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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social Environments, Writing Support Networks, and Academic Writing: A Study of First Year International Graduate Students
by Moglen, Daniel Justin, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2017, 257; 10264425
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is an inquiry into the social experiences of first year international graduate students, and how those social experiences inform their academic writing development. Drawing from the sociocognitive perspective (Atkinson, 2002; Lantolf, 2000), this study recognizes that the university is social in nature, and language learning occurs in the mind, body, and world (Atkinson et al., 2007). The international graduate students in this study were recruited from the first quarter academic writing class in fall 2014 (n=113), and were surveyed at four time points throughout the academic year. The dissertation focuses on four students, Luiza from Brazil, Camila from Chile, Q from Korea, and Kira from China as illustrative examples of the social environments that students have as well as trajectories of writing development. The focal students participated in three interviews throughout the year and written texts were also collected at three time points (at the end of the fall, winter, and spring quarters). Findings from the students’ social environments suggest that students tend to gravitate towards co-nationals in social settings. In terms of receiving writing support, students in the study relied primarily of colleagues and friends, followed by professors. Writing tutors and family members were sought out the least for writing support. Peers tended to be more accessible and approachable than professors, while professors were rated as more helpful than peers. In terms of the writing development of the students, this study focuses on clausal, phrasal, and lexical complexity. Findings from the textual analysis portion suggest that the writing of the focal students became more complex based on these measurements. In particular, students generally scored higher on the number of modifiers per noun phrase measure throughout the year, suggesting that their noun phrases were becoming more complex, although there were some deviations to this pattern. Also, students used more words from the academic word list and field specific jargon throughout the year. The implications of this study are relevant to writing professors, STEM professors, international student services, and the university as a whole.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Menard-Warwick, Julia
Commitee: Hawkins, John, Perrault, Sarah
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, English as a Second Language, Higher education
Keywords: Community of practice, Complexity, ESL, Linguistics, Second language writing, Social networks
Publication Number: 10264425
ISBN: 978-0-355-14971-5
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