Current Issues in EAP Writing Instruction was the most extensive of all the Professional Interest Meetings represented in this report and for that reason it is only partially represented here. A full version of the proceedings will be edited by Paul Thompson of Reading University so please contact him for further details:
There were 9 plenary presentations and 16 short talks. Of the total 25 inputs, 8 are represented here.
This conference brought together a wide range of research interest in the field of academic writing as well as attracting a huge audience (over 150 on the day).
Mohammad Al-Ali & Randal Holme, University of Durham
The main objective of this talk was to question whether the Swalesian (1990) notion of genre does not have theoretical and empirical inconsistencies that lead us towards an overly prescriptive style of teaching writing according to an ideal multi-disciplinary template. The mastery of this template leaves students no better at adopting a critical relationship with their subject matter or at finding the language in which to express the same.
The first point was that field or discipline specificity is essential to a detailed sense of the form that a given text should adopt. Different disciplines suppose different modes of enquiry and different justificatory criteria. A different subject will thus express itself through a different communicative structure, making inconsistent the notion that a text type can operate across disciplines without radical adaptation.
Empirical support for the above position was found in research involving an examination of the move structure of 13 RAs drawn randomly from a broad spectrum of disciplines.
At the section level, it was found that RAs vary across disciplines in the number and titles of sections included. Some of the conventional sections (IMRD) were absent in certain RAs. For example, Maths, Law and History RAs did not include Discussion sections.
At the move structure level there were disciplinary variations with regard to the presence or absence of certain moves and the complexity of their cyclical organisation. Contrary to the prescriptions mandated by style guides and Swaless (1990) 3 move model of introductions, introduction moves are likely to re-occur in other sections. Similar repetitions were found for Results and Discussion moves. Further, moves were found which had not been mentioned by other researchers and there seemed to be no conformity in the number and type of move cycles included in each RA section.
The RA writers, in this sample, employed largely unacknowledged rhetorical organisational patterns that rely on the communicative purpose of the disciplines. While it is clear that there is such a thing as an RA or an essay genre, possessing features that are unique to it, these features cannot be specified as a detailed communicative structure when such a structure must be bent towards the epistemological demands of the discipline in question and even of the idiosyncrasies of the subject.
We therefore suggested that our sense of writing in a given genre is achieved through a deployment of our analogical faculties in order to give the emergent text a sense of category membership by constraining it within a schematic sense of its likeness to prototypical models. This schematic sense would recognise communicative purpose only in the very wide sense of deferring a collective notion of scientific method or of demonstrating knowledge.
The pedagogical conclusion was that successful writing in a genre is achieved less through the prescriptive model of move structure and more through the development of the students relationship with texts of the field-specific type which they will have to write. This should be regarded as a process relationship of weaning students away from appropriate models and fostering their analogical sense of these through such techniques as critical reading and text diagramtisation (trying to draw text structure).
Swales, J., 1990 Genre Analysis. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
Maggie Charles, Oxford University Language Centre
There are a number of options open to academic writers for obscuring or revealing their presence in their text, this is what I refer to as the authors voice. In this presentation I used examples from a range of academic journal articles to examine this aspect of academic writing. The authors voice can be realised in many ways, not only, for example, by using I, we and the passive form of the verb, but also through an adverbial phrase: such a study is in hand; a reflex pronoun: no such division announces itself in the text; or a deictic form: this investigation suggests. I suggested that realisations of the authors voice can be situated on a continuum from author revealed to author obscured and that notions of explicit and personal are important in distinguishing points on the continuum. Thus the more explicit and personal a given realisation is, the greater the authors presence in the text, with, for example, personal pronouns such as I and we revealing the authors presence and passive forms of the verb obscuring it.
I used examples to show that the authors voice is not necessarily consistent throughout a text and I offered three reasons why writers may decide to reveal their presence at certain points in their texts. The first example shows authors who take credit for their finding: We have found an alternative route to this product. In the second example the author takes responsibility for his action: I have split its complex action into two main parts. The third example shows an author using a revealing form in order to take a position with regard to other writers in the field: I think that the conventional methods of testing for mobility effects have not been adequate, so that theorists have been corrected in refusing to abandon the question.
I suggested that non-native writers often have difficulty with choices concerning the authors voice and that examples like the ones I have discussed here can form the basis of materials which encourage them to become more aware of the issues involved.
