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Academic presentations : exploring the second language socialization of international graduate students.. Zappa Hollman, Sandra Carolina 2001-12-31

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A C A D E M I C PRESENTATIONS: E X P L O R I N G T H E SECOND L A N G U A G E SOCIALIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS ACROSS  DISCIPLINES  by SANDRA C A R O L I N A ZAPPA H O L L M A N  Profesora de Ingles, Institute* Privado Neuquino del Profesorado en Ingles, Argentina, 1994  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E DEGREE OF M A S T E R of A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES  Department of Language and Literacy Education ( T E A C H I N G E N G L I S H AS A S E C O N D L A N G U A G E )  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 2001 © Sandra C . Zappa Hollman, 2001  In  presenting  degree freely  at  this  the  available  copying  of  department publication  of  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia,  for  this or  thesis  reference  thesis by  this  for  his  and  scholarly  or  thesis  study.  her  for  of I  I further  purposes  gain  shall  requirements  agree  that  agree  may  representatives.  financial  the  be  It not  is be  that  the  for  Library  granted  by  the  understood allowed  of  LAiMC-UA£E  ArKip UTggAcy  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6  (2/88)  AU&QSr , 2 3  r <  ^ , 2-Oo  {  make  that  it  extensive  head  without  Et>UcATrOAJ  advanced  shall  permission for  permission.  Department  an  of  copying my  my or  written  ABSTRACT This study examined the language socialization o f international students in the graduate school context o f a western Canadian university. Focusing on one pervasive speech event, academic presentations (APs), this study explored the role this socioculturally organized activity played i n facilitating students' linguistic and sociocultural development, and how it aided them in negotiating their entry into the academic world. The participants i n this study included 55 graduate students and nine course instructors. Thirty seven students were native speakers (NSs) o f English, while the remaining 18-the focal participants of this study—were non-native speakers of English (NNSs). The sites were seven graduate courses in six different departments in three different faculties (Faculty o f Medicine, Faculty o f Arts, and Faculty o f Applied Science). A qualitative approach was employed, and thus multiple kinds o f data were gathered over a four-month period. Data collection methods included: (a) open-ended interviews with participants; (b) tape-recorded observations o f A P s ; (c) researcher's fieldnotes of A P s ; and (d) collection o f written documents (e.g., course outlines). Data were analyzed following Bogdan and Biklen (1992) by identifying major and minor themes while iteratively going over the data. A comparison o f A P s across disciplines is included, examining aspects such as A P content, sequence, length, and format. A s well, an analysis o f the qualities promoted in each field and o f the multiple purposes A P s fulfil is provided and related to the complex socialization (i.e., both linguistic and sociocultural) o f international graduate students.  n  Findings o f the study suggested that A P s are a complex task whose meaning is not fixed, but rather is determined by the interplay o f the broad context o f the academic world, the micro-context o f each community o f practice, and ultimately by each individual. With regard to the language socialization 6 f N N S s , A P s challenged students in both linguistic and sociocultural ways. However, by observing, participating in, and reflecting on A P s , students gained increased membership and competence within their academic communities.  111  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iv  List of Tables  vii  List of Figures  viii  Acknowledgments  ix  Dedication  xi  CHAPTER  CHAPTER  1  2  INTRODUCTION  1  1.1 Identification of the Problem  1  1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5  3 6 7 9  Purpose of the Study Questions Guiding the Research Significance of the Study Thesis Organization  REVIEW OF LITERATURE  11  2.1 Language Socialization, Socioculturally Organized Activities, Task Context, and Communities of Practice 11 2.1.1 Language Socialization and L2 Research 14 2.2 Research on Academic Discourse 21 2.2.1 L 2 Studies on Academic Reading and Writing Tasks 21 2.2.2 L 2 Studies on Oral Academic Tasks 25 CHAPTER 3  CHAPTER 4  METHODOLOGY  31  3.1 A Qualitative Approach 3.2 Participants and Context of Exploration 3.3 Data Collection Procedures 3.3.1 Observations, Fieldnotes and Audio-recordings of APs 3.3.2 Audio Recorded Open-Ended Interviews 3.3.3 Collection of Written Documents Around APs 3.4 Transcription Procedures and Conventions 3.5 Data Analysis  31 32 35 36 38 40 41 41  APs  IN T H E F A C U L T Y O F M E D I C I N E  4.1 Situating the Task 4.2 On the Surface Level: Descriptive Features of APs in Medicine 4.2.1 A P s i n B I O C 6 0 0 iv  43  43 45 45  4.2.2 A P s i n N R S C 6 0 5 47 4.3 Underneath the Surface: Essential Aspects that Help Define APs in Medicine 49 4.3.1 The Content of APs 49 4.3.2 The Sequence Patterns of APs 50 4.3.3 The Purpose(s) of APs 52 4.3.4 Discourse Features of APs 55 4.3.4.1 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Perceived Through Observations ....55 4.3.4.2 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Reported by Presenters 58 4.4 Qualities Promoted in the Faculty of Medicine 59 4.5 Strategies Employed by Presenters 62 4.5.1 Preparation Strategies 63 4.5.2 Delivery Strategies CHAPTER 5  APs  66  IN T H E F A C U L T Y O F A R T S  72  5.1 Situating the Task  72  5.2 On the Surface Level: Descriptive Features of APs in Arts 74 5.2.1 APs in HIST 510 74 5.2.2 APs in A N T H 610 76 5.2.3 APs in F R E N 600 78 5.3 Underneath the Surface: Essential Aspects that Help Define APs in Arts 80 5.3.1 The Content of APs 80 5.3.2 The Sequence Patterns of APs 81 5.3.3 The Purpose(s) of APs 82 5.3.4 Discourse Features of APs 85 5.3.4.1 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Perceived Through Observations ....86 5.3.4.2 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Reported by Presenters 90 5.4 Qualities Promoted in the Faculty of Arts 94 5.5 Strategies Employed by Presenters 98 5.5.1 Preparation Strategies 98 5.5.2 Delivery Strategies 100 CHAPTER  6  APs  IN T H E F A C U L T Y O F A P P L I E D S C I E N C E  105  6.1 Situating the Task 105 6.2 On the Surface Level: Descriptive Features of APs in Applied Science 106 6.2.1 A P s i n E E C E 5 1 0 106 6.2.2 A P s i n E E C E 5 1 2 107 6.3 Underneath the Surface: Essential Aspects that Help Define APs in Applied Science 109 6.3.1 The Content of APs 109 6.3.2 The Sequence Patterns of APs 109 6.3.3 The Purpose(s) of APs Ill 6.3.4 Discourse Features of APs 112 6.3.4.1 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Perceived Through Observations .. 114 6.3.4.2 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Reported by Presenters 118 6.4 Qualities Promoted in Applied Science 123 6.5 Strategies Employed by Presenters 125 6.5.1 Preparation Strategies 125 6.5.2 Delivery Strategies 128  v  CHAPTER  7  DISCUSSION A N D IMPLICATIONS O F T H E S T U D Y  131  7.1 Exploring APs Across Faculties 131 7.1.1 Comparison of Descriptive A P Features Across Fields 131 7.1.2 Comparison of Essential A P Features Across Fields 133 7.1.2.1 A P content 133 7.1.2.2 A P Purposes Across Fields 135 7.1.2.3 A P Discourse Features Across Fields 137 7.1.3 Comparison of A P Qualities Across Fields 139 7.1.4 Comparison of A P Strategies Across Fields 141 7.2 The Co-constructed Nature of APs 143 7.3 The Local Nature of APs 146 7.4 Gaining Membership as a NNS: a Complex Socialization and Negotiation Process ..150 7.5 Pedagogical Implications 154 7.6 Limitations of the Study 156 7.7 Suggestions for Further Research 159 7.8 Summary and Concluding Thoughts 160 References  164  Appendix A : Informed Consent Form  169  Appendix B: Sample Interview Questions  173  Appendix C : Transcription Conventions  176  Appendix D: Detailed List of Participants  178  vi  LIST OF TABLES CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 2 - REVIEW OF LITERATURE  Table 2.1 Language Socialization and L2 Research  20  Table 2.2 Academic Discourse and L2 Research  29  CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY  Table 3.1 Faculty Clusters, Number of Students, and Participants Table 3.2 Observations and Audio-recordings of APs  34 37  Table 3.3 Participants Interviewed  39  C H A P T E R 4 - APs  IN T H E F A C U L T Y O F M E D I C I N E  Table 4.1 Faculty of Medicine Tasks Table 4.2 A P Length - BIOC 600  44 46  Table 4.3 A P Length - N R S C 605  48  C H A P T E R 5 - APs  IN T H E F A C U L T Y O F A R T S  Table 5.1 Faculty of Arts Tasks  73  Table 5.2 A P Length - HIST 510 Table 5.3 A P Length - A N T H 610 Table 5.4 A P Length - F R E N 600  74 76 78  C H A P T E R 6 - APs  IN T H E F A C U L T Y O F A P P L I E D S C I E N C E  Table 6.1 Faculty of Applied Science Tasks Table 6.2 A P Length - E E C E 510 Table 6.3 A P Length - E E C E 512  106 107 108  C H A P T E R 7 - DISCUSSION A N D IMPLICATIONS O F T H E S T U D Y  Table Table Table Table  7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4  A P Descriptive Features Across Faculties A P Length Across Courses A P Content Across Faculties A P Visual Resources Across Faculties  vn  132 133 133 142  LIST OF FIGURES Chapter 1 - Introduction  Figure 1.1 Faculty Clusters and Courses  5  Chapter 2 - Review of Literature  Figure 2.1 Theoretical Framework and Contextualization  13  Chapter 3 - Methodology Chapter 4 - APs in the Faculty of Medicine  Figure 4.1 A P Sequence - BIOC 600  50  Figure 4.2 A P Sequence - N R S C 605 , Figure 4.3 A P Qualities Valued in the Faculty of Medicine Figure 4.4 A P Behaviors Discouraged in the Faculty of Medicine  51 60 61  Chapter 5 - APs in the Faculty of Arts  Figure Figure Figure Figure  5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4  A P Sequence - HIST 510 A P Sequence - F R E N 600 A P Qualities Valued in the Faculty of Arts A P Behaviors Discouraged in the Faculty of Arts  81 82 95 95  Chapter 6 - APs in the Faculty of Applied Science  Figure Figure Figure Figure  6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4  A P Sequence - E E C E 510 A P Sequence - E E C E 512 A P Qualities Valued in the Faculty of Applied Science A P Behaviors Discouraged in the Faculty of Applied Science  110 110 123 124  Chapter 7 - Discussion and Implications of the Study  Figure 7.1 Exclusive A P Purposes Across Fields  viii  136  Acknowledgments I would like to express my deep gratitude to a number of people, without whom I would not have been able to accomplish this project. First o f all, I feel blessed for having the chance to work with Dr. Patsy Duff, my dear supervisor. Her insightful comments and suggestions, her continuous academic as well as moral support—which she never failed to provide i n spite o f her really busy schedule—have helped me to keep my enthusiasm on this project high at all times. Thus, a sincere thank you goes to Patsy, whose outstanding qualities both as a scholar and as a human being I strongly admire. I want to thank D r . Bernie Mohan for being one o f the readers o f m y thesis (notwithstanding my defence interfered with his holidays!) It has always been a great pleasure to learn from his experience, and I appreciate his ability to provide spaces to construct knowledge with his students. Listening to Bernie with his great enthusiasm for new ideas, and working together with him, have always served as sources o f inspiration. To Dr. Monique Bournot-Trites I would like to thank not only for her participation as a committee member, with her interesting questions, suggestions and comments about my work, but also for trusting me and encouraging me to go always a step further in my teaching career. M e r c i , dear Monique! M y fellow classmates and friends at U B C have also been o f great support. I want to thank them for being there at all times. From them I learned about the spirit o f collaboration, and the result o f many discussions and exchange o f ideas have also left an imprint i n the pages o f this thesis.  IX  To our family friends, Lucas, Veronica, and Matias Salibian, I want to express my gratitude for their emotional support and their great patience, and for all those moments o f relaxation and fun we shared, which allowed me to renew my energy and enthusiasm to achieve m y academic goals. I also want to thank my teachers back in Argentina, who have helped me to discover m y passion for studying, researching, and teaching. A huge thank you goes to our family. M y dear parents, brother, and my husband's parents have absolutely always been by my side i n spite o f the large physical distance. Thank you mom, dad, Andres, Carmen and Esteban for all those e-mails and phone calls that have contributed to strengthen our family ties and deepen our love for each other. These are the kind o f "ingredients" one needs to survive! To my husband's sister, Veronica, I want to give special thanks for her company and help, and for being the best aunt our daughter Rocio could have! A n d m y last but foremost feeling o f gratitude—for which I cannot find enough w o r d s goes to my beloved husband, Jorge, and our precious daughter, Rocio. Thank you for being so extremely patient, understanding, and supportive. These pages are the result o f our family efforts and team work, no doubt, and therefore we need to celebrate together, like for any other project we embark on. A n d yes, Rocio, now we can spend long hours playing together, and arranging the crib for the upcoming arrival o f your new baby brother/sister!  