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Signe Ebeling and Paul Wickens

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  1. Author stance in theme position: variation across disciplines and years in a corpus of assessed student writing Signe Ebeling and Paul Wickens

  2. The British Academic Written English Corpus • Part of the ongoing ESRC-funded project An investigation of genres of assessed writing in British Higher Education (RES-000-23-0800 ) • Collaboration between Oxford Brookes, Warwick and Reading Universities • Collection of 3,000-3,500 student assignments at Undergraduate and Masters level – all marked >60% • Four disciplinary groupings: • Arts & Humanities • Medical & Life Sciences • Physical Sciences • Social Sciences Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  3. Data selection English studies 48 Engineering Health and social care Anthropology Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  4. Thematic choice, stanceand disciplinary variation “The literacy practices of a disciplinary community embody different orientations to knowledge constructions […] The initial constituent of the clause appears to have particular significance in the way it reflects the writer's beliefs and values, and thus provides an indicator of disciplinary difference in professional academic writing.” (North 2005: 435) • Aims: • point out disciplinary differences and/or similarities in the thematic choices of students’ academic writing. • look at possible reasons why disciplines show different or similar tendencies in terms of ‘point of departure of the message’. Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  5. Framework and classification of data • T-unit: "an independent clause together with all hypotactically related clauses which are dependent on it" (Fries 1994: 229) • Topical theme: typically fills a participant role within the clause and is most commonly found to be the grammatical subject (or the subject of the main proposition) • Orienting theme: the elements preceding the topical theme • Textual – makes "explicit the way the clause relates to the surrounding discourse" (Halliday 2004: 83) • Experiential – may contain fronted hypotactic clauses and “experiential elements which do not fill participant roles (mainly circumstantial adjuncts)" (North 2005: 438) • Interpersonal – typically expresses the speaker's "own angle on the matter in hand" (Halliday 2004: 84) Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  6. An overview of orienting themes across disciplines Figures (approximate) per 100 t-units Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  7. Interpersonal themes in the BAWE materialExamples 1) Modal adjunct Clearly force is essential to the complete turn around of rebellious individuals in 1984,(BAWE3003c) 2) Interrogative / inversion Does this leave the individual with any hope?(BAWE3003c) 3) Imperative Considerthe use of plastic gears for one stage of speed reduction.(BAWE0023e) 4) Personal projecting clause In both novels, Orwell suggests that every system of power will inevitably abuse the use of language as mechanisms of control, (BAWE3007a) 5) Non-personal projecting clause It is possible that this is more than a criticism of the Bible itself but of the “canonizing process”, which Ostriker also argues has “throughout history rested, not accidentally but essentially, in the silencing of women.” (BAWE3006k) Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  8. Distribution of interpersonal themes per 100 t-units Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  9. Interpersonal themes: Projection Muir (2004) states that Researchers have shown that Non-self Personal I propose that I believe Self Projection External it is claimed for instance that The graph shows that Non-self Internal Non-personal it is clear that There is a possibility that Self Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  10. Interpersonal themes: projection Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  11. Disciplinary Differences: Personal Projection Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  12. Disciplinary Differences: Non-Personal Projection Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  13. ‘Disciplinary Literature’ • Textbooks • Research Literature • Lectures ‘Object of Study’ Student Writing Mediated or second order learning Teaching in HE is “… a rhetorical activity, seeking to persuade students to change the way they experience the world (and to) enable students to learn the descriptions of the world devised by others. (…) It is mediated learning, allowing students to acquire knowledge of someone else’s way of experiencing the world. “ Laurillard (1993) p28-29 Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  14. Health Care • Draws equally on literature (P + NP Non-Self) and personal (P + NP Self) as point of deparutre to orientate reader. • Key epistemology is of reflective practitioner: evident in P/ Self. • Clusters of Interpersonal themes. E.g. in conclusion • Projection gives reflective distance and integrates two elements. Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  15. Conclusion 2nd year Health Care Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  16. Anthropology • Key focus: Literature as point of departure (P + NP Non-Self) • Lack of explicit self (P/Self). Use of NP Self. • Example of ‘pattern’ or clusters of interpersonal theme (projection): • Personal Non-Self: arguments in the literature Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  17. English Studies • Few Interpersonal themes (twice as many Textual and Experiential) • Extensive referencing and quotation exists but little projection: point of departure • Integrated into main clause (use of numerical index system) The way in the Romantic poets ‘revolutionised’ such rational and structured ideas is abundantly evident in William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, “arguably the most important single volume of the romantic period” which “signalled a literary revolution.”[1] [1] Duncan Wu Romanticism: An Anthology Second Edition (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1998) p.189 Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  18. In both novels the dystopic totalitarian regimes purport ways of living in a disturbingly collective manner. In the world of ‘1984’ the distortion of reality by the omnipresent Big Brother creates a society absent of purpose and without the freedom of individual choice. In The Handmaid’s Tale the abundance of biblical imagery, and allusion to various narratives of the Bible generates a harrowing image of a futuristic patriarchal society, which legitimates the humiliation and enslavement of women with literal interpretations of scripture. However, what I would also argue as a key idea in both novels, and also feminist hermeneutics, is the importance of the preservation of the individual self within the larger, collective body. In particular,feminist readings of the Bible, and indeed Atwood’s novel itself, demonstrate that the voices of these individuals should not, and will not, remain silenced. (conclusion • Orienting themes: experiential Circumstances relating to text: object of study • Clusters of textual and interpersonal themes for key points • Literature or personal stance not often the point of departure • In gerneral, writers perspective on the text (object of study) is the main proposition Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  19. Engineering • No P/ Non-Self and few NP Non-self. (few references and citation) • Little explicit ‘Self’ (P/ Self). There is use of NP/Self • NP/ Non-self / Internal – refers to data or proposition established in student’s text. It is unlikely though that anyone could apply his or her full body weight to the drill, as this would unbalance him or her. This principle suggests that the restraints on the beam in the experimental and initial FE model would have no effect on the results due to the distance from the ends exceeding 306mm. Howeverthe results indicate that this is not the case where the FE model produced two different sets of results for differing end restraints, with the experimental and theoretical giving two different yield loads. Westminster Institute of Education BAWE