Sada A Daoud, Damascus University, Syria
Feedback is central for the successful teaching and learning of academic writing. Most research on feedback has been carried out in ESL contexts, and little as yet has been done in EFL. This study is an attempt to contribute to filling in this gap. It aimed to investigate feedback practices in the process of learning/teaching academic paper writing through the perceptions of students and their teachers. Two hundred medical students (100 current and 100 ex-ones) and ten teachers were involved. The study attempted to answer several questions. This paper focuses on two of them: (1) what methods of feedback are perceived to be effective? And (2) how do students respond to teacher feedback? Different instruments were used to collect the data: questionnaires, teacher interviews, classroom observation, samples of students drafts, student-group open discussion, and teacher round-table open discussion. Results have shown that teacher written commentary is the most prevailing method of feedback and that both teachers and students perceive it to be the most effective. The majority of respondents in the three groups reported positive student response to teacher written feedback. However, there is disparity between teachers and students perceptions of the effectiveness of peer feedback, conferences and teacher encouraging comments. Findings were interpreted mainly with reference to (1) possible lack of teacher awareness about feedback and (2) contextual constraints (time, timing, individual project writing etc.). The cultural view of the role of the teacher as an evaluator and examiner might also have a role in the shaping of respondents perceptions. Collaborative writing is argued to be a better alternative for these students. In this framework, peer feedback is suggested for the primary stages and written commentary and conferences for the intermediary and final stages. A mentoring scheme that encourages collaboration between experienced and novice teachers is also recommended for teacher development in teaching/learning writing.
Selected References on Feedback on Writing:
Anson, C.M. (Ed.). Writing and Responses: Theory, Practice and Research. Urbana IL: NCTE.
Arndt, V. (1993). Response to writing: Using feedback to inform the writing process. In Teaching Composition around the Pacific Rim: Policies and Pedagogy. Eds. M. Brock and L. Walters. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters: 90-226.
Charles, M. (1990) Responding to problems in written English using a student self-monitoring technique. ELT Journal, 44: 286-93.
Cohen, A. (1987). Student processing of feedback on their compositions. In Learner Strategies in Language Learning. Eds. A. Wenden and J. Rubin. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Dalbani, H. (1992). An Investigation into the Relationship between the Educational Context and the Written Product of University EFL Students with Implications for Teaching Writing. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds, UK.
Daoud, S. (1995). Feedback in the Process of Teaching and Learning Academic Writing in EFL/ESP Contexts: A Case Study. Unpublished MA dissertation CELTE, University of Warwick, UK.
Daoud, S. (Forthcoming). How to motivate the learning and teaching of EFL academic writing by cross-cultural exchanges. English for Specific Purposes, 5: 27-39.
Enginarlar, H. (1993). Student response to teacher feedback in EFL writing. System. 21: 193-204.
Freedman, S.W., and A.M. Katz (1987). Pedagogical interaction during the composing process: The writing conference. In Writing in Real Time: Modelling Production Processes. Ed. A. Matsuhasi. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Ferris, Dana (1997). The influence of teacher commentary on student revision. TESOL Quarterly, 31: 315-39.
Gosden, H. (1995) Success in research article writing and revision: A social constructionist perspective. English for Specific Purposes, 14: 37-57.
Keh, C.L. (1990). Feedback in the Writing Process: A model and method for implementation. ELT Journal, 44: 294-304.
Fadecki, P., and J. Swales (1988). ESL student reaction to written comments on their written work. System, 16: 335-65.
Reid, J. (1994). Responding to ESL students; texts: the myths of appropriation. TESOL Quarterly, 28: 273-92.
Robb, T., S. Ross and I Shortreed (1986). Salience of feedback on error and its effect on EFL writing quality. TESOL Quarterly, 20: 83-93.
Storch, N. and J. Tapper (1996). Patterns of NNS student annotations when identifying areas of concern in their writing. System, 24: 323-36.
Zamel, V. (1985). Responding to student writing. TESOL Quarterly, 19: 79-101.
Alison Piper, University of Southampton
To demonstrate a range of intertextual processes at work in students essay writing, particularly in revised versions of these.
Pennycook has written of borrowing others words (Pennycook 1996) and of the contradictions and ambiguities of concepts like plagiarism in academic writing, among which are the relationship between pedagogical materials and the development of academic writing (Johnston in progress). Pennycook examines language as a tissue of quotations (Barthes) or a circulation of meanings, speech as filled with others words (Bakhtin), and people as awash in the words of others. He notes the particular problem for HE students writing in a second language, who experience the conflict between meeting the dual demand to use their own words and be original and critical, and the need to acquire a canon of knowledge and terminology.
