Discourses of academic language development in a UK university

NICHOLLS, Karen (2023). Discourses of academic language development in a UK university. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00534


Despite calls for explicit language development to be integrated into curricula, in the United Kingdom language development in higher education largely takes place in an ad hoc manner. This is problematic given the increasing diversity in students’ linguistic backgrounds. Through this research I demonstrate that one of the reasons for the lack of university-wide approaches to integrated language development is that key stakeholders have different perspectives and different accounts of what the development of effective language use involves. Specifically, I illuminate key stakeholders’ discourses of language development in higher education. By discourses I mean the use of language in social contexts which portrays the speaker or writer’s position. Highlighting their different discourses reveals concepts, values and beliefs that influence their stance towards language development. This is important because stakeholders need to develop shared understandings to discuss institution-wide approaches to integrating language into the curriculum. The research is guided by a constructionist epistemology and comprises a multiple case study of three interlocking cases, each bounded by a stakeholder group within a single UK university. Data collection methods are designed with my own multiple positionalities in mind and data analysis follows inductive thematic analysis. By illuminating the discourses of key stakeholders and applying a lens of language as a social semiotic, I create a framework which can change practice by building shared understandings on which university-wide approaches can be established. I also analyse potential causes of differences in understandings and include them explicitly within the framework. The potential impact of the research findings is that they set an agenda for constructive conversations between stakeholders to agree how language development can be integrated into curricula in an effective and sustainable manner. This research has the potential to change how universities think about language in the academy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Taylor, Roberta [0000-0002-2924-8216]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Roberta Taylor "No PQ harvesting"
Uncontrolled Keywords: Article based PhD
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00534
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2023 15:46
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2024 16:19
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32235

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