x  To Jorge, Rocio, and our baby  XI  INTRODUCTION  1.1 Identification of the Problem In order to fully function within a specific community, there are certain rules, values, and behaviors that contribute to membership in this specific group. In other words, to participate as a competent member o f any given community and to be recognized as such, there is a need to be familiar with the pertinent community's culture. Becoming socialized into a specific community, however, is not merely a matter o f being aware o f these rules, values, and behavioral patterns; it also implies acting and responding according to the community's expectations. Hence, we can say that the process of becoming socialized into a specific culture is not a passive process, but rather a very active one which may even take a long time. This socialization process can be observed in all instances where human beings begin or continue to establish social contact. For instance, in the case o f graduate students studying in a new or "foreign" environment, achieving recognition as members of the academic community cannot be seen as a straightforward move. O n the contrary, it is a process that implies many challenges, decisions, and actions, all o f which graduate students face on a daily basis. Examining the body o f research on second language (L2) learning from the last decade, we realize that the number o f studies that situate L 2 learning within a sociocultural context is on a steady increase (e.g., Duff, 1995; Lantolf, 2000; M o h a n & Marshall-Smith,  1  1992; Morita, 2000; Poole, 1992; Willett 1995). Departing from the traditional focus primarily on the individual learning an L 2 , in more recent studies "many L 2 researchers have explored the rich sociocultural contexts of L 2 learning with the underlying assumption that language learning is not just an individual psychological process but is also a social process" (Morita, 2000, p. 279). Understanding the process o f learning a second language as a complex, interactive sociocultural process allows us to situate the "individual" acquiring the language within a larger context. This project has been inspired in great part by a call i n the existing literature for further examination on the L 2 learning processes where the acquisition o f a second language (in this case English) is situated in a sociocultural context from which it cannot be separated. The choice o f academic presentations (APs) as the oral task to explore in this study is based on many reasons. A m o n g them is the fact that A P s seem to be a pervasive task demanded o f graduate students across a variety o f disciplines. A s well, informal conver1  sations with peer graduate students and course instructors further revealed the need for a better understanding o f how the task is perceived and enacted. It has been widely and openly addressed in the literature (e.g., Duff, 1995; Ferris, 1998; Ferris & Tagg, 1996a,  This conclusion was reached after thoroughly researching on the Internet the different course requirements for graduate courses across disciplines at Western Canadian University (WCU) - a pseudonym. It was surprising to find out that a large percentage of these courses included as one assignment that of giving an academic presentation. Even before the start of this project, I designed and informally distributed a survey on APs among my peer graduate students (including both NSs and NNSs). This survey specifically asked participants to respond to questions (some were multiple choice items, while others were open-ended comment questions) about their experience giving and listening to APs. Out of the 22 surveys distributed, I received 19 completed surveys back. Both, NSs and NNSs, pointed to specific areas of APs that they felt challenging, and sometimes even frustrating. Especially for NNSs who were giving an A P for the first time in their lives, the fact that it was in English and that they were not yet fully acquainted with the Canadian education system, represented extra challenges that students had to face. The insightful responses of my peers who pointed to specific problematic issues (such as speaking in front of an audience, trying to engage the audience, avoiding oral reading, etc.) around APs served as a strong inspiration for my choice of topic.  2  2  1996b; Morita, 2000; Weissberg, 1993) that N N S s experience an extra challenge when faced with oral academic tasks. Hence, this study was also motivated by arguments in the literature on academic discourse and the socialization o f N N S s through language-mediated activities. Finally, my own personal experiences as a N N S graduate student trying to become a member o f a new academic community helped me determine the selection o f A P s as the focus o f research for this work.  1.2 Purpose of the Study In light o f the need for further research studies that focus on the sociocultural aspects o f language learning, the present work looks at how L 2 learners immersed in a new academic community become socialized through language into it. I examine this process through mainly one kind o f task (among many others graduate students are expected to perform throughout their course o f studies)—academic presentations—and how this activity is embedded within the linguistic socialization o f graduate students into the North American academic world more generally.  Although I was very familiar with oral presentations in my home country, as an incoming NNS graduate student in Canada I realized the different kinds of challenges my classmates and I had to cope with while preparing for and delivering our APs. In my case, I could see a considerable change between my first and second APs for the same graduate course. For the first A P I wrongly assumed that we (i.e., my co-team member and I) were expected to give a detailed presentation of the research article in question. For my second A P , after having reflected on my first experience, and after observing others do their APs, I chose a completely different approach: Instead of spending most of the time presenting content, I tried to summarize the main points discussed in the readings, and then involved the audience in a discussion. This strategy seemed to work much better than my first approach. As well, I noticed changes in the kind of language expressions I employed in both APs: while for the first one I feared including spontaneous talk, for I assumed it would be perceived as not very professional, I later realized that for that particular course context, a more interactional style and extemporaneous kind of talk were perceived as efficient. In sum, the more experience I gathered through observing and performing APs, the more I discovered the complex issues surrounding the task, and the more I wished to explore them closely. I realized that through a task such as APs I was learning how to become a professional in my own field, that of Language and Literacy Education. 3  Thus far, the studies that have more closely examined the role o f academic talk at the graduate level have concentrated mainly in a few areas or disciplines: A n i m a l Sciences and Agronomy (Weissberg, 1993), Applied Linguistics (Morita, 2000), and Speech Sciences (Tracy, 1997). Tracy's (1997) work, however, focussed more broadly on academic talk in the graduate seminar, where professors and graduate students' presentations were one o f several other aspects under study. Morita's (2000) work, on the other hand, had A P s given by graduate students as its main focus. The present study is hence more closely related to the kind o f work done by Morita. Other studies (e.g., Ferris, 1998; Ferris & Tagg, 1996a, 1996b) have focused on aural/oral tasks, where A P s were not the main kind o f activity explored, but rather one kind o f task undergraduate and graduate students are required to perform. ( A more comprehensive review o f the literature on the topic can be found in Chapter 2 o f this thesis.) Building up on the existing knowledge on the subject, and with the aim of expanding and further gaining insights into the socialization o f graduate students into the academic world through discourse, the present study focused on A P s given by graduate students across a variety o f disciplines at a large western Canadian university, referred hereafter by the pseudonym o f W C U . This research thus involved graduate students i n seven different graduate courses in three different faculties: Faculty o f Medicine ( F M ) , Faculty o f Arts (FA), and Faculty o f Applied Science ( F A S ) (see Figure 1.1).  4  Hence, the present study attempts to address a gap i n the existing literature on the topic of A P s at the graduate level by examining this task across a variety o f disciplines thus far not explored.  Figure 1.1 Faculty Clusters and Courses  The present work is framed as a qualitative study that views the A P as a task through which all o f the participants involved construct knowledge about both the language employed to perform/perceive the presentations, and about cultural aspects (i.e., values, beliefs, rules) involved in this task. The theoretical perspective that frames this study is that of language socialization, which "draws on sociological, anthropological, and psychological approaches to the study o f social and linguistic competence within a social group" (Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986, p. 163). Based on these assumptions, according to the same 5  authors, language socialization starts "at the moment o f social contact in the life of a human being" (p. 164), and extends throughout life. Grounded on these assumptions, the present study takes a view o f language learning and cultural learning as interrelated and interdependent.  1.3 Questions Guiding the Research The research questions that guided the present study are the following: 1) H o w are A P s organized, performed, and perceived by instructors, presenters, and classmates? What are the characteristic discourse features and expectations associated with A P s within and across fields? 2) What purposes do A P s fulfil within the graduate school context? What role do they play i n the language socialization o f graduate students, particularly o f N N S s o f English? 3) A r e there any specific difficulties or challenges that N N S s o f English have during the preparation and delivery o f their A P s ? If so, how do N N S s cope with these difficulties? H o w are these difficulties perceived across fields? In order to address these questions, this study examined A P s given by both native speakers o f English (NSs) and non-native speakers o f this language ( N N S s ) . A stronger 4  emphasis is placed on the experiences and perceptions o f N N S s , and how these are perceived and responded to by N S peers and the course instructors. In some cases, compari-  "Native" speakers refers to those individuals who speak English as their mother tongue; "non-native" speakers, on the other hand, refers to speakers of English as an additional language.  6  sons between the academic presentations performed by both groups (NSs and N N S s ) are included, as well as comparisons o f the task across fields. The data collected includes field notes and observations o f A P s performed by N S s and N N S s ; open-ended audio-recorded interviews with participants (i.e., graduate students and course instructors); and collection o f some written documents (e.g., handouts prepared by presenters, course outlines). The multiplicity o f sources o f information was sought and secured to complement my own observations and analyses as much as possible.  1.4 Significance of the Study It is hoped that the present study w i l l shed more light on the language socialization processes o f graduate students into the academic community. The participants involved in this study are all graduate students enrolled at W C U , which has among its student population both national and international graduates. Given that the number o f foreign students who speak English as an additional language has been on a steady increase—not only in Canada, but also i n other countries o f North America (namely, the United States)—(see Zimmermann, 1995), there is an urgent need to further examine the issues that surround the integration o f these students into the academic world. This study becomes meaningful in that it attempts to address the socialization experiences of N N S s through discourse practices in the macro-context o f W C U . Though generalizations to other populations or communities is not intended or advisable, it is believed that useful insights w i l l be gained to enrich our knowledge o f how A P s are perceived and enacted by graduate students and their instructors. It is hoped that this knowledge w i l l ulti-  7  mately become useful to the entire educational community. It w i l l serve instructors planning to incorporate A P s as a required task for a graduate course, to inform them and increase their awareness of the issues underlying the task (i.e., it is hoped that this work w i l l become a useful source o f information about the kind o f struggles and concerns graduate students go through while preparing for and delivering A P s , about the kind o f aid they could potentially receive from their peers and instructors, and the kind o f expectations the audience can reasonably have of them). Given that the most affected population o f individuals is the student body in this case, it is my wish that this work w i l l be just as beneficial for students as for instructors: It w i l l raise awareness of certain issues, and it w i l l also serve —especially for NNSs—as a guide o f some o f the values promoted in graduate school, and some o f the expectations associated with A P s . Students participating i n this project have had a chance already to reflect on their A P theories and practices; students who w i l l have access to reading this work w i l l hopefully be inspired to do so as well. In addition, this study contributes to a growing body o f L 2 learning research literature which departs from the language acquisition perspective that draws on psycholinguistics, by focusing on sociocultural aspects o f language learning (Lantolf, 2000) employing the theoretical framework o f language socialization. Few studies have employed this framework to research issues surrounding adult language socialization, particularly with second language learners (e.g., Duff, Wong, & Early, 2000; Mohan & Marshall-Smith, 1992; Morita, 2000; Niiyama, 1997; Poole 1992). The present research project intends to address this existing gap in the literature.  