A small group of advanced undergraduate learners of EFL attended a first year degree module in English language, part of which involved supporting the process of writing essays set by Regional Studies lecturer. Over a three month period, three of these writing classes and the work the students produced for these were studied. The three classes used reformulation, a pedagogic strategy whereby students write a first draft of an essay which is then reformulated by a native speaker (see Allwright 1988). This process requires the native-speaker to try to understand what the non-native speaker was trying to write, and then to rewrite it ... in a form more natural to the native-speaker (Allwright et al 1988: 238), the ideal being for the re-writer to retain the original ideas and purpose of the text. In this study extracts from several essays, or one whole one, were reformulated for each of the three set essays, and the two versions, original and reformulated, were discussed by students and teacher in the classroom, both as a class and in small-group work. After this discussion the students revised their first versions into a final draft. Class 1 presented and discussed essay introductions, Class 2 conclusions, and Class 3 a whole essay. (A fourth class, unavoidably cancelled, was going to discuss a central part of the essay.)
8 non-native-speaking undergraduate students all from a European educational background although not all from Europe. Studying in the UK for a BA degree in Applied Language Studies. Aged between 19 and 25, two men, six women.
How important did the students experience of the reformulation strategy appear to be in influencing their revisions, relative to other factors?
Six variables investigated via qualitative analysis
1. Teachers written comments
Interview/questionnaire data reported importance of T comment in revision. Evidence in all revised essays (replicates findings of other research in multiple drafting contexts (e.g. Ferris 1995; Hedgcock and Lefkowitz 1994). Influence most obviously from marginal notes rather than ESL Composition Profile comments.
T comments had more influence on S revisions than any other factor in the reformulation strategy. Response often meticulous, as if using native-speaker proof-reader, but also signs of attention to higher order organisational issues.
2. The reformulations
Texts reformulated: Class 1 introductions, Class 2 conclusions, and Class 3 whole essay. Therefore examine each of these three aspects of Ss final drafts.
Except where Ss adopted them wholesale, they used or modified those parts of the reformulations which they could easily incorporate into their own writing usually either specific vocabulary items, or definable structures or words (like example) which they could then build into a sequence of some kind. Reformulations acted as models for both linguistic and textual features, but only used them where Ss could integrate them with their own textual intentions.
3. The classes
More difficult to make links between Ss writing and events of the classroom. Distance in time, space and medium between the class discussion and the writing of the essay probably unbridgeable in terms of establishing a primary relationship, certainly via the research methods used in the study. More appropriate to see what is happening in the reformulation strategy as an interplay between the various texts, comments and discussions which are produced -> suggestions re how the classes might have impacted on the students writing, and which aspects of the class seem more likely to have had such an impact and which less likely.
Students personal textual characteristics seemed to override fact or nature of classroom discussion, whether plenary of peer group, although some evidence of influence is some cases. Development most obvious in intros, suggesting where discussion about definable and relatively finite matters from which choices could be made, this carried over into the writing process. But classes didnt deal with a whole essay until the final session, so not possible to investigate any relationship between classes and overall essay structure until the last essay, which anyway only two students substantially revised.
Suggestion of (non-directional relationship) between expertise in writing and expertise in describing and analysing originals and reformulations. The gradual though uneven increase in essay grades mirrors the development of the students abilities to analyse the texts and the class focus on discourse-level concerns. Suggestion that individual differences in the three integrated dimensions of the reformulators expertise linguistic repertoire, revising skills and textual knowledge were reflected in those individuals class performance, and that they developed in parallel.
Question: how important is it to develop students ability to describe and evaluate texts?
4. Essay type and topic
Essay 3 on censorship seems to have been a kind of odd man out in which four students either got their highest grade or for which they received a substantially higher grade than previously.
Evidence suggests that certain types of essay enable certain students to activate their discourse-level skills more than others, stimulate the use and integration of other texts, etc.
5. Other external sources
No class material/textbooks from the Regional Studies course collected as data, therefore this source of intertextuality not investigated. But hints of common sources recur in different students essays. Re help from native-speakers in writing their essays, students reported various attitudes in final interviews.
