Postgraduate students' reading of disciplinary academic texts in a second language : an activity theoretical analysis of textual actions and interactions

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Postgraduate students' reading of disciplinary academic texts in a second language : an activity theoretical analysis of textual actions and interactions

 

Author: Tchigaeva, Svetlana
Title: Postgraduate students' reading of disciplinary academic texts in a second language : an activity theoretical analysis of textual actions and interactions
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2005
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Reading -- Social aspects
Literacy -- Social aspects
Intertextuality
Language and languages -- Study and teaching
Department: Dept. of English
Pages: xvii, 375 p. : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1818129
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/573
Abstract: Advanced academic literacy has recently attracted a significant amount of attention from second language researchers who, among other issues, have been interested in how postgraduate students, by engaging in text-mediated activities, socialize into and expand their participation with disciplinary communities of practice (Belcher, 1994; Blakeslee, 1997; Casanave, 2002; Johns and Swales, 2002, and others). The interest in advanced academic literacy has been preceded by the growing recognition of the importance of the notion of context within literacy research in general. In L2 reading research, though the importance of context has been acknowledged, few studies have actually defined and/or analyzed context in any systematic ways. Drawing on previous research for its theoretical and methodological principles, this PhD study aims to contribute to two major research areas: to L2 reading research by adapting activity theoretical tools and systematically using them in a study of reading-in-context, and to advanced academic literacy research by analyzing reading within the broader context of postgraduate education. Taking a naturalistic research approach, the study captured eleven reader's individual reading experiences through qualitative data collection methods, such as observations, in-depth interviews, think-aloud protocols, and collections and examination of texts, read as well as written. The framework used for the analysis of the rich data was developed on the basis of activity theory (Vygotsky, 1978; Leontev, 1978; Engestrom, 1999) and led to the analysis of reading at three levels perations, actions, and activity systems. The analysis was conducted in three phases: (1) all the cases were analyzed for emerging themes; (2) four cases were selected for in-depth analysis and presentation in the thesis; and (3) the remaining cases were revisited in order to analyze the common themes across them. The analysis of the four case studies revealed that postgraduate reading, when it is studied in contexts of its natural occurrence, is at the same time individual yet deeply social. It extends beyond the interactions between an individual reader and a single text to include multiple texts, semiotic modes, objects of the environment, and people. The cross-case comparison across the eleven cases led to the identification and analysis of three major themes: intertextuality, multimodality, and the situatedness of postgraduate reading in social interactional networks. Based on the analyses, the study concludes that advanced academic reading involves: (1) an ability to recognize and rely on the intertextual nature of academic texts; (2) an ability to understand and utilize multiple semiotic modes which comprise disciplinary texts; and (3) an ability to see reading as an opportunity to engage in furthering participation with disciplinary and professional communities, as well as to rely on prior experiences with multiple communities in dealing with multiple texts.

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