  20. References Fries, P. H. 1994. On Theme, Rheme and Discourse Goals. In Coulthard, M. (ed.) Advances in Written Text Analysis. London/ New york: Routledge. Halliday, M.A.K. 2004. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. 3rd edition, revised by C.M.I.M. Matthiessen. London: Arnold. Hyland, K. 2005. Stance and engagement: a model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies 7 (2). 173-192. Laurillard, D. (1993). Rethinking University Teaching - a Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology. London: Routledge. Mauranen, A. 1993. Theme and Prospection in Written Discourse. In Baker, M., G. Francis and E. Tognini-Bonelli (eds.) Text and Technology. In Honour of John Sinclair. Philadelphia / Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 95-114. Nesi, H., S. Gardner, R. Forsyth, D. Hindle, P. Wickens, S. Ebeling, M. Leedham, P. Thompson, and A. Heuboeck. 2005. Towards the compilation of a corpus of assessed student writing: An account of work in progress. In Danielsson, P. and M. Wagenmakers (eds.) Proceedings from The Corpus Linguistics Conference Series, Vol. 1, no. 1. http://www.corpus.bham.ac.uk/PCLC/ North, S. P. 2003. Emergent disciplinarity in an interdisciplinary course: theme use in undergraduate essays in the history of science. PhD Dissertation. The Open University. North, S. 2005. Disciplinary variation in the use of theme in undergraduate essays. Applied Linguistics 26/3. 431-452. Wickens, P. 2001. Computer Based Learning and Changing Legal Pedagogic Orders of Discourse in UK Higher Education: A Comparative Critical Discourse Analysis of the TLTP materials for Law” PhD Dissertation, University of Warwick; Westminster Institute of Education BAWE