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Development of writing for research purposes : an ecological exploration of writing process in a linguistically and culturally diverse class

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Development of writing for research purposes : an ecological exploration of writing process in a linguistically and culturally diverse class

MacMillan, Stuart James (2009) Development of writing for research purposes : an ecological exploration of writing process in a linguistically and culturally diverse class. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

For graduate level students, achieving academic success at university requires learning to communicate results of research in complex written forms. Yet faculty members are consistently forced to counter the deficits in research writing abilities of a sizable percentage of their students. Challenges have been exacerbated in recent years by an influx of students for whom English is not a native language. With the aim of providing insights to improve the design of learning environments that support novice research writing, this study employs an ecological systems framework to explore how graduate level students from a range of cultural and language backgrounds regulate the research writing process in order to produce a common genre of scholarly interaction, specifically a proposal for a research project. By relying on qualitative research methodology comprising 1) classroom observation, 2) analysis of student writing, and 3) personal interviews about the writing process, it traces the influence of specific resources and tools on writing produced by eight students in a master's level research methodology course, and investigates how learner beliefs, past experience and affective factors have enabled and constrained the use of tools and resources in the service of research writing. Results show that despite explicit guidance provided throughout the course, some students made non-conventional moves from a genre perspective in their proposal drafts. Significant challenges for study participants related to precision in research focus, conceptual challenges, and the organisation of content. Difficulties also emerged for students planning qualitative studies who had come from disciplines that have traditionally encouraged forms of writing more conventional in the experimental sciences. For non-native English speakers, additional, but limited challenges related to uncertainties about lexicogrammatical form and word choice. The study concludes with a discussion of how conditions and task demands may be altered such that effective use of intrapersonal resources is encouraged. It also suggests ways the affordances of external resources and tools might be made more apparent to students. Finally, novice research writing as activity within a broader social system is discussed, including suggestions on how bridges between methodology courses and research Communities of Practice might be established.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:MacMillan, Stuart James
Pagination:xiii, 314 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Carliner, S
ID Code:976455
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:26
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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