# The Designs of Academic Literacy: A Multiliteracies Examination of Academic Achievement

By Michael Newman | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Operations on Information

The previous chapter described in detail how the students who participated in this research categorized the material they were working with. They were not entirely aware of these categorizations. They did not even always individuate all of them, but they at least clearly discriminated the types of information that, in effect, constitute a typology of the material used in the achievement game, analogous to classes of chess pieces or the different suits and ranks of cards. In this chapter, I describe what they did with course content—the moves they made or the hands they played.

The term I use to describe these moves, operations, is taken from arithmetic, where it refers to actions on numbers such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It is intended to capture a similar sense of single actions on abstract entities that can be combined and ordered in different ways to accomplish useful tasks. There are four informational operations, just as there are four arithmetic ones. However, here the similarities end because the four informational operations I propose—exposure, extraction, manipulation, and display—are not logically related to each other as arithmetic ones are. No operation is the opposite of another as addition and subtraction or multiplication and division are; nor is one based on iterations of another as multiplication is of addition. Also, I make no claims for the type of universality that characterizes arithmetic operations, although it is certainly possible that they may turn out to have broader application beyond academic communication.

Still, the atomic nature of operations distinguishes them from study-strategy taxonomies such as Weinstein and Meyer’s (1991)

-115-

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• Title Page i
• Contents iii
• Figures and Tables v
• Preface vii
• Acknowledgments xi
• Part I - Orientation 1
• Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
• Chapter 2 - Where We Stand in the Field 13
• Chapter 3 - Methods 35
• Chapter 4 - The Worth of a Quarter 45
• Part II - Classes 57
• Chapter 5 - Awareness of Achievement versus Learning 59
• Chapter 6 - Types of Information 67
• Chapter 7 - Operations on Information 115
• Chapter 8 - Playing the Game 145
• Part III - Final 167
• Chapter 9 - Conclusions 169
• References 177
• Index 185
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