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ERIC Number: ED520850
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 236
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-0489-5
Sophisticated Chaos: The Influence of Academic Discourse on Student Success in First-Year English Composition
Burns, Sharon L.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Cincinnati
Students' conceptualizations of academic writing are often based on their cultural and social expectations of what it means to be a student or an instructor in the academy. These expectations are as varied as any target population and continue to grow as multi-cultural heritages continue to expand. First-year student writers' performances are influenced by the academic discourses they are exposed to, based on the expectations they bring into the composition classroom. Few studies in English composition research have taken into account students' conceptualizations of academic writing based on their expectations, and in turn, the positive and negative influences of academic discourse on students' performances as novice writers. This study expanded the definition of discourse beyond language to mean a participatory tool that integrates social/cultural practices, identities, and behaviors. Using a qualitative approach, this dissertation examined the influence of academic discourse on student success in first-year English composition. This study moved away from the institutional definition of success as quantifiable achievement based on grades and defined success as a desire having intrinsic value when students feel that they have met their goals or objectives in a course. Data sources included classroom observations, student focus groups, and instructor interviews as a means of highlighting the gaps between students' native (private) discourse and academic (public) discourse and influencing factors that impede or promote students' success as they transition into the academy. A distinct decision was made to move away from textual analysis of student work as an analytical tool in an effort to allow participant voices to articulate how students access the academic discourse and any risks that might be associated with its use. Analyses were conducted in three phases using open coding, narrative analysis, and critical discourse analysis. Results demonstrated the influence of academic discourse on students' success in the composition classroom based on their performances as co-creators in the knowledge-building process. These students conceptualized academic writing as a skills-based activity, which provided insight into their limited understanding of academic discourse. Participants social and cultural expectations of what it means to be student or instructor explained why students participated (or not) in a discourse that was not yet familiar, which directly influenced their success as first-year writers in English composition. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A