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Book Genres across the Disciplines: Student Writing In Higher Education (Cambridge Applied Linguistics)

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Genres across the Disciplines: Student Writing In Higher Education (Cambridge Applied Linguistics)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Genres across the Disciplines: Student Writing In Higher Education (Cambridge Applied Linguistics).pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Hilary Nesi(Author)

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Genres across the Disciplines presents cutting edge, corpus-based research into student writing in higher education.Genres across the Disciplines is essential reading for those involved in syllabus and materials design for the development of writing in higher education, as well as for those investigating EAP. The book explores creativity and the use of metaphor as students work towards becoming experts in the genres of their discipline. Grounded in the British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus, the text is rich with authentic examples of assignment tasks, macrostructures, concordances and keywords.Also available separately as a hardback.

Genres across the Disciplines is essential reading for those involved in syllabus and materials design for the development of writing in higher education, as well as for those investigating EAP. The book explores creativity and the use of metaphor as students work towards becoming experts in the genres of their discipline. Grounded in the British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus, the text is rich with authentic examples of assignment tasks, macrostructures, concordances and keywords.Also available separately as a hardback.

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Book details

  • PDF | 308 pages
  • Hilary Nesi(Author)
  • Cambridge University Press (23 Feb. 2012)
  • English
  • 6
  • Languages

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Review Text

  • By Ian Caughlin on 13 April 2015

    The intricate account that Nesi and Gardner unfold over the space of eight chapters makes extensive, illustrative use of The British Academic Written English corpus (BAWE), a main product of the authors’ participation in the four-way directorship of: ‘An investigation of genres of assessed writing in British Higher Education’; funded by The Economic and Social Research Council (2004-2008).Revisiting that investigation, the present account - ‘Genres across the Disciplines’ - centres on the authors’ discussion of thirteen classifications: ‘genre families’. These were configured following observation and consideration of the widest possible UK-wide sample of student-task response-texts: numerous (high-scoring) written products sourced across a well-balanced complement of subject disciplines (BAWE corpus).Genre families purport to offer a precise, economical, yet comprehensive account of the various task-response-profiles that characterise student-written product across the corpus. On discovering certain fundamental kinships across student responses that addressed different task-types the researchers sought to understand the bases of similarity from case to case. It seemed this offered the best route to drawing up a persuasive classification of student text-genres found across disciplines. The resulting genre families together name the range of characteristic profiles that variously correspond to respective whole texts across the corpus. Importantly, tabulation of each genre family highlights associated discourse patterns (Stages) recognisable instances (Networks) and various other pointers (Examples). Genre families incorporate terms that equate to standard assignment descriptions (such as, ‘essay’ - a term the authors found to be too loosely applied across disciplines), but the new alignments ratify these conventional terms, so upgrading their usefulness. Meanwhile, the inherent flexibility within any genre family (that enables it to coordinate ostensibly dissimilar texts), allows it to be conversant with a range of whole-text products, selectively, across disciplines and levels. Aided by keyword counts, the authors were able to test their genre-specifications further; and to apply multidimensional analysis of detailed language use and register across Biber’s five ‘Dimensions’. Such study yielded further insights concerning the distribution, detailed action and in-situ character of genre families, as variously constituted across respective subject disciplines and disciplinary levels.Items were mapped also to Quality Assurance Agency guidance regarding five broad social functions of university student writing. Social connectivity is key to both terms in the book’s main title; and the attention paid, throughout, to the social grounding of varieties of student writing fully legitimises the authors’ use of the term ‘genres’. ‘Grounding’, here, is interchangeable with the plethora of associations that cluster around the term, ‘disciplines’: variously, - an array of different subject expertise; - arenas where written comment is processed in proximity to spoken interactions, reference facilities, practical experiment and extended research; - fields dedicated to the construction and dispersal of knowledge; - shared notions around intellectual rigour, progressive mastery and initiative in face of ever-increasing complexity and challenge; - shared traditions around ways of ordering, presenting and expressing information and ideas; - and the notion of the academy as a major cultural power-base; - as perhaps epitomised by traditions of assessment, grading and accreditation that imply long term impacts for stakeholders.Nor are disciplines ‘set in stone’: - current trends include: widening intake; - the ascendancy of person-centred mores; - changing views about what constitutes effective writing; - and (as possibly associated with these trends) a tendency to build into university provision measures which explicitly address students’ future employment stakes and longer term effectiveness in the wider world.The various cultural-environmental coordinates listed above speak to social genres that play into participants’ conduct around any particular study process or activity, and which necessarily contribute to the shaping of written response texts across subject-disciplines and levels. The QAA-sourced, five broad social purposes of university writing amount to a deft, five-point formula that successfully gathers together these many interlacing themes; and, incidentally, supplies five of the book’s chapter headings.It may be asked why a study of such wide compass was ever proposed; whose interests it might serve; and what practical purpose might be furnished by such intricate cross-scrutiny among the written products of different levels and disciplines. There is much to suggest that the authors are committed to pure, open-ended exploration, and to feats of pattern recognition and multidimensional analysis; - and a refusal to prejudge or foreclose would certainly be consistent with these scholarly values. Nevertheless, direct practical benefits and likely beneficiaries might be readily identified. The authors themselves express the hope that language support to mixed-discipline groups will benefit from this account if tutors derive insights that allow them to fine-tune their approaches. Over recent years there have been schemes for sharing awareness between language-support practitioners and subject-lecturers in hopes of enhancing all-round support for novice scholastic writers. The authors draw attention to the widening intake of students, wider debates around inclusion, and the great influx to UK masters courses of students from overseas; three cases which argue for addressing academic-language needs in explicit, proactive ways. Moreover, a clearer sense of genre might not only enhance writer-support across disciplines but also promote transparency in matters of task framing and in aspects of assessment that apply more particularly to writing standards. The authors consider how, apart from benefiting pre-sessional and in-sessional support and guidance, greater awareness of genre might help students to widen their repertoires in preparation for the range of writing duties that await them in their professional roles and future workplaces.Finally, given that a considerable amount of interviewing occurred alongside direct examination of students’ written product, it is clear that the authors sought to understand these competent students’ own views concerning, both the types of writing task they are confronted with, and the various ways in which they choose to respond. Just as the self-aware comment of student writers directly helped these researchers, this kind of awareness was itself a focus of research. Indeed, ‘awareness around genre: its likely benefits for academic writers at undergraduate and postgraduate level’, could be taken as the chief polemical theme, as also main descriptive subtopic, of Nesi and Gardner’s highly intriguing ‘Genres across the Disciplines’.

  • By The Right Honourable Right On on 5 September 2012

    This is pioneering stuff - and a really significant addition to the whole area of academic discourse. The collection of Genres here adds up to a pretty comprehensive set that will inevitably further this expanding field. Recommended for undergraduate and post-graduate courses in English and Applied Linguistics, and for courses with a professional focus upon teaching English.


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