Expressions of voice and trajectories of writers’ selves in academic writing : transitioning from an academic bridging course to postgraduate programmes : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics and Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Abstract This longitudinal study explores the use of language involved in the construction of voice in academic scripts, as well as personal perspectives relating to the concept of voice, its perceived role and its usage in an academic script. The main aim is to demystify the perceived elusiveness of voice, and present a number of textual features which are analysed longitudinally in order to identify changes in a writer’s identity. The study draws upon previous research by Halliday (1985), Ivaniç (1998) and Thompson (2014) which has provided a framework for investigating how language contributes to the process of interpersonal communication. The qualitative data resulted from an analysis of novice postgraduate ESOL student scripts, as well as from interviews with the main stakeholders involved in academic writing: the students, ESOL teachers on the bridging programme in which they studied, and lecturers in the postgraduate courses in which they subsequently enrolled. Three longitudinal interviews involving 21 students and email interviews with nine ESOL teachers and four postgraduate lecturers provided opportunities for my participants to share their perceptions of voice in academic writing, particularly on Master’s programmes, in order to show how voice reflects beliefs, past and present circumstances, and social constructions of the self. Analysed through the theoretical framework of the Communities of Practice developed by Lave and Wenger (1991) and Wenger (1998), the findings indicate that students were interested in the textual technicalities surrounding the expression of voice. They had personal views about voice which they openly expressed in interviews and applied in their scripts. Longitudinally, the voice markers used in their texts were in assonance with their willingness to contribute new knowledge to their second language (L2) disciplinary community, an aspect also highlighted in three case studies’ findings. Overall, the expressions of voice through the textual features proposed by this study diminished in scripts in the transition from the academic bridging programme to the postgraduate studies. The teachers’ approaches to voice instruction were primarily informed by their voice acquisition experience resulting from their mainstream studies, both general and academic. The postgraduate lecturers seemed to expect simplicity in the grammatical structures used in a script but held different views relating to students’ authorial contribution to knowledge in a Master’s script.
English language, Rhetoric, Study and teaching (Higher), Foreign speakers, Academic writing, Cross-cultural studies, Expression (Philosophy), Self (Philosophy)