Date of Award

5-2016

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Isolde Mueller

Second Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Third Advisor

Semya Hakim

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Oral participation, Identity, Academic Discourse Socialization, Small group discussions, EAP, University

Abstract

As an instructor in an English for Academic Purposes program, students’ patterns of participation were puzzling to me. I wondered why some international students did not speak in class and what I could do to help them. This research attempted to discover participants’ perspectives regarding academic discourse socialization in small group activities, how students relate participation to their identities, and to discover the changes in identity and participation which occurred throughout the semester. In this research, 12 international university-level ESL students were involved in a dialogue journal which included a pre- and post-semester questionnaire, video-recorded small group discussions, and an audio-recorded stimulated recall task.

Through a statistical analysis and an emergent theme approach, it was found that although students’ frequency counts for oral turns taken and number and type of academic strategies used did not significantly increase, changes did occur in relation to students’ perceptions and attitudes as identified in the stimulated recall, discussion journal, and questionnaire methods. Students experienced increased confidence after expressing initial anxiety about fears of being misunderstood or making mistakes. The confidence arose after their negotiation of academic discourse and negotiation of identity throughout the semester. They also reported improvements in their oral speaking abilities. Students gained knowledge of their own academic backgrounds and of academic strategies including the importance of listening, critical thinking, and developing their pronunciation and vocabulary. Students also expressed a preference for small group discussion despite having minimal experience in their home countries.

Comments/Acknowledgements

First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my committee members: Isolde Mueller, Choonkyong Kim, and Semya Hakim whose guidance, patience, and feedback aided my research immensely. I would like to thank each member individually: Dr. Mueller for guiding me towards an appreciation for narratives and stories in research, Dr. Kim for initial topic selection guidance and permission and ideas for implementing this project in my EAP Listening and Speaking course, and Dr. Hakim for challenging me to think deeply about notions of power in relation to education.

My sincere appreciation goes to the students who participated in this research. Your optimism and hard work are inspiring. May you all experience tremendous success during your time in an American university and beyond!

Finally, I’d like to thank my partner, Thomas, Rotchadl, for supporting me through many long days of reading articles on our travels, writing and editing this paper in coffee shops, and for tolerating having papers strewn about the house for years.

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