The role of computer-mediated communication in non-native speakers' acquisition of academic literacy
Rui Cheng, University of South Florida, United States
University of South Florida . Awarded
Research shows that academic literacy is discipline specific. Students have to learning the ways of communication in order to gain access to the discourse community of the selected discipline through understanding and performing required genres and learning necessary disciplinary knowledge. Scaffolding is important in the process to help students internalize the disciplinary knowledge and improve students' performance on academic papers. Computer-mediated communication (CMC) provides good chances of scaffolding and mediation especially for non-native graduate students who may have lost many opportunities of class participation due to their limited language proficiency or other cultural issues.
In this dissertation, the researcher investigated how a group of L2 students tried to acquire academic literacy in applied linguistics by completing a series of teacher preparation classes. CMC was built naturally into the classes where students kept online discussions on various components of applied linguistics and were engaged in some online peer review activity on draft papers. Data were gathered from 8 sources: observations, questionnaire, online discussion entries, online peer feedback, students' major assignments, source materials, interviews and discourse-based interviews. The various sources of data were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively using different methods and schemes to present how L2 graduate students negotiate their academic literacy in CMC environment in terms of language functions and focus; how CMC influences both the process and the product of student's academic writing; and how students perceive CMC in the academic literacy acquisition process.
Analysis of data indicated that non-native English speaking students used various language functions in their negotiation of academic literacy with their peers in the online discussion. They tended to apply a wider range of language function as they became more familiar with the discourse community. Students in this study also applied multiple intertextual techniques in the online discussion, whereas only a few were used in face-to-face class discussions. Results also indicated that computer-mediated communication facilitated students' understanding of tasks, performance of writing activities and applying citation conventions correctly. The scaffolding among students enabled them to effectively learn disciplinary knowledge and develop their academic literacy. Analysis of the students draft and final papers in the online peer review activities indicated that students incorporated peers' feedback into their revisions and benefited from such activities although they claimed high quality feedback was still not enough. Finally, although the students considered that computer-mediated communication had some drawbacks, it did facilitate their acquisition of academic literacy in the field of applied linguistics.
Cheng, R. The role of computer-mediated communication in non-native speakers' acquisition of academic literacy. Ph.D. thesis, University of South Florida.
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