In the fall of 2012, the Ball State English Department began a short series to celebrate and profile our newest faculty members. This week, the department continues the series of new faculty profiles by featuring Eva Snider, who joined our department full-time last year. Continue reading below to see Eva Snider’s interview conducted by English department intern Nakkia Patrick and don’t forget to see past profiles featuring Dr. Susanna Benko,  Dr. Miranda NeslerDr. Maria Windell, Prof. Liz Whiteacre, Prof. John King, Dr. Andrea Wolfe, and Dr. Jason Gladstone.

*Photo Provided by Eva Snider

*Photo Provided by Eva Snider

Tell me about your digital and technological background:
I like teaching 231, professional writing, in that we focus on communication technologies. So we talk about social media, learning technologies, and basically anything that helps us coordinate, communicate, and write. We study them from the perspective of users. That’s really where I come in, and has a lot to deal with the research I do. I would consider the research that my students and I do as user experience research. They go out and talk to everyday users about how they’re using various technologies, what role they play in their lives, what features they use, how often they pay for them or don’t pay for them, and what they like or don’t like about certain characteristics of the software or hardware. I’m really passionate about that kind of research. I believe that technology should be designed with users in mind. I also feel like most problems with communication technologies come out into users’ experiences.

I also teach an online class on web writing. So I have experience with HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript. I believe an essential skill is coding. To be able to put together a professional and well-designed website is pretty essential in today’s world.

What kind of research or projects are you currently working on?
Actually, my English 231 class is part of a research project that I am working on with Stephanie Hedge, Aly Schweigert, and Jennifer Grouling. We’ve got a book chapter coming out on how we “gamified” our classes. Currently ENG 231 and Jennifer Grouling’s English 444 Senior Seminar are gamified.  By this, I mean that we have incorporated gaming elements, quests, sidequests, achievements, badges, unlockables, and things like that into the structure of the course. My syllabus is like a game manual. The whole thing is kind of campy and fun, but it’s also a more serious game. You come in and do these things that are already laid out for you. In the process of designing the course this way, we wanted to study how effective this really is. We know there’s a lot of people out there doing this, but there’s no real data on if it really works. If so, how? Does it make people more engaged? Does it make the students want to participate more? Does it effect collaboration? We wanted to gather data on that because there really isn’t much data out there on this. We presented this at the Conference on College Communication in Composition in March. We also have a proposal for a book chapter that has been approved.

Last semester, we also had an English 104 class that was gamified as well. We basically talked to the students, interviewed them, and surveyed them in order to get as many details as possible about how it actually affected their participation in the course and their engagement.

What kind of research or projects have you done in the past?
I just published a book chapter on “griefing” in video games and a rhetorical approach to griefing. There’s a group of people out there that identify themselves as griefers. Meaning, they essentially harass other players in games, whether it be through verbal harassment or through taking various actions to disrupt others’ gameplay. A couple of other people and I talked to game players and studied what they thought they were doing as well as what we, from a rhetorical perspective, saw in that.  The essay just came out in a book called, Guns, Grenades, and Grunts: First Person Shooter Games. It was a collection on first person shooters.

I also had an article on e-portfolios come out about six months ago in International Journal of E-Portfolio. It looked at student identity constructions in e-portfolios. We talked to people about how they interacted with the interface and how they actually managed to create something that they considered their own, but something that was also considered a professional portfolio.

Do you have any future plans for research projects?
The journal Computers and Composition just had a CFP for design work. That’s really my area of interest—visual design. I was thinking about trying to talk to composition teachers about how they view design as a part of composition. What role should it play? What do they require and/or teach in their classrooms? I would like to reach across multiple universities and institutions. I feel like professional writing has its own sense of design and its value, but composition is really uncertain as to what it should value and what it shouldn’t. I’m really interested in the role that design plays in composition.