8  1.5 Thesis Organization The present work is structured around seven different chapters. Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the thesis, highlighting the rationale for the selection o f research focus, including the research questions guiding the study, identifying the problem and its significance, as well as outlining some o f the main issues to be discussed i n the remainder o f the thesis. Chapter 2 makes reference to the theoretical framework o f this study and provides a brief review o f the relevant literature. The concepts o f language socialization, socioculturally organized activities, task context, and communities o f practice are explained, as is their relationship to this project. A selection o f studies that have focused on the language socialization o f E S L learners is included, as well as a selection o f studies that have explored issues surrounding the acquisition and performance o f academic literacy and oral skills by N N S s o f English. Chapter 3 presents a description o f the qualitative approach employed, and the corresponding data collection methods. The latter include audio-taped open-ended interviews with N N S s , N S s , and course instructors; audio-taped student presentations and discussions; researcher observations o f A P s and fieldnotes o f these observations; and collection o f relevant written documents (such as course outlines, peer evaluation sheets, and student-prepared outlines for their respective APs). The research sites and participants are described (employing pseudonyms for the protection o f individuals), transcription conventions and procedures are specified, and data analysis techniques are introduced.  9  In Chapters 4, 5, and 6,1 provide a detailed description o f A P s i n each o f the three faculty clusters ( F M , F A , and F A S ) . A P s are situated and analyzed in each classroom context, and the task is explored as a language-mediated activity through which N N S s acquire both linguistic and cultural knowledge. Chapter 7 centers on a discussion of the research findings and implications. A P s are examined across fields, noting similarities and discrepancies. A s well, the role A P s play in the students' process o f gaining access to their new academic communities o f practice is addressed. Limitations o f the study and also suggestions for further research are included in this chapter. I conclude the chapter and the thesis with a brief summary o f the study and my personal thoughts on the research process.  10  REVIEW OF LITERATURE  2.1 Language Socialization, Socioculturally Organized Activities, Task Context, and Communities of Practice The present study embraces the theoretical concept o f language socialization (Ochs, 1988; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986) in order to explore a socioculturally organized (Ochs, 1988), language-mediated task such as A P s . Drawing on sociological, anthropological, and psychological approaches to the study o f social and linguistic competence within a given social group, language socialization refers to the socialization o f individuals "through the use o f language and socialization to use language" (Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986, p. 163). According to this perspective, language socialization is a lifelong, interactive process that begins at the moment a human being starts social contact. The concept o f task or speech event is also crucial in the language socialization approach, which defines a task as a sociocultural activity. From a language socialization perspective, the unit o f analysis is the activity in which members o f a social group take part. Ochs (1988) contends that as children participate in activities they acquire both linguistic and sociocultural knowledge. In this view, linguistic knowledge and sociocultural knowledge are interrelated and impact each other. Further exploring the notion o f task (or activity) i n language socialization, Mohan and Marshall-Smith (1992) challenge the input/interaction view o f S L A research (e.g.,  11  Long & Porter; Pica & Doughty 1985; Gass & Varonis, 1985) where task and context are assumed as given, and contend that " i n the language socialisation view, task and context are under development" (p. 88). Hence, they argue that neither the task nor the context are to be considered as fixed. Rather, they are negotiated or co-constructed through interaction. Recently research in academic literacy has emphasized the idea o f discourse community (e.g., Casanave, 1995; Flowerdew, 2000; Swales, 1990) and the apprenticeship processes that novice scholars go through when gaining access to their respective communities. According to Swales (1990), a discourse community can be defined as a group o f people who share a set o f social conventions that are directed towards some purpose (as cited in Flowerdew, 2000). This group o f human beings share common specific sets o f language, beliefs, and practices. Research on graduate students' academic writing development, for example Casanave (1995), shows that "access to and acceptance by the\ disciplinary community are thus dependent upon the learning o f the beliefs, values, and conventions that characterize that community" (Flowerdew, 2000, p. 130). However, these discourse communities are not fixed and homogeneous entities, but rather are dynamic and changeable in nature. Similarly, research on oral academic discourse (e.g., Morita, 2000) reveals that the same applies to the apprenticeship processes o f graduate students trying to become members o f their academic milieu. Applying the notion o f discourse community to the present study, we need first to identify the macro-context as well as the micro-context o f this research study. While the macro-context or "academic world" is W C U as a whole, without making specific distinctions among disciplines and specific courses, each o f the graduate courses explored could be considered as a smaller, micro-context for language socialization. In turn, each individ12  ual micro-context can be identified by its unique characteristics: e.g., by the human component, by the disciplinary terminology and content itself, and by external factors such as historic time and physical aspects, among others. Taking this stance, and viewing the graduate courses at W C U as part o f a unique, identifiable discourse community, allows us to focus on the human component and related issues o f each small community instead o f taking into account merely the disciplinary content and demands o f each course.  A P as socioculturally organized activity  Task (AP) as social practice  APs in Medicine  A P s in Arts  APs in Applied Science  \[  *.  Language socialization: language as tool ^ and goal  V  j )  Communities of practice at WCU  Figure 2.1 Theoretical Framework and Contextualization  13  In sum, the concept o f discourse communities—or what Lave and Wenger (1991) and Wenger (1998) call communities of practice-serves  as a framework and acknowledges  the complex nature o f the process o f gaining membership into the larger academic community. The four concepts just briefly outlined (see Figure 2.1) are useful theoretical tools for analysis in this study.  2.1.1 Language Socialization and L2 Research Several studies have been conducted to explore the primary language socialization of children (e.g., Heath, 1982; Ochs, 1988; Watson-Gegeo & Gegeo, 1986). These studies pointed to the interrelationship between the acquisition o f linguistic and sociocultural knowledge while children participated in various activities. Based on the argument that people experience language socialization not only through their primary socialization in their childhood, but also throughout their lives as they are immersed i n a new sociocultural context, in the past years the language socialization perspective has also influenced the field of L 2 research. Investigating L 2 learning processes from a language socialization perspective that incorporates rich contextual information provides more ecologically valid information than studies that have focussed on individuals exclusively (thus paying limited attention to the social context). What follows is a review o f a selection o f works that have investigated the language socialization o f L 2 learners in contexts such as school, work, or new living environments. A m o n g these works, Willett's (1995) study and D u f f s (1995,1996) study involved children and high school E S L learners, respectively. Willett's (1995) study involved three E S L girls and one E S L boy i n a first grade in an English-medium classroom. Through  14  observing and analyzing the classroom participation o f these four E S L learners in a yearlong study, Willett described how—through socially significant interactional routines~"the children and other members o f the classroom jointly constructed the E S L children's identities, social relations, and ideologies as well as their communicative competence in that setting" (p. 473). According to Willett, these children needed to acquire English language and literacy skills in order to gain access to their new classroom community. A t the same time, she pointed to the complex nature o f classroom and community cultures, claiming that "becoming a competent member requires navigating the competing agendas o f its subcultures" (p. 499). She also pointed to the local nature o f the interactional routines and strategies, and how these vary across sociocultural groups. In a year-long ethnographic study, Duff (1995, 1996) explored the language socialization o f English learners at a secondary school in Hungary. She investigated the connections between macro- and micro-level changes in Hungary through an examination o f transformations in educational discourse. The context o f her study was that o f history lessons, and the unit o f analysis that of two speech events: feleles (oral recitations), which constituted a traditional very demanding oral task in Hungary; and student lectures or oral presentations (or other open-ended oral activities), which were replacing feleles in certain classrooms. D u f f showed how "[a] historically and culturally rooted phenomenon and vehicle for Hungarian language socialization, it [feleles] is an activity that has been affected by systemic changes and has, in turn, affected evolving educational discourse" (Duff, 1995, p. 517). Consequently, the micro-level changes of educational and classroom discourse could be conceived as manifestations o f the macro-level changes that were taking place in broader sociocultural contexts.  15  A number o f researchers, including Niiyama (1997), Poole (1992), Mohan and Marshall-Smith (1992), Nishizawa (1997), and Morita (2000) have focused on college or university level settings, and I w i l l summarize these studies below. In a language socialization study that involved six N N S s and an E S L instructor in a college-level E S L classroom, Niiyama (1997) explored the ways Japanese students taking a Public Speaking and Debating Class developed their oral English skills. B y focusing on the individual oral presentation task, Niiyama examined the kinds o f language and rhetorical features developed by the students in this class, and the processes by which these students were socialized into this specific context. A m o n g the findings o f her study, Niiyama described five language and rhetorical features (hook or introduction, organizational principles o f a presentation, transitional devices, sentence patterns, and opinions and arguments) that were introduced in the class so that students obtained the necessary skills to perform a successful oral presentation. It was through the instructors's explicit teaching, through interaction between students and the instructor, and through feedback that these language and rhetorical features became meaningful and thus useful to the students. In her study, Poole (1992) analyzed teacher/student interaction in two beginning E S L classes. Following a qualitative research design, Poole's study involved eight E S L students enrolled in a beginning level E S L course at a large private American university, and the teachers who taught the classes. Two o f the class periods, marked by a high degree o f student verbal participation, were selected to conduct the analysis. Poole focused on three classroom discourse features: (a) expert accommodation o f novice incompetence; (b) task accomplishment; and (c) display o f asymmetry. Her study revealed that some of the routine interactional sequences (i.e., social messages) in these classrooms were very similar to 16  those found in other studies (cf. Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984) examining middle class American caregiver language. Poole suggested that "second language contexts include dimensions that powerfully and necessarily affect both the teaching and the learning processes" (p. 610), and highlighted the fact that this was not generally acknowledged in most L 2 literature. In a study that involved a group o f Chinese students i n a graduate school setting, Mohan and Marshall-Smith (1992) investigated the language socialization of these English language learners who succeeded in spite of their limited language proficiency. The authors focused on how the interaction surrounding a task developed the learner's contextual understanding of the task, thus arguing that "the context is socially constructed by the cooperative work o f expert and novice, and the context both illuminates and is illuminated by communication within the task" (p. 88). Mohan and Marshall-Smith also contended that "while the learner's participation in the cultural activity is a central means o f socialisation, it is not the only means; observation may be important, as may comment, discussion and explanation" (p. 88). Nishizawa (1997) explored the role o f sociocultural context in college students' socialization into the classroom culture o f a Canadian community college. Her research project involved 66 students (42 N S s and 24 N N S s o f English) taking a literature course, where nine o f the 24 N N S s were also taking an E S L adjunct class. Thus, Nishizawa explored the role o f the E S L course adjuncted to the literature class in promoting the linguistic and cultural socialization o f N N S s . Through an analysis o f tasks observed and performed by students, the study examined the social, cultural, and academic values and norms  17  (e.g, individualism, collaboration, gender equality, etc.) promoted in the class, and how the students in the class perceived these values and norms, and created the classroom culture. Morita (2000) explored the language socialization o f N N S s studying at a large western Canadian university. Her study i n two different graduate level T E S L  5  classrooms  involved two instructors and 21 students, six of whom were N N S s ; the unit o f analysis was oral academic presentations (OAPs). Morita's findings suggested that students became gradually socialized into the academic discourse through observing, performing, and reviewing a task such as O A P s , and based on these findings Morita argued that "academic discourse socialization should be viewed as a potentially complex and conflictual process of negotiation rather than as a predictable, unidirectional process o f enculturation" (p. 279). Finally, two studies that have examined the linguistic socialization o f immigrant adults (especially women), include Duff, Wong, and Early (2000) and L i (2000). D u f f et al. (2000) investigated the language socialization o f E S L speakers into the workforce and the broader community. The authors conducted a qualitative study through which they examined the linguistic and social processes involved in the education and integration o f 20 immigrant E S L speakers seeking a healthcare career i n Canada. The study focused on these 20 students' participation in two work-oriented programs that combined E S L skills and nursing skills, and that were sponsored by an immigrant services agency in western Canada. According to the researchers, the most interesting and unexpected findings include the range and complexity o f communication skills required o f the study participants; the need to speak a language other than English or their first language; the need to use and interpret body language to master both technical academic discourse (oral and written) and collo-  5  Acronym for Teaching English as a Second Language 18  quial interpersonal skills; the opportunity to ask for and receive assistance with English from the residents; the need to engage and respond empathetically to their interlocutors; and the need to assess and meet their communication and other (physical, emotional) requirements, (pp. 48-49)  A s one o f the concluding remarks, the study called for an urgent understanding o f the difficult, complex, changing language needs i n the multilingual and multicultural workplace. Another study that attempted to fill a gap in the secondary language socialization in the workplace is the work of L i (2000). This author examined the language socialization of an immigrant woman i n the U . S . trying to learn how to frame requests i n English (her L 2 ) in an appropriate way. The case study of this woman showed that making a request in a second language is not merely a linguistic process but also a social one. This in turn points to the double process o f socialization, where novices in the new working environment are novices i n both the new language and the new culture. While some o f the studies reviewed above focused on young E S L learners in school settings, others focused on adult E S L learners in college or university settings or in the workplace. What all these studies have in common is the fact that a language socialization perspective and a range o f qualitative research methods proved useful to investigate how E S L learners acquired both linguistic and cultural knowledge when immersed in a new and carefully described setting. Table 2.1 provides a summary o f the language socialization studies reviewed i n this chapter:  19  Table 2.1 Language Socialization and L 2 Research Study  Focus  Participants and Sites  Method  Willett (1995)  The role of interactional routines between children and other classroom members in jointly constructing the E S L children's identities, social relations, ideologies, and communicative competence  Three E S L girls and one E S L boy; first grade in a mainstream firstgrade classroom at an elementary school  ethnography  Duff(1995, 1996)  Dynamic relationships between classroom tasks, educational discourse, and sociopolitical and cultural contexts through an analysis of feleles and other types of oral tasks  Hungarian high school students taking history lessons at secondary schools with immersion programs  ethnography  Niiyama (1997)  Development of oral English skills of E S L students through an examination of language and rhetorical features surrounding oral presentations  Six Japanese students and an E S L course instructor in a Public Speaking and Debating class in a Canadian ESL institute  ethnographic approach  Poole (1992)  A n analysis of teacher-student interactions to reveal the cultural dimensions included in E S L classroom contexts  Eight E S L students taking lessons in a beginning level E S L class at a large American university  ethnographic techniques  Mohan & MarshallSmith (1992)  Language socialization of ESL learners; task context as co-constructed  Eight E S L Chinese students in graduate adult education course at a Western Canadian university  ethnographic approach  Nishizawa (1997)  The role of sociocultural context in college students' socialization into the academic classroom culture  66 college students (42 NSs and 24 NNSs) in a literature course, and nine NNSs taking its adjunct E S L course in a Canadian college  ethnographic approach  Morita (2000)  Role of academic presentations in the language socialization (LS) of graduate students into the academic world  21 graduate students (six NNSs and 15 NSs) in two T E S L graduate courses in a Canadian university  ethnography  Duff, Wong, and Early (2000)  Linguistic and social processes at work in the education and integration of immigrant E S L speakers into the workforce and the broader community  Two groups of E S L students (n=20); two language and skills instructors; a clinical practicum supervisor; a project manager; and the training institute director at a Canadian government-funded institution  qualitative approach  L i (2000)  The role of exposure and participation in social interactions, and assistance of experts or more competent peers in the L S of an immigrant woman in the U.S. learning how to frame requests in English  A Chinese woman in an inner-city immigrant job-training program operated by a Chinese American association, and workplaces in a metropolitan city in Northeastern United States  case study  20  2.2 Research on Academic Discourse . A P s , the unit o f analysis for this work, are one type o f oral academic discourse (in this work understood as "speech"). Given their relevance to m y study, in this section I w i l l briefly review a selection o f works that have focused on academic discourse in either reading, writing, listening, or speaking tasks.  2.2.1 L2 Studies on Academic Reading and Writing Tasks In response to the growing number o f international students i n North American schools and colleges, several researchers have focused on the development o f L 2 literacy skills in N N S s . A m o n g these researchers are Atkinson and Ramanathan (1995), Casanave (1995), Prior (1995), L e k i (1995), L e k i and Carson (1997), and Spack (1997). I w i l l briefly summarize their studies below. Atkinson and Ramanathan (1995) employed an ethnographic approach to explore how N N S writers at a large U . S . university on completion o f their writing classes at an English Language Program (ELP) offered by the University's E S L institute, were required to register directly in the mainstream University Composition Program (UCP). Findings o f the study suggested that the N N S writers were affected by the differing conceptions o f academic writing promoted by both programs ( E L P and U C P ) . The kinds o f knowledge expected from students taking the U C P "include considerable familiarity with native patterns for structuring discourse, knowledge of native norms of communicative behavior, and some understanding o f writing (...) as a heuristic, self-defining activity" (p. 563). Hence, the authors argued that since these cultural assumptions may not be reasonably met by N N S  21  writers, explicit instruction i n relevant cultural norms and assumptions might contribute to partially solving the problem. Casanave (1995) carried out her research project focusing on 12 N N S s enrolled in a doctoral program in sociology at a U . S . university. The author investigated the reason why these students did not seem to be socialized into disciplinary communities in homogeneous ways, arguing that a view o f context for composing as eminently local, interactive, and historical helps to understand how students learn to write i n particular academic settings. The author contends that [b]y looking at how individual students construct different contexts for composing from the same writing assignments, we can better understand the diverse responses of a multicultural, multilinguistic graduate student population to the socialization experience, (p. 86)  A l o n g the same lines, Prior (1995) explored E A P needs analysis for academic writing tasks. H e involved five professors in four different disciplines, and a total of 64 students (17. o f whom were N N S s ) . Prior realized that the task the professor assigned was not the same as the task the students understood (i.e., there were multiple task interpretations). A s well, he realized that students' representations o f the assigned writing tasks drew on many sources other than the professor's statements o f those tasks: Students made inferences based on their prior school experience, the models offered in the assigned readings, and their perceptions o f the professor's personality and intellectual biases. A s a central argument, Prior maintains that tasks are completely shaped by the multiple histories, activities, and goals that participants bring to and create within seminars. L e k i (1995), and L e k i and Carson (1997) explored the reading and writing skills expected o f students in North American university classrooms. In her 1995 study, Leki 22  examined the academic literacy experiences o f five E S L students i n light o f the strategies they brought with them to their new academic experience in the U . S . , and the strategies they developed in order to cope with the demands o f the new academic setting. L e k i identified a number of these strategies: (a) clarifying strategies; (b) focusing strategies; (c) relying on past writing experiences; (d) taking advantage o f first language/culture; (e) using current experience or feedback; (f) resisting teachers' demands; and a few others. Besides highlighting the interesting fact that students come to their U . S . studies with a whole range o f strategies, and that they pursue new ones when the ones they already have are not useful to successfully meet the course writing expectations, L e k i suggests that E A P courses should consider discussing these strategies with students, recognizing (and helping students to recognize) what they already know, and avoiding teaching what they already do know. In another study that focused on academic writing demands, L e k i and Carson (1997) compared the kind of knowledge students are expected to demonstrate in E A P classes with that o f academic writing classes. Their study was based primarily on interview data from 27 participants i n phase 1, and 21 participants i n phase 2, all o f w h o m were either undergraduate or graduate N N S s at a large U . S . university. The interviews inquired about students' perceptions and experiences writing for both English for academic purposes ( E A P ) courses and academic content classes across the curriculum. Findings from this study suggested that "what is valued in