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A longitudinal case study of students’ perceptions of academic writing and of themselves as academic writers : the writing experiences of five students who spoke English as an additional language

By Oxana Poverjuc


This thesis explores how students who spoke English as an additional language (EAL)\ud learned to write in a new discourse community, the difficulties they encountered and the\ud changes that occurred in their perceptions of academic writing and of themselves as\ud academic writers. The existing literature reported that learning to write disciplinary\ud assignments is an interactional and dynamic process, encompassing not only writing and\ud reading but also social interactions occurring among novice and more experienced\ud members of the discourse community. Nevertheless, previous studies suggested that HE\ud institutions still tend to hold narrow views on academic writing and to provide little\ud attention to its teaching. Essentially, many studies are limited because they have\ud examined how isolated factors (i.e. tutor written feedback or use of guidelines) impacted\ud on student writing, overlooking the complexity of interactions that can come into play\ud and influence student writing.\ud This research adopted a longitudinal case study to investigate in-depth the writing\ud experiences of five EAL students. To conduct this exploratory project, I employed\ud constructivist and interpretivist approaches and multiple methods such as selfcompletion\ud questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and analysis of tutors‘ feedback\ud sheets and handbooks.\ud This project suggests that indeed learning to write in HE was an active and dynamic\ud process, encompassing interactions with members of the discourse community (tutors,\ud peers and teacher-assistants), with the training system (taught module courses, writing\ud assignments, academic writing class, CELTE support) and with institutional artefacts\ud (samples of previously written work, published guidelines and assessment criteria).\ud Despite a number of literacy practices designed to make the departmental conventions\ud and expectations transparent, there was a level of invisibility of the conventions students\ud were expected to adopt in their writing. As a result, students‘ writing experiences were\ud fraught with tensions and conflicts that influenced their perceptions of academic writing\ud and of themselves as academic writers

Topics: LB2300, PE
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