General comments on intertextuality
Back to Pennycooks conflict between demands for originality in ideas and language + requirement to acquire knowledge and terminology, evidence demonstrates the interaction between the two in practice. The classroom transcripts often show students worrying about presenting a personal choice, while the writing data shows the difficulties imposed on them by their limited repertoire both linguistically and textually. While students used teacher feedback as most obvious source of revisions, the reformulation strategy offered many opportunities for them to seek their own solutions to these problems, both in first drafts and in the way they revised subsequent drafts, though using, recycling, borrowing, etc. whatever bits of other texts which they found useful.
Allwright, J. 1988. Dont correct reformulate! In P. Robinson (ed.). Academic writing: process and product. London: Modern English Publications in association with the British Council.
Allwright, R.L., M-P Woodley and J. Allwright. 1988. Investigating reformulation as a practical strategy for the teaching of academic writing. Applied Linguistics. 9/3: 236-256.
Bereiter, C. and M. Scardamalia. 1982. From conversation to composition: the role of instruction in a developmental process. In R. Glaser (ed.). Advances in instructional psychology. Vol. 1. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Faigley, L. and S.P. Witte. 1984. Measuring the effects of revisions on text structure. In R. Beach and L.S. Bridwell (ed.). New directions in composition research. New York: Guilford Press.
Ferris, D.R. 1995. Student reactions to teacher response in multiple-draft composition classrooms. TESOL Quarterly. 29/1: 33-53.
Hedgcock, J. and N. Lefkowitz. 1994. Feedback on feedback: assessing learner receptivity to teacher response in L2 composing. Journal of Second Language Writing. 3: 141-163.
Johnston, B. In progress. Teaching analytical writing. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Southampton.
Pennycook, A. 1996. Borrowing others words: text, ownership, memory, and plagiarism. TESOL Quarterly. 30/2: 201-230.
Tim Johns, EISU, University of Birmingham
- Get the student to explain , verbally what (s)he was trying to say, and base the revision on the wording of that explanation.
- Offer a choice of redraftings: This could mean this, or it could mean this. Which did you intend? or You could, I think, express what you are trying to say here in this way or in this way. Which would you prefer?
- The student reviews all revisions as soon as possible after the session, focusing on the question Why was the revision suggested?
- A second review to be undertaken within 24 hours of the first review.
- After the second review the student should revise the next part of his/her draft in the light of what has been learned in the course of the session and the two reviews (student revisions inspected at the next session).
In straitened times, the cost of providing a 1-2-1 service can be justified only by the efficacy of the assistance given: and/or by its potential washback effect on our normal classroom teaching. As far as the second of these is concerned, most sessions are lost on the wind: hence need to monitor them and to see what can be learned that may be of general use to teachers and students.
- Consent of student Kibbitzed essential (only once refused).
- Topics selected are most often those discussed in the session with reference to concordance data (usually a quick trawl using Microconcord during the session, which may be followed up in greater depth for the purpose of the Kibbitzer).
- Topics generally are those ignored, neglected or misrepresented in standard works of reference and course materials (including EISU materials). (Not a difficult criterion to satisfy!)
- Balance between topics showing problems of
- Lexis e.g. Collocation, (12), Connotation, (24), Lexical Transfer (8) and choice dependent on Text-Type (6)
- Syntax e.g. Transitivity (5) and Problems of Learning such as Overgeneralisation, and Blending (4), and of Linguistic Typology such as Prominence (25).
- Organisation & Discourse e.g. Structuring a List (22), Premature Evaluation (14).
- Proportion of topics which illustrate the negotiation of meaning in the course of the session e.g. choice of meaning, choice of structure, consultant error (23).
Brenda Johnston, AUC Cairo
An action research aiming to develop the analytical writing capabilities of first year undergraduates in an intensive Freshman writing course in an English-medium university in the Middle East. Part of the project involved a set of conferences (individual tutorials) with each student. The students wrote four essays/papers over the course of a semester. For each paper they had a conference of 20 minutes to half an hour after they had written the first draft with me, their teacher. For the third and fourth paper they also had a conference/conferences before they wrote their first draft.
The conferences were intended to provide opportunities for students to discuss their essay with me (to question, clarify, rehearse, disagree, etc.). I had an opportunity to engage in dialogue with the students (making suggestions, asking questions, commenting, etc.).
