- Slides: 53
Spreading the Word: The challenge of the corpus as an agent of change Hilary Nesi Coventry University, UK
A talk about connecting theory and practice
The original research questions of the BAWE corpus 1. What are the characteristics of proficient student writing produced for degree programmes in British universities? 2. How can this writing be categorised in terms of genres and sub-genres? 3. What are the characteristics of genres produced at different stages of university study? 4. What are the characteristics of genres produced in different disciplines, and for different degree programmes?
Its aim: to develop descriptors for all the genres of British university student assignment – identifying assignment types according to their social purposes.
• 6, 506, 995 words • 2, 896 texts • 2, 761 assignments • 1, 953 written by L 1 speakers of English • 1, 251 “distinction” and 1, 402 “merit” • 1000+ modules & 300 degree courses Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Arts & Humanities 200 200 Life Science 200 200 Physical Science 200 200 Social Science 200 200
30+ disciplines represented Arts & Humanities Archaeology, Applied Linguistics, Classics, Comparative American Studies, English, History, Philosophy Life Sciences Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Food Sciences, Health, Psychology, Medical Science Physical Sciences Architecture, Chemistry, Computer Science, Cybernetics & Electronics, Engineering, Mathematics, Meteorology, Physics, Planning Social Sciences Anthropology, Business, Economics, HLTM (Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management), Law, Politics, Publishing, Sociology
Contextual and Textual Information Files marked for • writer (age, L 1, gender, schooling, course) • module (title, department, disc. group) • assignment (title, level, date, grade >60) • number of words, s-units, p-units, tables, figures, block quotes, formulae, lists, abstract, w/s, s/p, … • and genre family
The Genre Families 1. Case Study 2. Critique 3. Design Specification 4. Empathy Writing 5. Essay 6. Exercise 7. Explanation 8. Literature Survey 9. Methodology Recount 10. Narrative Recount 11. Problem Question 12. Proposal 13. Research Report
Also tagged for 67 linguistic features Tense and aspect markers Prepositional phrases, adjectives and adverbs Place and time adverbials Lexical specificity (type token ratio, mean word length) Pronouns and pro-verbs Downtoners, hedges, amplifiers, emphatics etc. Modals Questions Specialized verb classes such as 'public', 'private' and 'suasive' verbs Nominal forms Reduced forms and dispreferred structures such as split infinitives Passives Coordination Stative forms Negation Subordination features
Plenty of data here! For comparisons across: • Disciplines • Disciplinary groupings • Levels • Genre families And possibly between: • Writers with different L 1 s
Some findings: across levels Level Average Words per assignment Sentences per assignment Words per sentence 1 2 3 4 1782 2323 2637 2903 75 95 108 122 24. 8 25. 6 25. 5 24. 6 Involved Narrative Elaborated Persuasive Abstract / Impersonal 1 -12. 8 -2. 7 5. 1 -1. 4 5. 9 2 -13. 9 -2. 8 5. 6 -1. 5 6. 2 3 -14. 8 -3. 0 5. 7 -1. 4 6. 4 4 -17. 3 -3. 2 6. 4 -2. 0 5. 4
Across levels, L 1 -English students show • Increase in nouns; slight decrease in verbs • Increase in the use of phrasal post-modifiers of nouns • Strong increase in the use of phrasal premodifiers of nouns • Decrease in the use of complement clauses, finite relative clauses
Some findings: across genres
Some findings: across genres
BUT. . where’s the connection?
Recent publications on the BAWE website
An ESRC-funded follow-on project March 2012 - April 2013 Intended to apply findings from ‘An Investigation of Genres of Assessed Writing in British Higher Education’ 2004 -2007 For the British Council Learn English website http: //learnenglish. britishcouncil. org/en/
Beneficiaries • student writers who are not yet fully familiar with departmental writing conventions. • tutors - the materials will be suitable for use in class, in one-to-one writing tutorials, or on a self-access basis, according to local requirements. • subject lecturers, by providing insights into the specific language features that characterise writing in their disciplines.
Project objectives • To raise teachers' and learners' awareness of the types of writing produced by students in specific disciplines • To create motivating and attractive academic writing materials • To improve the quality of student writing, especially the writing produced by users of English as a second or a foreign language.
The exercises on the Learn English site
The five purposes of student writing
Demonstrating knowledge & understanding
Building Research Skills
Developing powers of independent reasoning
Writing for oneself and others
Preparing for professional practice
Genre families Disciplines Problem Question Exercise Narrative Recount Explanation Proposal Essay Critique Research Report Design Specification Methodology Recount Literature Survey Empathy Writing Case Study Archaeology, Applied Linguistics, Classics, American Studies, English, History, Philosophy Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Food Sciences, Health, Psychology, Medicine Architecture, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electronics, Engineering, Mathematics, Meteorology, Physics, Planning Anthropology, Business, Economics, HLTM , Law, Politics, Publishing, Sociology
The British Council site http: //learnenglish. britishcouncil. org/en/
The Wordtree Word Tree http: //wordtree. coventry. ac. uk/? BAWE
From Case Study clusters to the Sketch Engine
Some examples Methodology Recount (the) aim of this experiment/report is/was Case Study it is important / recommended / suggested / vital that
The Writing for a Purpose team Hilary Nesi and Sheena Gardner - from the original ESRC project Andy Gillett – materials developer Tim Kelly – video and multimedia Alex Woolner – consultant from Coventry Serious Games Institute Elly Hutchins – art work Martin Peacock and Melissa Cudmore – British Council Adam Kightley – British Council website Stakeholders – representing EAP practitioners in universities and language schools • A wider group of EAP practitioners – to pilot materials • •
The end - thanks for listening!