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Genre and cognition in an mba program. Nigel A. Caplan ( [email protected] ) University of Delaware, USA PhD Student, School of Education Assistant Professor, English Language Institute. Genre 2012, Ottawa, Ontario. Competing Approaches.

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Genre and cognition in an mba program

Genre and cognition in an mba program

Nigel A. Caplan ([email protected])

University of Delaware, USA

PhD Student, School of Education

Assistant Professor, English Language Institute

Genre 2012, Ottawa, Ontario

Competing approaches
Competing Approaches

Cognitive Strategies





  • Needs Analysis: Context & Culture

  • Discussion: Participation, Pragmatics, and Purpose

  • Case analysis: Coherence, Conventions, and Cognition

  • Conclusion: Activity Theory

Needs analysis context and culture
Needs analysis: Context and Culture

  • Conditional Admissions Program (CAP)

  • English Language Institute (English for Academic Purposes, graduate/MBA track)

  • Most ELI graduate students are CAP-MBA

  • Almost all international MBA students come from CAP

Why don’t the Chinese speak in class?

Needs analysis data
Needs Analysis: Data

  • Syllabi of MBA classes

  • Online questionnaires for MBA faculty and international students

  • Observation of an MBA class

  • Focus groups and interviews with MBA faculty

  • Focus groups with international MBA students (ongoing)

  • “Think-aloud” sessions with MBA faculty

    Instruments available online at

    (Handouts  Genre 2012)

Discussion participation pragmatics purpose
Discussion: Participation, Pragmatics, Purpose

Case genre system forman rymer 1999
Case Genre System(Forman & Rymer, 1999)

  • The “focus [is] on practical problem solving in real situations and on engaged interaction between students and instructors.”

  • The case discussion is an “agonistic approach to experiential learning … a democratic event is which the instructor serves as a facilitator and equal partner with all the students.”


  • A = Visible, thoughtful, and regular involvementin class discussion. You got involved, and not just for the purpose of hearing yourself speak. Class members seemed to pay attention to what you said, and your comments almost always were appropriate to the context.

    BUAD 870 Syllabus, Fall 2011

Chinese students really don t speak
Chinese students really don’t speak

Author’s data from a single BUAD 870 class (approx. 90 minutes’ class discussion), Fall 2011

Case analysis coherence conventions cognition
Case Analysis: Coherence, Conventions, Cognition

Set up ^ Diagnosis ^ [Recommendation]n (^Reflection)

Features of the genre
Features of the Genre

  • The set-up should not summarize the case

  • Key words, facts, characters, and statistics from the case should be referenced

  • Evidence must be presented

  • The case write-up exists in the context of the class

  • Format and style conventions must be

  • Professors’ expectations may be idiosyncratic

Cognition creativity critical thinking
Cognition, Creativity, Critical Thinking

  • “You can get a really good grade if you have one really good idea that’s not intuitively obvious.” (faculty interview)

  • “… the mindset” of a good student who “knows how it fits together” (faculty interview)

  • “There is no way to isolate a social process from the minds that carry it out.” (Flower, 1994, p. 31)

A socio cognitive approach
A Socio-Cognitive Approach

Literate actions emerge out of a constructive cognitive process that transforms knowledge in purposeful ways. And at critical moments, this constructive literate act may also become a process of negotiation in which individual readers and writers must juggle conflicting demands and chart a path among alternative goals, constraints, and possibilities. (Flower, 1994, p. 2)

Nigel a caplan

Nigel A. Caplan

University of Delaware

[email protected]

(Handouts  Genre2012)