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Talking about Academic Writing: Border Crossings Diane Schmitt TESOL Philadelphia 2012.

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1 Talking about Academic Writing: Border Crossings Diane Schmitt TESOL Philadelphia 2012

2 Border Crossings in Writing Secondary School University Writing EFL Exams EAP Writing EAP Writing Disciplinary Writing Freshman Composition Disciplinary Writing Graduation Writing Exams Disciplinary Exams

3 Challenges at the Border EAP Writing EFL Exams Disciplinary Writing EAP Writing Disciplinary Writing

4 Exam Essay Tasks

5 Disjuncture between IELTS argumentative essays and assessed academic writing  IELTS writing:  gives too much attention to the subjectivity of the argument; this is at odds with the objective, non- personal writing of assessed academic writing  exhibits an excess of authorial authority in the absence of persuasive supporting evidence – this is likely to weaken rather than strengthen an argument  draws too much attention to the writer rather than the argument  overuses hearsay  overly direct – not much hedging (Coffin and Hewings, 2004)

6 EAP Writing Tasks EAP writing more often requires students to use information from external sources in their writing.

7 Sample Pre-sessional Criteria  Assessment Criteria (Final Draft of Essay) - 8 August.docm Assessment Criteria (Final Draft of Essay) - 8 August.docm

8 IELTS 1 writing task  The graph below shows the different modes of transport used to travel to and from work in one European city in 1960, 1980 and  Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

9 IELTS writing task 1: requirements  For Writing Task 1 it is very important that candidates are able to understand information that is presented in diagram/graph/chart/table form. They must also be able to choose the most significant information to include in their description and be sure to focus on the overall trends within the data (if data is presented) in order to give an overview of it. They may also need to compare and contrast information. tthepaper/task1/index.htm tthepaper/task1/index.htm Olwyn Alexander, 2009

10 Preparing students for both exams and disciplinary writing  The data description writing task in the IELTS examination differs significantly from data commentary in disciplinary writing, e.g. science and engineering degrees.  By identifying key features of data commentary at university and tasks for teaching it effectively can be developed. Olwyn Alexander, 2009

11 How does this relate to disciplinary writing?  According to Swales and Feak (n.d.) writing about non-verbal material in the real world, even in textbooks, typically involves something more or something other than straight information transfer… [it] typically takes the form of a selective and interpretive commentary. c2_5.htm c2_5.htm Olwyn Alexander, 2009

12 Analyses of data commentaries by Applied Linguistics researchers (Alexander, 2009) AuthorDateJournal or BookDisciplines Thompson1993Written CommunicationBiochemistry Brett1994English for Specific PurposesSociology Posteguillo1998English for Specific PurposesComputer Science Williams1999English for Specific PurposesMedical Research Shaw2000Analysing Professional GenresAnimal Nutrition Yang and Allison2003English for Specific PurposesApplied Linguistics Kanoksilapatham2005English for Specific PurposesBiochemistry Bruce2009 in press English for Specific PurposesSociology Chemistry

13 Main findings of the analysis (Alexander, 2009)  Results sections in journal articles are commentaries and not descriptions.  They proceed through a series of Moves and Steps  Move = communicative purpose, e.g. locate results, state results, comment on results  Step = rhetorical techniques which realize these purposes, e.g. steps for comment on results might be interpret results, compare results with literature, account for results, evaluate results  These moves and steps are repeated for each new finding.

14 What’s different between the two types of writing task?  There is an overall structure to reporting data from tables and graphs at university.  Locate the results: The graph shows the different modes of transport used to travel to and from work.  Report the main findings: Whereas walking to work was the most common form of transport in 1960, by 2000 most people travelled to work by car.  Account for the findings: It is likely that by 2000 many companies had relocated to out of town business parks which were too far to reach on foot.  Repeat for each finding: The use of bicycles to travel to work fell dramatically between 1960 and 2000, probably because of the increased number of cars on the road. Olwyn Alexander, 2009 IELTS writing can thus be distinguished from university-level writing: IELTS requires the first two moves [locate the results and state the results] and not the final move [comment on the results] data commentaries at university require all three moves