The conferences aimed to individualise teaching for each student; to work within their zone of proximal development (Vygotsky 1978); to guide students toward the development of strategies I considered useful for encouraging analytical writing; to socialise students into what was acceptable writing in the academic world they were entering; to encourage student independence in learning; and to encourage student motivation though appropriate teaching and interest shown in their work.
Content (e.g. interpretation of source material, how to develop ides more analytically, missing information), essay structure (e.g. organisation of material), technical matters (e.g. documentation), language issues (e.g. tenses, vocabulary choice).
Difficult to assess how effective conferences are because:
Students are influenced by many other matters (e.g. whole class inputs, practice in writing, interaction with peers, interaction with parents, future ambitions) when making alternations to drafts following on from a conference, writing future essays, or developing attitudes to the course.
Conferencing is not a matter of inputting information and then straightforward learning output. Instead learning, especially in a complex process such as analytical writing, is slow, cumulative, recursive, non-linear, and complex.
Conferencing appeared effective with the five case study students in this study in encouraging motivation and reflection. They were useful in dealing with the small-scale learning needs of individual students. Conferencing was very effective in assisting the students to make changes to the essay draft following on from the conference. There is also evidence that it was useful in helping students learn in the longer term, especially on matters they were close to learning anyway of varying degrees of complexity; on relatively technical matters such as documentation; and on issues where a principle easy to grasp is involved (e.g. that the student should seek the truth in writing, rather than writing to please the teacher or finish the assignment quickly). It may be helpful in matters such as making the student more aware of the need to provide exemplification, elaboration, etc. But as these are matters of individual judgement for individual cases, evidence of this is more difficult to find. The effects of conferencing is enhanced when combined with whole class teaching input on the same issue and practice.
Tilly Warren, Birmingham University
The Open Distance Learning Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language (MA TEFL/TESL) is run by the Centre for English Language Studies (CELS), part of the University of Birminghams Department of English. The course is designed for practising teachers of English as a second or foreign language. The original target group were native speaker teachers who for various reasons would find it hard to leave employment to gain a Masters degree. The central philosophy behind the programme is that students should have the opportunity to research and use in the classroom the concepts and theories they encounter during their course of study. With this in mind, a set of interactive course materials was written for working teachers to complete in part-time, self-study mode over a period of 30 months.
Since its start in 1995 the course has found considerable success in Japan and is now also offered in Korea (initiatives in Thailand and Taiwan did not find the required standard of in-country support). This year the course is expanding into Greece, Chile and Brazil. The aim is to provide a course that offers the same standards, both academically and organisationally, as a full-time, in-house course. The Open Distance Learning MA TEFL/TESL is subject to exactly the same rigorous validation and external evaluation procedures as in-house courses, and students coursework is assessed to the same standards. The specially written materials were thus aimed at native speakers of English and although they were designed to support self study, no allowances were made for non-native speaker students.
The requirements for the course are also as exacting as for in-house Masters courses. Applicants should have a university degree at 2.1 level in the UK system, or a GPA score of 3.5 or over in the American system. They must also have two years full-time experience (or equivalent) teaching English as a second or foreign language and be able to provide three references, at least one to attest to academic abilities, and one to professional abilities as an EFL teacher. However candidates with equivalent degrees from other countries as well as good teaching experience and positive references are also considered. Such candidates may be asked to complete a written task and/or attend an interview. Candidates whose first language is not English are required to have one of the following:
TOEFL score of 550 or more,
IELTS score of 6.0 or more
UCLES (Cambridge) Proficiency grade C or above
an English Language examination pass at an equivalent level to the above which is recognised by the University of Birmingham.
The Masters course consists of a total of twelve courses (divided into six Modules) followed by a dissertation of 12,000 words. At the start of each Module, the Local Administration Centre provides two sets of specially written study materials produced by lecturers from the Department of English at Birmingham University. One course is taught in-country by Birmingham tutors in an intensive one-week summer seminar to which attendance is mandatory. Each distance-mode course contains aims and objectives, reading lists, summaries of Readings, activities, discussion/reflection tasks, keys and commentaries, and details of assignments required. At the end of each Module, students submit one essay or small project report of 4,000 words. They complete three such assignments in year one and a further three in year two, a total of six 4,000 word assignments over the two years. Completed assignments are sent to Birmingham via the Local Administration Centre for marking. A comprehensive set of feedback comments are made by two markers. The comments are designed not only as an evaluation, but also to help students improve their standard in subsequent assessments.
