Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

When the Spaniels conquered Central America: Academic English and first year composition instruction
by Sugawara, Yosei, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2013, 279; 3605920
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents the findings of an on-line survey completed by 222 FYC (First Year Composition) instructors at universities and community colleges across the United States along with supplemental information derived from multiple open-ended interviews with seven FYC instructors in Arizona. Both survey and interview questions were designed to accomplish three primary goals: to determine which conventions of academic English FYC instructors identify as most important; to understand the common problems encountered by instructors in teaching those conventions, and; to solicit instructors' perceptions about ways in which learning outcomes might be improved.

Results indicate general consensus among FYC instructors on which skills are both the most critical to academic English proficiency and the most difficult for their students to learn. At the same time, the survey and interview responses reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the ways in which academic English sequences are currently structured, apparently related to the instructors' common perception that the sequences are only "somewhat" successful in terms of preparing students for successful academic writing. Accordingly, the overwhelming majority of FYC instructors suggest changes for increasing the effectiveness of their programs; however, there is surprisingly little agreement among them on what those changes should be.

The concluding section of this study presents pragmatic suggestions — congruent with a number of the instructors' observations — for reconfiguring FYC sequences. Additionally, it is argued that, aside from the targeted skills addressed by the instructors, the survey and interview responses indicate that academic English has been implicitly invested with culture-specific values which should be made explicit in instruction and which, given the gatekeeping status of FYC courses, the increasing diversity of student populations and the growing divide between the academic and wider cultures, require critical examination.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wyman, Leisy T.
Commitee: Anders, Patricia L., Popen, Shari, Ruiz, Richard
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Language, Reading & Culture
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Language arts, Rhetoric, Higher education
Keywords: Academic English, Academic discourse, Academic language, First year compostion, Postsecondary education, Writing instruction
Publication Number: 3605920
ISBN: 9781303627231
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