15 Purpose of Language Proficiency Exams e.g. IELTS General Descriptors

16 Purposes of Assessed Student Writing in University ( Nesi and Gardner, 2012)  Provide opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and expertise  Writing to learn

17 Purposes of Assessed Student Writing in University ( Nesi and Gardner, 2012)  Provide opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and expertise  Display knowledge, understanding and expertise  Assess achievement of learning outcomes

18 Purposes of Assessed Student Writing in University ( Nesi and Gardner, 2012)  Provide opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and expertise  Display knowledge, understanding and expertise  To explain or argue a point  To demonstrate the ability to explain or argue a point in writing  Assess ability to meet academic and disciplinary conventions for explanation or argument

19 Purposes of Assessed Student Writing in University ( Nesi and Gardner, 2012)  Provide opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and expertise  Display knowledge, understanding and expertise  To explain or argue a point  To demonstrate the ability to explain or argue a point in writing  To earn a grade or gain credits towards a degree

20 Purposes of Assessed Student Writing in University ( Nesi and Gardner, 2012)  Provide opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and expertise  Display knowledge, understanding and expertise  To explain or argue a point  To demonstrate the ability to explain or argue a point in writing  To earn a grade or gain credits towards a degree  To develop skills to communicate with multiple audiences – academic and professional

21 A comparison of writing tasks EAP Classes Language Tests Personal Argumentative Essay Description Diagram Description Comparison Contrast Integrative Task – Reading/Listening/Writing Argument/Persuasion Problem-Solution Source-based Research Papers

22 Assessed academic writing tasks: Student writing in the disciplines 1. Case Study 2. Critique 3. Design Specification 4. Empathy Writing 5. Essay 6. Exercise 7. Explanation 8. Literature Survey 9. Methodology Recount 10. Narrative Recount 11. Problem Question 12. Proposal 13. Research Report (Nesi and Gardner, 2012) Genre Families found in the BAWE

23 Realizations of a genre in different disciplines (Gardner, 2010)

24 Realizations of a genre in different disciplines

25 Writing tasks set at UK universities by disciplinary group and level (Gardner, 2010)

26 Recognizing the different purposes for academic writing  Essays, critical reviews, portfolios and dissertations, are the end products of a long process which incorporates thinking, listening, reading, collating ideas, drafting and redrafting, discussing and editing. (CAPLITS, 2008)

27 Recognizing the different purposes for academic writing  Essays, critical reviews, portfolios and dissertations, are the end products of a long process which incorporates thinking, listening, reading, collating ideas, drafting and redrafting, discussing and editing. (CAPLITS, 2008)

28 Aims of Undergraduate Study  Bachelor's degrees with honours are awarded to students who have demonstrated:  a systematic understanding of key aspects of their field of study, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of defined aspects of a discipline  an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry within a discipline  conceptual understanding that enables the student to… (QAA, 2008)

29 Aims of Undergraduate Study  Conceptual understanding that enables the student to:  to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research, or equivalent advanced scholarship, in the discipline  an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge  the ability to manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (for example, refereed research articles and/or original materials appropriate to the discipline).  Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:  apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects  critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem (QAA, 2008)

30 Aims of Undergraduate Study  Conceptual understanding that enables the student to:  to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research, or equivalent advanced scholarship, in the discipline  an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge  the ability to manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (for example, refereed research articles and/or original materials appropriate to the discipline).  Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:  apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects  critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem Writing tasks are driven by disciplinary content knowledge. (QAA, 2008)

31 Disciplinary Argumentation across Genres (Nesi and Gardner, 2012:127)  Law focuses on what is legally right  impose, enforce, deter, prohibit  Philosophy focuses on what morally or logically accepted  Concession- accept, admit, concede  Critique – criticise, imagine, question  Entertainment – claim, imagine, postulate  Sociology focuses on what is arguably, fundamentally, socially challenged.  Theories and ideas – embrace, shape, reinforce, legitimise, portray and challenge