writing for writing classes is different from what is valued in writing for other academic courses" (p. 64). E A P classes seemed to limit students to writing without source texts or without taking responsibility for the content o f what they wrote. This in turn is in contrast with the kind o f academic writing expected from students in classes across the curriculum. The implications for E A P courses involve examining stu-  23  dents' writing needs and providing students with opportunities for doing the kind of writing demanded in academic courses. In a longitudinal case study involving one N N S female student, Spack (1997) examined the reading and writing strategies employed and developed by this student in order to acquire college-level academic literacy skills. The aim of the study was to shed light on the acquisition o f academic literacy o f one student over an extended period o f time, filling a gap in the literature which generally focuses on short time periods (e.g., one semester). Thus, Spack followed her participant over a three-year period, and explored the role of the students' first language (Japanese) in promoting academic literacy in her second language (English). A s part o f her conclusion to the study, Spack mentioned that when instructors direct students to explain ideas with explicitness and precision, for example, rather than to communicate through subtle implication (as Y u k o put it)— we are asking them to embrace a certain stance toward knowledge that is not shared universally, (p. 48)  Hence, the author suggested that educators should reflect on their own role and responsibility in demanding students to complete writing tasks for which they have not been prepared, especially when the students have not spent a lifetime immersed in a western English-medium academic system. The selection o f studies reviewed in this section have all focused on the acquisition of L 2 academic literacy skills, thus addressing the need to gain more insights into the complex processes students go through when attempting to function in an academic context in which they have not been raised.  24  2.2.2 L2 Studies on Oral Academic Tasks Although less explored so far, some researchers have also focused on the oral discourse needs o f N N S s when functioning in an English-speaking academic setting (cf. Johns, 1981; Mason, 1995; and Ostler, 1980, as cited in Ferris and Tagg, 1996a). In this section I w i l l review the research studies on the acquisition o f oral academic skills by Ferris (1998), Ferris and Tagg (1996a, 1996b), Y o o k and Seller (1990), Weissberg (1993), and Tracy (1997). In response to the relative lack o f research on speaking and listening tasks required by instructors i n academic contexts, Ferris and Tagg (1996a, 1996b), and Ferris (1998) conducted a series o f surveys examining four distinct types o f tertiary institutions (a community college, a public teaching-oriented university, a public research-oriented university, and a private university) and a variety o f disciplines and class types. In their 1996a/1996b study, Ferris and Tagg surveyed over 900 professors, and the results showed that (a) instructors' requirements varied across disciplines, type o f institution, and class size; (b) instructors' lecturing formats followed a tendency to becoming less formal and more interactive over time; (c) this tendency placed new expectations upon students. Implications for E A P courses drawn from this survey pointed to the need to prepare E A P students for comprehension and participation in a variety of lecture/discussion formats, suggesting that E A P instructors strive for authenticity in the kinds o f tasks they ask their students to perform (e.g., listening to real lectures by a variety o f speakers, interact with native speakers, and cope with genre-specific vocabulary, reading materials and writing tasks). While Ferris and Tagg's (1996a, 1996b) surveys provided insights into the views o f instructors at four different tertiary institutions, Ferris' (1998) study shed light on the views 25  of students at three different tertiary institutions. In this latter study, Ferris adapted the survey previously distributed to instructors in order to find out the students' views on their instructors' requirements regarding listening and speaking skills. A s well, the survey explored the difficulties these students had in meeting those requirements, and the relative importance assigned to a selection o f seven academic aural/oral tasks. A comparison o f the two studies (1996a /1996b and 1998), indicated that "athough E S L students may have a clear idea o f what their problems are (...) they may not have an especially accurate sense o f the relative importance o f those problems" (p. 313). In addition, while instructors seemed to blame students' struggles on cultural differences and language deficiencies, and by extension they also blamed E S L classes and teachers, students rarely acknowledged any responsibility for their own listening/speaking difficulties, instead choosing to complain about the inadequacies o f their instructors. Even though the survey data lacked any kind o f detailed information, it revealed some o f the contradictions between the views held by academic content area instructors and those held by E S L students. Also researching the oral needs o f N N S s , Y o o k and Seller (1990) investigated a group o f 21 Asian students enrolled in a speech communication course at a large midwestern U . S . university, where students were required to give oral speeches. The study employed qualitative techniques such as participant observation, a questionnaire survey, and focus group interviews. The responses o f students revealed that for the most part, students were anxious about their speeches, and this anxiety seemed to be the result o f three factors: (a) students were concerned about whether or not their audience would understand them due to their pronunciation difficulties; (b) students were also worried in case they were not able to "think in English" while doing their speech, and thus might fail to find the  26  appropriate words to express themselves; and (c) students became very anxious due to their lack o f previous exposure to the oral speech genre, and sometimes it even meant they did not understand the assignment fully. Having illuminated some o f the struggles (both linguistic and cultural) that these Asian students faced i n the public speaking course, the author called for further research in the area, and highlighted the importance o f raising awareness o f these issues among both instructors and students. In an investigation o f the graduate seminar as a speech genre, Weissberg (1993) employed a qualitative design to analyze in detail the structure o f the seminar presentation, and to explore the specific demands it poses for the N N S graduate student. In addition, Weissberg examined the crucial register difference between the seminar presentation and the research article. Besides providing detailed information on how the seminar presentation is organized in graduate courses in the departments o f animal science and agronomy, the study revealed differences in the choice o f speech styles chosen by both N S s and N N S s . In general, N N S s failed to cover the expectations o f their instructors through misinterpreting the way i n which the presentation should be organized and delivered. T w o factors working against N N S s were identified: (a) lack o f linguistic knowledge; and (b) differing notions as to what constitutes acceptable academic speech. A m o n g the implications for pedagogy derived form the study, Weissberg contended that it is wise to evaluate the kind of E S P preparation, i f any, that N N S students received for the graduate seminar and formal academic speech events in general. (...) [I]t is not reasonable to expect that all, or even many, students simply "pick up" the associated oral genre on their own. Non-native speakers who are uncomfortable with their oral skills i n English may be specially inclined to memorize a written text for their presentations, (p. 33)  27  Finally, among the more recent studies that have explored academic oral discourse (though not focusing on N N S s ) is the study by Tracy (1997). Tracy's central purpose was to understand better the institutionally significant activity o f the departmental colloquium, typically found i n many North American universities. In her qualitative study, Tracy combined data mainly from tape-recorded colloquia and interviews with colloquium participants (i.e., faculty and graduate students) with the aim o f describing "the web o f problems academic groups face, the discursive practices used, and the ideals academics have about how they should talk" (p. 4). The main claim developed in her work is that "the academic colloquium is best conceived as a dilemmatic situation—a communicative occasion involving tensions and contradiction. This claim has three layers o f meaning" (p. 4). Tracy analyzed in detail each layer o f meaning associated with the academic colloquium, and provided suggestions in the form of three proposals: (a) academic groups should give ongoing attention to maintaining a strong sense o f intellectual community within the groups; (b) academic participants should pursue a dilemmatic ideal, recognizing that discussion must be thought o f as both dialectic and constructive criticism; and (c) academics should talk about colloquia in ways that recognize the positioned nature o f the problem analyses, and they should use language practices that keep the "dilemmatic" character o f colloquia visible. The dilemmatic frame employed by Tracy in order to examine the academic colloquium is one o f her work's main contributions to research. (See Table 2.2 for a summary of the studies on academic discourse reviewed in these sections.)  28  Table 2.2 Academic Discourse and L 2 Research Participants and Sites  Method  Study  Focus  Atkinson & Ramanathan (1995)  The disjunctive that L2 writers experience when crossing over from an E S L program to a mainstream composition program  N N S graduate students and their instructors at a American University's E S L institute and at the university's composition program  ethnographic approach  Casanave (1995)  Exploration of the local, historical, and interactive notion of the contexts for composing  Twelve NNSs and their course instructors in a doctoral program in sociology at an U.S. university  qualitative approach  Prior (1995)  E A P needs analysis for academic Sixty-four graduate students (17 writing; an examination of writing NNSs) and five professors in four tasks as complexly shaped by multidisciplines at a U.S. university ple histories, activities, and goals  Leki (1995)  Academic writing strategies employed by E S L students  Five E S L visa students in their first semester of study at a U.S. university  qualitative approach  Leki& Carson (1997)  The contrasting writing demands and preparation of E S L students in E A P writing courses and in academic courses  Forty-eight N N S undergraduate/ graduate students at a large U.S. university  qualitative approach  Spack (1997)  Examination of the reading and writOne N N S (Japanese) student at a ing strategies of a NNS student trying to acquire college-level large U.S. university academic literacy in English  case study  Ferris (1998)  E S L students' views of aural/oral skills needed for academic purposes  768 E S L students at three tertiary institutions in the U.S.  survey  Ferris & Tagg (1996a, 1996b)  Expectations of U.S. college/university instructors with regard to aural/ oral tasks  Over 900 content-area instructors at four different U.S. tertiary institutions in various academic disciplines  survey  Yook& Seller (1990)  Investigation of the needs and concerns of Asian students in speech communication performance classes  Twenty one Asian students in a speech communication course at a large midwestern U.S. university  qualitative approach  Weissberg (1993)  Exploration of the graduate seminar as a speech event and its specific task demands on NNSs  Ten NNSs presenting in graduate seminars in the departments of animal science and agronomy  qualitative approach  Tracy (1997)  In depth exploration of the activity of departmental colloquium as a dilemmatic situation  Faculty and graduate students in the communication department at a large U.S. university  qualitative approach  ethnographic techniques  Other studies that I have already briefly reviewed in an earlier section in this chapter have also focused on oral academic talk: Duff (1995, 1996), Morita (2000), and Niiyama  29  (1997). A l l o f these studies also highlighted the need to further investigate issues surrounding oral academic discourse. Accordingly, the present study attempts to fill a gap in the literature by exploring the perception and performance o f academic presentations by N N S s taking graduate courses at a large western Canadian university. Although previous studies have investigated oral academic discourse such as oral presentations, the graduate seminar, and speeches across different institutions and levels, and including a variety o f N N S language and culture backgrounds, the novelty o f the present study resides i n the investigation of academic presentations across different fields or disciplines.  