Somewhat to the surprise of CELS, since the beginning of the course there has been a great deal of interest from local English teachers and ELT administrators in this Masters degree and roughly a third of every intake has been non-native speaker candidates, the proportion growing slightly as the programme expands. Although this was seen as an encouraging and positive sign, it also brought with it the same types of problems seen with in-house Masters students who are non-native speakers difficulties with understanding what was required in assignment writing, slow and possibly inefficient reading, written assignments that did not follow British academic conventions and even basic problems with English grammar and lexis in an academic context. In-house students have the opportunity to take either 10-week or 5-week presessional course in academic study skills and an insessional Academic Writing course is provided in the first term. They also, of course, have direct access to tutors and academic writing support, as well as peer support.
It soon became clear that the Open Learning Course needed to offer some kind of study skills support since although the standard of students was the same, left without enough guidance, assignment writing and the general approach to academic study was often misconstrued by non-native speakers. (Not that the only students in need of this kind of support were non-native speakers it was also clear that students from non-British academic backgrounds were finding the course equally challenging.) In February 1997 three people were asked to collaborate on writing a support course, Anne Hewings, Pam Rogerson, Rod Revell and myself, Tilly Warren. The intention is to have a course written and ready to send out for the 1998 October intake.
Deliver a similar support course to the in-house course but (because distance) at more length with chance for reflection/group work, keys to exercises for reassurance and comment.
Addressing areas that students had failed on i.e. journalese, lack of references, intuitive/subjective, anecdotal, non-evaluative, wrong register, lack of hedging or too much, straying off the topic, plagiarism, ignorance of conventions, lacking coherence/cohesion, too much repetition, no development of an argument, no depth.
10 modules reduced to 8 Format modelled on Bham materials familiar for students.
In bold are those already written.
(Materials were piloted in Korea and Japan this year as well as with the in-house MA students on the Academic Writing Course.)
What is dealt with here (Study Skills) was covered in the presessional course I attended last August. I have found reading extremely difficult to cope with and its even more difficult to follow reading skills or strategies which are recommended in this chapter. They sound very efficient and systematic in theory but very vague and difficult to adopt in practice.
Very useful guidelines here. But it would be helpful to discuss this in a lecture. There are many aspects that require explanations and input from the lecturer.
If its possible could you please give readers a complete dissertation and show different kinds of ways in which appropriate expression? That might be helpful to follow the rule much more like an academic writing.
Bell, J. (1993) Doing Your Research Project Open University Press Buckingham.
Richards, K. (1994). Writing Distance Learning Materials in Richards, K. and Roe, P. (Eds.) Distance Learning in ELT Macmillan London
Swales, J.M. and Feak, C.B. (1994) Academic Writing for Graduate Students University of Michigan Press Michigan
Waters, M. and Waters, A. (1995). Study Tasks in English CUP Cambridge
Harriet Edwards, Goldsmiths College Postgraduate Textiles Writing Workshop, Goldsmiths College
The handout provides details of the Textiles course taken from the Textiles handbook and from interviews with the head of the department (Janis Jefferies). This is followed by a short profile of the students attending the writing workshop.
The question is: how would you develop a writing workshop for the non-native students who are studying on the Textiles Diploma /MA?
The course seeks to provide a constructive relationship between independent practice and a structured programme of study. It also seeks to generate and encourage the group as a supportive unit.
The programme is designed to reflect, and reflect upon, the relative diversity of contemporary textiles within a broad definition of visual arts, and the nature of the critical discourse which surrounds it. Textiles here operates within a field of interdisciplinary practice, within which you are required to develop your own positions.
Weekly Critical Theory Seminars (1st 2 terms)
Some major themes of contemporary analysis and critique of contemporary textiles are explored. Creative practice is considered in the ligth of explorations of its cultural context. Several critical essays are read as preparation for these seminars.
Weekly Studio Seminars (predominating in 2nd term)
Each student in turn is visited by the group in her/his studio and gives a presentation (followed by discussion) on the development and ideas in their textiles work. The content of the presentations forms the basis of the final essay.
Note: Development of the group as an instrument of criticism and practical self-help is one of the central aims of the course.
Individual Tutorials (3 or 4 during three terms)
Students discuss their work with up to three tutors who advise them on research and practice. Students write up tutorial reports after each one which form part of their assessment.
Research and practical work continue through the three terms, independence and self-discipline being the keys! While the long essay is submitted at the end of the third term, studio practice continues until the exhibition in September.
