Interaction and engagement in problem-based learning sessions: a corpus-based analysis

MacDiarmid, Carole (2017) Interaction and engagement in problem-based learning sessions: a corpus-based analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This research is motivated by the need for a better understanding of the nature of student-centred interactions in university settings. Although there is now a considerable amount of research into written academic English, studies of spoken academic English, particularly of student-centred, disciplinary-specific events, are still relatively few in comparison. This work aims to go some way towards redressing the balance.
The study provides a description of a variety of linguistic features of one type of speech event, problem-based learning sessions (PBLs), within the context of a postgraduate programme in Medical Genetics. PBLs are underpinned by a very clear pedagogy driving their incorporation into academic programmes: through a cycle of tutorials, individual research and presentations, students develop content knowledge and the skills thought essential for the professional practitioner. Although common within the field of medicine, there has been relatively little research into how the discipline and pedagogy are realised linguistically.
This study analyses a specially compiled corpus of five complete PBL cycles, each with two stages. It comprises over 12 hours of speech, approximately 115,000 words and is searchable as a whole and for each stage. By applying a variety of approaches, including Conversation Analysis (CA), Corpus Linguistics, and aspects of Discourse Analysis, this allows for a more detailed and fine-grained analysis of student discourse than one approach alone.
Applying CA, the study identifies features of the overall organisational structure and the different patterns of talk found in each stage. Academic functions common to the stage two presentations are also identified. The corpus-based analysis investigates three specific linguistic areas: keyword analysis is used to explore vocabulary as a marker of the discipline and approach, personal pronouns as markers of engagement, and the structural and discourse functions of lexical bundles. The investigation into how the interactions unfold and the consideration of keywords reflect the discipline and underlying epistemology of PBL sessions. Clear differences in the frequency and use of personal pronouns and lexical bundles are evident in each stage, indicating that both the mode (spoken) and the nature of each speech event (highly interactive exchanges or presentations) affect linguistic choices.
This study of a bespoke corpus provides an in-depth analysis of a disciplinary-specific, student-centred speaking event. This may be useful for EAP teachers and task and materials designers working with students on pre-sessional programmes who need academic language support. Methodologically it adds to the growing number of studies taking a multidimensional approach (i.e. in methodology and focus) to understanding spoken academic discourse.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: English for academic purposes, EAP, corpus, spoken discourse, problem-based learning, interaction in speaking, engagement.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Emmott, Dr. Catherine and Anderson, Dr. Wendy
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Dr carole macdiarmid
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8327
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 09:56
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 08:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8327

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