30  METHODOLOGY  3.1 A Qualitative Approach In order to address the research questions that guided this study I employed a qualitative approach, including some ethnographic techniques. This approach involves direct contact between the researcher and those participating in the study: "People everywhere learn their culture by observing other people, listening to them, and then making inferences. The ethnographer employs this same process o f going beyond what is seen and heard to infer what people k n o w " (Spradley, 1979, p. 8, emphasis in the original). I assumed that in order to comprehend A P s from a holistic perspective (Watson-Gegeo, 1988), the best way I could do it was by getting as close as possible to the participants in the A P situations. A m o n g the researchers that have chosen language socialization as the theoretical framework for their studies, most have used qualitative approaches (e.g., Duff, 1995; Mohan & Marshall Smith, 1992; Morita, 2000; Ochs, 1988; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986; W i l lett, 1995). This is because o f the ethnographic focus on rich descriptions o f sustained and situated cultural practices in most language socialization work. Qualitative approaches have been adopted lately by many L 2 researchers, rather than (or i n conjunction with) traditional quantitative approaches to research because qualitative research places greater emphasis on contexts and interpretations o f social practice (e.g., Davis, 1995; Johnson, 1992).  31  Ethnography is one o f the qualitative methodologies currently most popular among qualitative L 2 researchers (Crago, 1992). This study cannot be defined as truly ethnographic (due to its short duration, and the reduced amount o f data gathered from each participant and context); however, I did employ some ethnographic techniques. In qualitative approaches, researchers are encouraged to seek a variety o f information in order to be able to perform a triangulation o f data. According to M i l l e r (1997), "[t]riangulation assumes that looking at an object from more than one standpoint provides researchers and theorists with more comprehensive knowledge about the object" (p. 25), thus helping to ensure research credibility. Accordingly, I went to the field and observed and tape-recorded participants in the act o f presenting, while I also observed the human and physical context in which the A P s took place. In addition, I interviewed participants to gain a broader understanding o f the task by accessing the participants' perspectives on what had occurred. A l l this took place within a period o f four months (i.e., over the duration o f one academic term in which students were taking their courses).  3.2 Participants and Context of Exploration This study took place at a large western Canadian university with a high enrollment of international graduate students. A s well, this university offers 94 Masters programs, and 6  71 Ph.D. programs across a great variety o f disciplines. The popularity o f this institution, 7  plus the broad spectrum o f fields o f study available serve as an attraction to not only national students, but also to a large body of international students who leave their countries  Just as a reference, according to the statistics on international students information provided to me by International House at W C U , in Winter term 2000 -2001 (the period during which data for this study were gathered) there were 309 new international students registered in graduate programs at W C U . 6  1  This information can be retrieved from W C U ' s Faculty of Graduate Studies home page.  32  to come to Canada and pursue their graduate studies at W C U . O f particular interest is the fact that international students come from countries all over the world, implying a large sociocultural and linguistic diversity. Hence, this proved to be an ideal setting to carry out a language socialization project. Participants (graduate students and instructors) were selected according to the following pre-established criteria: (a) the courses should be at the graduate level, offered at W C U ; (b) A P s should be one o f the tasks students would have to perform some time during the course; (c) there should be at least one N N S in the course; (d) course instructors should feel comfortable with the idea o f providing me access to their classes; (e) a majority o f the students in the class should be willing to give me access to the class. I ensured that nobody would feel uncomfortable with my presence in the classroom, or with m y use o f a recorder to audio-tape the A P s (whenever I was given permission to do so by both the student in question and the course instructor). After preparing a preliminary list containing ten courses that could potentially be part o f the study, I decided to contact the corresponding course instructors and share with them the main characteristics and goals o f this study. In the meantime, I obtained approval from the Research Ethical Review Board at W C U to proceed. Once I received the instructors' approval, I approached students i n the different courses, normally on the first day o f classes. O n this occasion, I would introduce myself briefly, as well as the goals and characteristics o f the project, and a detailed description o f what the student involvement would consist of. In all cases, I would leave the students with a copy o f the Informed Consent Form (see Appendix A ) for their consideration. I would then return the following class to collect signed forms, and find out whether or not students 33  were in common agreement to allow me to observe their A P s .  Following W C U ' s ethical  review guidelines, I assured participants that I would employ pseudonyms for their names and for the courses i n all cases. (Accordingly, none o f the participants' real names were used in this study, and although the course labels I employed are real, the course numbers are fictional.) In the end, I was given access to seven graduate courses in three different faculties (see Table 3.1), and was able to obtain approval from a total o f 55 students and nine 9  course instructors. Table 3.1 Faculty Clusters, Number of Students, and Participants  Faculty  FM  FA  Course  Number of NSs in the course  Number of NNSs in the course  NS participants  NNS participants  Instructors  BIOC 600  12  3  8  2  1  N R S C 605  22  5  12  3  2  HIST 510  9  3  6  3  2  A N T H 610  10  1  9  1  1  F R E N 600  3  2  2  2  1  E E C E 510  -  3  -  3  a  1  E E C E 512  -  5  -  5  1  37  18  9  FAS  Total number of participants  a. One participant was taking both courses: E E C E 510 and E E C E 512. Hence, although the participant is counted twice in the table so as to show the number of participants per course, for the total number of participants s/he is counted just once.  A s can be observed from the information in Table 3.1, the N S participants amply outnumbered the N N S participants. This is only logical given the fact that i n all cases—with  It was up to the course instructor to decide how they would reach a verdict. In come cases, I was informed that the students had voted for or against my presence, regardless of whether all or only some of the students would be directly involved in the project. In other cases, although no in-class voting took place, I still made sure nobody felt perturbed by my being there as an observer. Participants (in the case of students) are considered to be those of whom I had the chance to, at least, observe their APs. For a detailed list of all participants please refer to Appendix D.  9  34  the exception o f F A S courses, where 100% o f the students were NNSs—national students were in the majority. Although for the purpose of this study I w i l l mostly refer to data gathered from N N S s , I still decided to include the N S participants in the table in order to provide the reader with a clear image o f the course population i n each case.  3.3 Data Collection Procedures A l l data were gathered within an intensive four-month period (from September to December, 2000). This was the first term o f the academic year 2000-2001, and for some students it was the first term at W C U . In order to collect the data, I chose to attend every class (whenever possible) in each o f the seven courses I selected for the study. For this to be physically and temporally possible, I had to ensure there was no overlapping o f timetables, and that I was at a reasonable walking distance from each classroom to reach the setting in time, thereby avoiding class interruptions. A s already mentioned, triangulation o f data was sought in this study. Spradley (1979) maintains that "[i]n doing field work, ethnographers make cultural inferences from three sources: (1) from what people say; (2) from the way people act; and (3) from the artifacts people use" (p. 8). Hence, in order to obtain information that addresses these three sources, a variety o f data was collected in this study. Participants were interviewed after they performed their respective A P s , and they were invited to share with me any comments or opinions they had (they could do this any time by phone, e-mail, or in person before or after class.) I assumed the role o f an observer in the class during the students' presentations, tape-recorded their A P s , and took fieldnotes  35  of my observations and interpretations o f acts and discourse. The artifacts I collected included course outlines, student prepared handouts, and peer evaluation sheet matrices. Although I had designed a questionnaire to be completed by students, I realized it would be too great an imposition, given their already heavy workload and their agreement to be interviewed. The fact that participants were generally so forthcoming in their interviews also led me to decide to leave out the questionnaire. What follows in the next sections is a detailed description o f the different kinds o f data collected for this study.  3.3.1 Observations, Fieldnotes and Audio-recordings of APs In all, I had the opportunity to observe 56 different A P s in the seven courses I had access to. Whenever possible, I would choose to sit in a place in the room where I had a 10  good vision o f not only the presenter, but also the audience. This would give me a chance to witness first hand whatever presenters and their audience (including instructors) experienced during the different A P s . I tried to focus not only on the discourse taking place, but also on the gestures, postures, and reactions of presenters and the audience in the act of performing or listening to an A P . I kept a written record o f this descriptive information in a special notebook for each course. Next to the descriptive information I also included my own interpretations o f what was happening in each case. This kind o f systematized double entry proved to facilitate and enhance the stage o f data analysis, for a broader scope o f  Unfortunately, not all APs I observed were audio-recorded. In most cases this was due to lack of consent from either the student participants or the instructor; in two other cases the data was lost due to a technical problem. I avoided future technical problems by employing a back-up system using two tape recorders simultaneously. Among other difficulties with the collection of this kind of data is the fact that the room size in which recordings were made, the setting's acoustics, and my ability to locate the microphones close enough to the speakers also affected the quality of the tapes.  36  information was included. Provided I was given the students' and instructors' consent, I tape-recorded these presentations. A s Silverman (1993) contends, audio-recordings are an increasingly important part o f qualitative research. Transcripts o f such recordings based on standardized convention, provide an excellent record o f 'naturally occurring' interaction. Compared to fieldnotes o f observational data, recordings and transcripts can offer a highly reliable record to which researchers can return as they develop new hypotheses, (p. 11)  Recorded data thus becomes "an essential corrective to the limitations o f intuition and recollection" (Heritage, 1984, p. 238), helping to minimize the influence o f personal preconceptions or analytical biases, and allowing other researchers and readers to have direct access to the data about which claims are being made. In the data analysis stage o f this research project, I transcribed those sections that I considered relevant to sustain the claims I was making about the A P experience and its relationship to the language socialization o f graduate students into the academic milieu. It is from this data that any theory or conclusions can be derived. Table 3.2 summarizes the information related to the number o f A P s observed and how many o f these observations were tape-recorded. Table 3.2 Observations and Audio-recordings of APs NS APs observed  NNS APs observed  NS APs recorded  NNS APs recorded  BIOC 600  8  2  6  2  N R S C 605  12  3  0  0  HIST 510  6  3  6  2  A N T H 610  9  1  0  0  F R E N 600  2  2  2  2  E E C E 510  0  3  0  3  E E C E 512  0  5  0  5  37  19  14  14  Faculty  FM  FA  FAS  Course  Totals  37  3.3.2 Audio Recorded Open-Ended Interviews To complement the kind o f information collected through observations o f A P s , I invited participants to engage in an open-ended interview. The aim of this interview was to further explore the A P experience and how it affected graduate students from the moment they commenced preparation o f their A P , to the moment they delivered it and immediately after. I chose to include data from interviews i n this study since I share the view that research is a "social production symbolically negotiated between researcher and participant" (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984, p. 57). A s Block (2000) further highlights, "interview data are not seen as the production o f an individual interviewee but as the co-construction of interviewer and interviewee" (p. 759). Block notes that interview data become the "voices adopted by research participants in response to the researcher's prompts and questions" (p. 759), thus making us aware that our prompting during the interview, and our personal relationship with the interviewee inevitably shape the resulting responses. A s researchers relying on interview data to write up our studies, it is imperative that we are conscious o f the fact that the voices we hear from our participants are always contextdependent. In spite o f these arguments of caution, interview data still prove to be most helpful minimizing researcher bias and providing the possibility to re-access the information in its "raw" form. A s Silverman (1993) puts it, "[interviews share with any account an involvement in moral realities. They offer a rich source of data which provide access to how people account for both their troubles and good fortune" (p. 114).  