In addition, students can attend any of the practical workshops (weaving, paper-making) that are held throughout the year on the undergraduate course.
Lectures in Anthropology, Communications and Art History can be attended, and optional Creative Writing workshops are offered in the 2nd term.
The course also consists of visits to exhibitions and practising artists.
Note: Non-native Diploma students follow more or less the same lines as the MA students although the emphasis is more practical, and the long essay much shorter!
Note: The handbook contains a comprehensive guide to essay writing. In addition, Textile tutors provide guidance on how to write reviews and tutorial reports; how to give a presentation, and, in the 3rd term, students essay drafts are submitted and then discussed twice before the final deadline.
The course is concerned very much with INTEGRATION of theory, individual students interests and the studio practice.
It emphasises PROCESS as well as product; a lot of attention is paid to the students individual development in all aspects of the course.
It relies heavily on PEER SUPPORT.
Academic conventions are still important, for example, the essay must contain preface and conclusion, adequate support, evidence of research, and careful referencing. However, the Head of the department accepts competence rather than perfection in the language. Furthermore, the higher marks are awarded to students whose work is individual and original; where there is a sense of development and energy. The subject matter is extremely diverse and may involve biographical detail; criticism and subjective interpretation of art and artists; critical theory. There are necessarily main theme/s running through the essay but these can be embedded in a report, a narrative, a dialogue, a poem, or indeed a marriage of part or all of these. The theme is contemporary and the presentation, like the Textile works, is experimental.
There are 11 students on the writing workshop and their attendance is compulsory. They came from Thailand, Korea, Japan and Taiwan in more or less equal measure. Their average IELTS grade is 6.5 and bar one, they have all attended courses at Goldsmiths already, i.e. the foundation and BA degree; or the Postgraduate Certificate in Textiles, or the Pre-sessional. This means that they have all undergone a conventional type of EAP course where the four skills, with emphasis on academic writing, are focused on. They have also undertaken a basic philosophy course, and have studied various cultural background issues. They are familiar with integrated study projects, such as following a book or film to develop critical analysis. Despite all this, there is plenty of language work to be carried out.
It is with this essential and particular background knowledge that the writing workshops develops.
Paul Thompson, University of Reading
There is a lack of good teaching material for in-sessional writing courses, particularly for students working towards a PhD thesis. Two fairly recent books make use of findings from genre analysis studies, but a closer look reveals that many of these findings derive from studies of research articles. This begs the question: are theses the same as RAs? Little work has been done on dissertations and theses: James (1984), Bloor and Bloor (1991), Dudley-Evans (1991) are case studies of dissertation writers; Hewings (1993) compares the conclusions of dissertations and RAs; Hanania and Akhtar (1985), and Shaw (1992) look at the use of reporting verbs in dissertations and theses respectively; Hopkins and Dudley-Evans (1988) and Dudley-Evans (1994) provide more analysis of dissertations. Swales (1990) allows only a page and a half to discussion of theses and dissertations, and comments on the difficulties of working with such long texts.
The question Are these the same as RAs? implies some degree of generic-ness among both theses and also RAs. Looking at PhD theses from different disciplines provides little support for such a view, however. The insights that a broad view of PhD thesis as genre provides appear to be of extremely limited value. Taking Swaless (1990) concept of a discourse community to refer to the academic community at large seems vapid; taking it to refer to disciplinary communities may be more productive. There have been an increasing number of studies recently contrasting the rhetorical organisation and practices of discourse across disciplines (e.g. Dudley-Evans 1993, 1994; MacDonald 1994; Becher 1989; Hansen 1988; Williamson 1988); my study follows in this mould.
The corpus (part of the Reading Academic Text corpus) I will analyse contains:
6 Agricultural Economics theses
8 Agricultural Botany theses.
They were all written by native speakers, and were submitted in the last five years.
Theses are long texts and one cannot sensibly conduct move analyses of the particular disciplinary culture and the accepted notions within that discipline of what constitutes research by looking at the organisation of the text, the structuring of the argumentation, the points at which modality is employed and in reference to what, the degrees of overt and covert authorial presence, the extent to which evaluation is permitted, and of what, and much of this can be achieved through functional analysis of certain recurrently employed linguistic items. In my study, theses will be modal verbs, reporting verbs, connectors, and macro discourse organisers. The presentation will present some of the initial findings about the use of modal verbs, and or connectors.
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