32 Specific uses of linguistic features across genre families  Explain and Exercise Genres  The verbs ‘explain’ and ‘understand’ are rarely used “I shall first explain…”  The verbs do fulfill specific functions, e.g. citation, showing how concepts and theories explain  Keywords and their Collocates  Students are far less likely to claim than published authors; they are more likely to endorse these authors than challenge them  Point to the focus of argumentation in different disciplines

33 Register dimensions of student writing  11 genre families are:  Highly informational  Non-narrative  Elaborated  Lacking overt features of persuasion  Highly impersonal Nesi and Gardner, 2012  Narrative recounts and empathy writing are relatively:  Involved  Narrative  Situation Dependent

34 Writing is a process  Assessed Writing in the Disciplines requires students to:  derive content knowledge from their disciplinary reading and listening and apply it to a written prompt,  recognize and use the appropriate disciplinary moves and steps required for applying ideas and information  use language that is appropriate to the discipline and the task

35 A salutory story…  A cohort of 19 students studying for a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management  External accrediting body requires that core modules are assessed by exams  Two of these are based on case studies  13 students fail the first exam  11 students fail all three exams  The students only read the case studies and did not read other texts from the reading list. All of students attended either a pre-MA English course or a two or three-term pre- masters course Case study exam writing Course work case studies Reflective writing Dissertation

36 Purpose of Pre-university English language or Preparatory Programs

37 Characteristics of learner production in academic writing  A limited lexical repertoire  Lack of register awareness  Lack of awareness of lexico-grammatical and phraseological specificities  Semantic misuse of connectors and labels  The extensive use of chains of connective devices  A marked preference for placing connectors in sentence-initial position (Paquot, 2010)

38 Limited lexical repertoire (ICLE corpus)  Overused nouns advantage, aim, benefit, change, choice, conclusion, consequence, degree, disadvantage, example, fact, idea, influence, possibility, problem, reality, reason, risk, solution, stress  Underused nouns addition, argument, assumption, basis, bias, comparison, concept, contrast, criterion, difference, effect, emphasis, evidence, extent, form, hypothesis, issue, outcome, perspective, position, scope, sense, summary, theme, theory, validity

39 How can we better support students?  Provide opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and expertise, and to  Display knowledge, understanding and expertise  Writing needs to be part of a wider cycle of purposeful reading to learn content  Instead of simply focusing on different rhetorical types, focus more on purpose and function

40 Taking a genre approach (Tribble & Wingate, 2011)  Compile a corpus of student writing  Create materials based on both high scoring and low scoring work.  Applied Linguistics  All of the examples in this guide have been taken from assignments in the KCL Apprentice Writing Corpus. Assignments on the MA typically require students to demonstrate knowledge of relevant research literature, to reflect on the relevance of this research on specific teaching and learning contexts, and to come to conclusions in relation to the particular issues which are raised in the assignment. Tribble and Wingate\Tribble and Wingate Samples.doc

41 Taking a genre approach (Tribble & Wingate, 2011)  Pharmacology  Optimisation Reports in the third year of the MPharm degree typically require students to report the experimental work they have performed in optimising one of four types of pharmaceutical formulations (creams, tablets, capsules or suspensions) over a period of 6 full-day sessions. In this report, they need to 1) demonstrate background knowledge of the formulations by referring to the relevant textbooks and research papers; 2) justify the experimental design, such as the choice of independent variables (the parameters that are varied) and dependent variables (the properties of the formulations that result from varying the independent parameters); 3) report the results of their experiments in a clear, relevant manner; 4) critically discuss their results in the light of available theory, by reference to appropriate literature sources; 5) present conclusions on the most appropriate formulation and reflect on the suitability of the methods used and possible improvements and limitations of the approach taken.

42 Taking a genre approach (Tribble & Wingate, 2011)

43 Corpora, Genre, and Talk  Students benefit from seeing not only expert academic writing, but also student writing  Where you have students from a variety of disciplines or undergraduates who do not yet know their major:  Use insights from published studies  Teach students to be genre and language detectives  Help students to see that choices about text/genre type, organization and language are motivated by the discipline.

44 Thank you for your attention.


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