The interviews conducted for this study were semi-structured around open-ended questions (see Appendix B for a list o f sample interview questions for students and instructors). W i t h this list o f questions in mind, I would initiate the interview and from then on  38  listen to what participants chose to say. A s Silverman (1993) indicates, "'[authenticity' rather than reliability is often the issue in qualitative research. The aim is usually to gather 'authentic' understanding o f people's experiences and it is believed that 'open-ended' questions are the most effective route towards this end" (p. 10). Whenever the conversation was straying too far away from the research focus of this study, I would ask a question that brought the participants back to the original focus. Even though all graduate students and their instructors were invited to take part in an interview, not everybody was able to do so. In some cases, this was due to the tight schedule students had; in other cases, it was just a matter of personal reasons for not becoming involved a step further in the project. Still, the number o f students and instructors that agreed to be interviewed was quite large (n=41), and this enhanced the representativeness of the population under study. Table 3.3 summarizes the descriptive information as to the number o f students and instructors interviewed. Table 3.3 Participants Interviewed Faculty  FM  FA  FAS  Course  NS interviewed  NNS interviewed  Instructors interviewed  2  1  b  0  BIOC 600  8  N R S C 605  4  HIST 510  5  3  2  A N T H 610  2  1  0  F R E N 600  1  2  0  E E C E 510  0  3  C  1  E E C E 512  0  3  1  20  16  5  Totals  a  2  a. In the case of all participants in this course, interviews were conducted in dyads, as was convenient for the participants. b. Two NNSs were interviewed in this course. However, recorded data is only available from one of these interviews, since the second participant chose not to be audio-recorded.  39  c. As already indicated in Table 3.1, one participant was observed in both E E C E courses, but interviewed only once. Consequently, although 4 participants in course E E C E 510 were interviewed, only 3 should be counted as the final number.  Interviews, whenever possible, were audio-recorded. Once again, the opportunity o f listening repeatedly to mechanically recorded data is a great advantage to the researcher. A s noted on the table footnotes, in case participants felt uncomfortable with recordings o f their voices, no audio-recordings were made. Fortunately, this occurred only once. Regarding the times and settings in which interviews took place, these were conducted either in the classroom or in the outside surroundings, or i n the student's office. Normally students were interviewed right after they delivered their A P s (once the class was finished and dismissed, o f course). If this was not suitable for the participants, both o f us would agree to meet on a special date, in a place o f the participant's choice (generally the participant's office room or any other public place on W C U campus). Interviews with instructors were conducted once the courses were over. In all cases, interviews took place in either the classroom or the instructor's office room. The average interview length was 20 minutes, though interviews ranged from as short as ten minutes to as long as 45 minutes.  3.3.3 Collection of Written Documents Around APs Written documents were collected whenever they seemed to be relevant to the APs. Course outlines were one kind o f documentation collected; these usually provided a description o f the A P task. Course handouts prepared by students were also collected, though students did not prepare these in all courses. Finally, in one course the instructor  40  provided students with a peer evaluation sheet. A copy o f this sheet was collected, and students were specifically asked to refer to this type o f evaluation in their interviews. ' 1  3.4 Transcription Procedures and Conventions A s already mentioned, a large amount o f data was audio-recorded. O f this data, all interviews were transcribed, and some relevant sections o f A P s were transcribed as well. Transcription o f interviews was done while data was still being collected, and finished almost a month after. This was done close in time to the actual A P s and interviews so that my own still fresh recollections o f what had occurred in each situation would speed up the transcription process. The transcription conventions employed are detailed in Appendix C .  3.5 Data Analysis One characteristic o f qualitative research is its iterative nature. This term, according to Palys (1997), connotes a cyclical (though not merely repetitive) process, where increasing sophistication and change are implied. Data analysis is at the core o f any empirical study: Exploration and description are not, after all, simply ends i n themselves; they're the processes through which one identifies those elements that are important to investigate further, and the description one engages in should be of those elements that are most integral to developing explanations about the phenomenon o f interest, (p. 299)  Regarding the assessment of students, I believe this would have been a very interesting aspect to explore in further detail. However, given that feedback was provided to students mostly at the end of the course (and thus I did not have access to it in all cases), and also given that the kind of feedback students sometimes received was very vague, I decided I did not have sufficient information to analyze assessment issues in this study.  41  There are several suggested ways o f analyzing data. T o go from a description to an explanation/exploratory phase o f the study, I followed Huberman and M i l e s ' (1994) suggestion o f identifying patterns, themes and clusters that emerged from the data. A s I went through the data, I first looked for salient themes that repeated themselves. I also noted those outstanding cases which, though not repeated, might also serve to make a special relevant point. After noting the main themes, I developed a coding category and went through the data again and again, marking each unit (stretch o f transcribed discourse, my own notes) with the appropriate category. I noticed that some units o f data overlapped, and some other units would fit into more than one category. According to Bogdan and B i l k e n (1992), this is what usually occurs in the first steps o f data analysis. After returning repeatedly to transcripts or other documentation in order to reread and reexamine the data searching for salient or recurring themes, and after coding the data, the next step involved organizing those themes in a way that they would portray a logic and serve as an argument to sustain the claims made as a result o f this study. The categorization of patterns or themes is thus presented not on its own, but accompanied by quotes, documents, or descriptions representative o f those patterns, and this is done with the aim o f enhancing the credibility o f this report. In a more advanced stage o f data analysis, comparisons among different faculties and courses were performed. . In sum, through a systematic, deep analysis o f the task o f A P s within the context o f each graduate course at W C U , the aim o f this work was to shed light on the relationship between this task and the role it played in the language socialization o f graduate students into the academic world.  42  APs IN THE FACULTY OF MEDICINE  If we are going to stay in the field of science, we have to get comfortable, 'cause this is just a tiny little forum, I don't know what's gonna be like in the future, giving talks to nearly 500people or so! (Interview, Bettina, BIOC 600)  4.1 Situating the Task Bettina's words above emphasize the need students have to become comfortable presenters. A s incoming members to the broader scientific community, students are aware that part o f their job implies sharing their research and learning about other colleagues' research as well. Thus, looking at the A P s that students performed in medicine courses w i l l shed some light on the language socialization experiences students went through as they tried to learn how to gain access to the larger community o f scientists. In order to gain a better understanding o f how A P s may be understood as an important component that facilitates the discourse socialization o f graduate students, we need to examine the task within the specific contexts i n which its meanings are constructed. Hence, what follows is an attempt at situating A P s within the specific classroom context in which presentations took place. . From September to December 2000,1 observed two different courses offered by the Faculty o f Medicine: one in Biochemistry ( B I O C 600) and the other i n Neuroscience  43  ( N R S C 605). B I O C 600 was an elective (but highly popular) course for students in either the masters or Ph.D. program. Consequently, the student population was usually quite large compared to other optional courses offered in the same department (in this case there were 15 students in the class: 12 N S s and three N N S s ) . The course instructor, Dr. Morgan, had eight years o f experience teaching this course, and this was the fourth year he included A P s 1  0  as one o f the tasks to be fulfilled by students.  Classes took place twice a week (Tuesdays  and Thursdays) for 1.5 hours each time. A P s were one form o f student assessment for this course, representing 20% o f the final course grade; other assignments students were required to do are summarized in Table 4.1: Table 4.1 Faculty of Medicine Tasks Course BIOC 600  NRSC 605  Tasks  Grade%  - oral presentation - draft contribution to a field-specific project based on the A P - research proposal - attendance and class contributions -  class participation in four modules written critique oral presentation of critique [name of] assignment final exam  a  20% 20% 50% • 10% 10% 10% 5% 25% 50%  a. No other criteria was provided or specified besides the grade percentage students could be granted for their APs.  N R S C 605 was a core course for graduate students. It was structured in four modules, with a different module director in each case.  13  The student population in N R S C 605  was comprised o f 27 graduate students: 22 N S s and five N N S s . Classes took place three Another professor (Dr. Klum) at W C U was invited by Dr. Morgan in order to teach one module of this course during a three-week period. Four student APs in BIOC 600 were delivered while Dr. Klum was in charge, and Dr. Morgan was not present in the classroom during this period. Still, Dr. Morgan was responsible for assigning the A P grade to all students. Given that I observed presentations during two modules, for the purpose of this study I will just refer to two (out of the four) instructors in this course: Dr. Thompson and Dr. Stevens. 1 3  44  times a week for two hours each time. A P s in this course were worth a maximum o f 5% o f the final course grade. A detail of the other required tasks in this course is included in Table 4.1.  4.2 On the Surface Level: Descriptive Features of APs in Medicine Besides situating A P s within the corresponding classroom contexts, we also need to look at the descriptive features that help define the task on its surface level. Therefore, what follows is a brief characterization o f A P s in both B I O C 600 and N R S C 605.1 w i l l make reference to aspects such as A P regularity (e.g., whether it was a one-time event, or an ongoing event), A P length, number o f presenters per date, A P format and style.  4.2.1 APs in BIOC 600 The course lasted a total o f 12 weeks in all. A P s i n B I O C 600 started on week three of the course and extended until week ten, with a two-week interruption period in between-weeks seven and eight—where no student A P s were performed. A P s were usually performed on Thursdays, except for one case.  14  Thus, A P s were ongoing in the sense that they  were not just one-time event, but rather they became a basic pattern for Thursday classes, for a period o f seven weeks. Out o f 15 A P s in this course I was able to observe ten. Two o f these were given by N N S s , and the remaining eight by N S s o f English.  