“What kind of paper do you want from us?”: developing genre knowledge in one Kazakhstani university postgraduate school

Philip Montgomery, Jason Sparks, Bridget Goodman

Abstract


Drawing on the Academic Literacies perspectives of Lea and Street and key genre theorists, this mixed-methods case study explored multilingual student experiences of academic literacy practices in one postgraduate social-science school in an English-medium university in Kazakhstan. Two questions guided the research: (1) To what extent and in what ways do students develop genre knowledge in their school EMI contexts?; (2) Which pedagogical approaches and strategies do students identify as beneficial in supporting genre knowledge development? The study found students developed genre awareness for research-related literacy practices, involving field-, tenor- and mode-related genre knowledge. The study also found student capacity to apply genre knowledge successfully across a range of text genres. Another finding was that challenge and success in genre knowledge development was a function of the extent of explicit feedback from instructors and peers and explicit assignment expectations. Each of our findings are consistent with the critique and recommendations of Lea and Street (1998; 2006) on the importance of a situated approach to developing student academic literacy practice that accounts for the larger institutional contexts and epistemological traditions in which those practices have meaning. These findings have important value for discussions and debates on student academic literacy learning and practice in higher education in Kazakhstan, across Central Asia and in other countries where policies for internationalization and research universities are rapidly transforming higher education literacy practice in the current era of globalization.


Keywords


academic literacies; systemic functional linguistics; genre; feedback; task guidelines; scaffolding

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ISSN: 1759-667X