Doing graduate school in a second language : resituating the self through language socialization in computer-mediated classroom discussions

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2009-08

Authors

Ha, Myung Jeong

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Abstract

This dissertation adds to the growing body of research on L2 academic discourse socialization in classroom contexts. Although the importance of students' writing in socializing them into their target discourse communities has been well documented, much less has been made of how students learn through online activities when the division between more and less knowledgeable individuals are blurred. Addressing this gap, this qualitative extended case study explored the experiences and perspectives of novice L2 graduate students in academic literacy practices that involved online writing activities. The focal participants included five first-year female graduate students from different cultural backgrounds enrolled in a graduate class during fall 2008 semester. Data sources included interviews with focal students and with the professor, class observations, field notes, questionnaires, handouts, and students' reflective essays. Anchored in language socialization theories (Duff, 1996, 2003; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986) and the notion of community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998), this study provides an ecological perspective on these five L2 students' socialization into academic literacy activities. The findings revealed how the students negotiated competence, relations, and identities to participate legitimately as competent members of their classroom communities. This study also contributes to an understanding of the changing role of novice learners in a given academic community by analyzing how they variably exercise their agency and develop their subject positioning in academic literacy activities that are imbricated in social, cultural, and discoursal contexts. Ultimately, this study enriches the notions of academic discourse socialization by demonstrating the dialogic and transformative nature of academic literacy practices mediated by online discourses in order to highlight ever more contextual information.

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