Unfortunately, I was not informed of this change in schedule and thus missed the A P performed on this date.  45  The A P s in this course were supposed to follow a format specified by the instructor upon commencement o f the course. According to this format, A P s should take around 25 minutes, plus a ten-minute question period. Consequently, each presentation date there was enough time for only two presentations. A s can be observed i n Table 4.2, A P s in B I O C 600 lasted an average.of 36.3 minutes. Table 4.2 A P Length - B I O C 600 Shortest AP  25 minutes  Longest AP  43 minutes  Mean  36.3 minutes  The style i n which A P s were performed could be defined, according to my observation o f the presenters' behaviors and procedures, as moderately formal. Presenters attempted to stick to the prescribed 3 5-minute limit, but even i f they went overtime, the instructor would not interrupt the A P . In all cases, presenters stood at the front o f the room for the whole period, giving the event a certain touch o f formality. The instructor would usually sit at one side o f the room, close to the rest o f the audience but i n a relatively visible place. The audience would remain in complete silence during the A P , and once the question period commenced, students took turns to ask questions. This kind o f pattern repeated itself almost identically for the ten A P s I observed. It should be noted, though, that while for the first three weeks o f A P s the classroom atmosphere seemed to be quite tense and ceremonial (manifested through complete silence not only while the presenter was speaking, but also during the question period where only two o f the students that were in the audience would usually ask questions; absence of jokes or ice breakers; tense faces among presenters and audience), towards the middle and end o f the presentation schedule the classroom atmo-  46  sphere loosened up and more fluid interaction between presenters and the audience started to take place.  4.2.2 APs in NRSC 605 In the case of N R S C 605, A P s were given on three specific dates (Oct. 20, Nov. 20, and Dec. 8), which coincided with the end o f modules two, three and four respectively. Regular lectures were not given on these particular dates, when as many as nine students were scheduled to deliver their A P s each class. Hence, A P s in this course could be identified as a three-time event. I was able to observe a total o f 15 presentations i n N R S C 605: eight on Oct. 20 (while Dr. Thompson was in charge) and seven A P s on Nov. 20 (while Dr. Stevens was in charge). While 12 A P s I observed were delivered by N S s o f English, three were given by N N S s . W i t h regard to the format o f A P s in this course, students were required to strictly follow the instructions detailed in the course outline: Present a 10 m i n synopsis of this critique to the class. There w i l l be 5 min. for discussion at the end. Y o u can show up to 5 overheads i f you want. For the presentation start with point #3 (do not state the summary #2). Convince the class that this subject is worth studying. A l s o state the hypotheses that are tested and the experiments that test the hypotheses. Then discuss the limitations and the possible future directions and experiments. Y o u may want to select some provocative points to stimulate discussion with the rest o f the class. A s the presenter you w i l l field the questions. The instructors w i l l wait until after the students ask their questions before they raise their hands. Therefore, a good presentation w i l l stimulate discussion among the students with minimal i f any involvement (questions) from the instructors. ( N R S C 605 course outline, p. 3) In all, each presenter was allowed 15 minutes and was entitled to use up to a maximum o f five overhead transparencies. From my observations, instructions detailed above  47  were followed precisely by most students.  A l l the A P s performed on Oct. 20 were even  timed with an alarm clock. Once the alarm rang, students had to move on the next stage (e.g., from presenting to answering questions) or to the next presenter. Given that as many as nine presenters presented on each date, for practical reasons and out o f respect to all presenters the timing was strictly enforced (see Table 4.3 for details on A P length in N R S C 605). Table 4.3 A P Length - N R S C 605 Shortest AP  15 minutes  Longest AP  20 minutes  Mean  15.33 minutes  In cases where presenters disregarded the time limit, Dr. Thompson intervened. For instance, M a r k (NS) was asked a question and when he was about to respond, the alarm rang. M a r k started to answer, but after 45 seconds he was stopped by the instructor who signalled the end o f M a r k ' s A P by saying: "I think you should stop" (fieldnotes, Mark, N R S C 605), and started clapping. In another instance when the alarm system was not used, Carla went five minutes overtime before Dr. Stevens thought it appropriate and interrupted: "Thanks, but I think we have to push on" (field notes, Dr. Stevens, N R S C 605). With regard to the style o f A P s , from the information I gathered through the observation o f A P s , these were delivered in a quite formal manner, timing and format being strictly respected. The silent expectant classroom atmosphere, plus the fact that presenters stood in front o f the class and were considered for those 15 minutes as experts on the topic added to the formality o f the event. In addition to the thoroughly paced and structured way  Out of the 15 APs I observed, only one student failed to comply with the five overhead limit rule, and two students went a few minutes overtime during the five minute question period. 1 5  48  of the A P s , jokes or ice breakers were mostly absent and perceived by most presenters as a waste o f time (this opinion was gathered from informal conversation with students).  4.3 Underneath the Surface: Essential Aspects that Help Define APs in Medicine A t first glance, A P s in B I O C 600 and N R S C 605 look quite contrastive: B I O C 600 A P s were ongoing, 30 minutes long, with two presenters per day, allowing for more casual interaction (though it did not necessarily occur) and plenty o f discussion. O n the other hand, A P s in N R S C 605 were strictly timed, did not exceed 15 minutes, with nine presenters per day, and they were a three-time event. However, these superficial, more descriptive features o f A P s do not necessarily define the essence o f A P s in Medicine. This becomes evident as I discuss the content o f A P s , the purposes they fulfil, the linguistic demands they pose on presenters, and the qualities valued in the discipline. I f we look closely at these latter aspects, we w i l l discover that they are mostly shared by both courses in the Faculty of Medicine. Such an overlap is not the result of sheer coincidence, but I would rather argue that these features that underlie A P s in both B I O C 600 and N R S C 605 help construct the meaning o f the task within the context o f the Faculty o f Medicine.  4.3.1 The Content of APs The kind o f content students were requested to present i n B I O C 600 as well as in N R S C 605 was that o f a research article. Each article would typically include details o f the research study background, methodology, with a main emphasis generally on the different experiments performed and the results o f these experiments. Figures, photographs, and  49  tables illustrated these experiments. A section outlining the findings and contributions of the research study was also part o f the article. While B I O C 600 students were requested to present the whole article, including some critical comments, N R S C 605 students were asked to concentrate on their critique o f the published work. Still, students in both courses were faced with the same type o f material: the research article. The choice o f content is associated with the usual kind o f task demanded from scientists in the "real" world: Scientists are used to reading, examining, and criticizing each others' experimental work. Thus, the A P s in B I O C 600 and N R S C 605 represented a good chance for students to rehearse a kind o f task they w i l l most certainly be exposed to repeatedly in their careers.  4.3.2 The Sequence Patterns of APs Each A P can be described in terms o f the sequence around which it is organized as well. The internal organization of A P s consists of a number o f stages, each o f which signals a different moment of the presentation. Thus, we can identify a template sequence followed by students i n each course. The A P sequence around which B I O C 600 students organized their A P s included the stages shown i n Figure 4.1:  Topic introduction  Summary of background  ^  Question period  Summary of methodology  ^  Conclusion  r  Main findings  \  Critique  J  Figure 4.1 A P Sequence - B I O C 600 50  The standard sequence that all N R S C 605 students followed to organize and deliver their A P s is shown in Figure 4.2:  Topic introduction  Question period  Research questions (i.e.  Main hypotheses  experimental problem)  Suggestions for future research  <^3  Critique  Figure 4.2 A P Sequence - N R S C 605  Though both sequences differ in terms o f some o f the stages included, it can also be argued that some main sequence components are very similar. In both courses, students were asked to introduce the topic, present the work o f the paper's authors, criticize this work, and finally lead a question period. Once again, this served as a kind o f exercise to gain practice and expertise in the task o f critically analyzing somebody else's work. Even though students paid attention to the standard A P sequence in B I O C 600 and N R S C 605, the amount o f time and the kind o f emphasis each presenter put on each stage varied from presenter to presenter. For instance, in some cases the presenters chose to include a very brief summary o f the background and devote more time to the presentation of methodological issues and findings. In other cases, the summary o f methodology was extremely brief, and the emphasis was placed on the findings and critique o f the research article. The critique stage was sometimes not obvious as a stage, but rather the presenter chose to include some critical comments throughout the presentation (e.g., when describing the methodology, some critical comments were also introduced by the presenter). This vari51  ability represents the local, personal nature o f how the task is constructed, perceived, and enacted by each individual. Even i f the students were provided with specific instructions as to how to organize their A P , it was up to them to finally determine how to structure and deliver their presentations.  4.3.3 The Purpose(s) of APs The choice o f A P s as a required assignment was not haphazard. Presentations in both B I O C 600 and N R S C 605 were included as a task with a set of purposes. Some of these purposes were explicitly stated (e.g., in the course outline), while other purposes were not overtly expressed, but were nonetheless in the minds o f instructors and students. Dr. Morgan, the B I O C 600 instructor, viewed A P s as a great opportunity to stimulate in students the ability to critically evaluate existing research. This was perceived as the main purpose A P s fulfilled, and as can be appreciated from the instructor's own comments, it was a very crucial one:  I think there are ... several aims that I have i n the course. (...) the actual content is it's important but it's not the only objective? ...for me, the most important things that the students - should get out of the course are- the opportunity to - critically evaluate - pieces of information. And then do two different things: one is tell other people about it - and second it's to write a report - which - expresses their ideas on the topic. Because I think that those are - two central activities ... that they have to develop in order to function - in science. Basically they have to - think critically, and they have to - communicate their ideas - both orally and in written form. So that's the main reason ...the oral presentations is one of the major parts - of what I think are the major skills that the students should be working on. (...) the most important factor is that they are working on things that are gonna be helpful in their graduate program? That's - the major rationale for having presentations. (Interview, D r . Morgan, B I O C 600)  1 6  Words in italics are used to draw attention to a particular segment that is the focus of an analytic point. (Refer to Appendix C for a summary of transcription conventions.)  52  Dr. Morgan also mentioned that the two kinds o f assignments he usually requires students to do in this course (i.e., the oral presentation and the written report) are two activities or skills students have to be completely familiar with i n order to fully function in the academic community and in the world o f science. Taking into consideration the expectations for A P s in N R S C 605, it can also be concluded that the major objective for having this task in this course was to allow students to prepare themselves for a type o f scientific activity. Students were well aware o f this purpose, and recognized the need to practice giving A P s i n order to acquire the necessary presentation skills to be successful at professional or academic conferences, for instance. A s described by Mark (NS), A P s were highly justified i n this course, given that the need to present i n front o f classmates and instructors provides an opportunity for practicing: Y o u know, for uh, I think it is for students, 'cause you can see, you know, when j^ow look around and watch people, you can tell that people - there's a fairly high level of inexperience? giving talks? A n d -1 see this is you know the same thing for physicians too? Y o u know, some people are very comfortable -1 think what most people -1 think what people probably don't -uh - realize it that - uh - that preparation is really a big deal, practicing it is a big deal, and that uh - ya. (Interview, Mark, N R S C 605) Other classmates also stated that A P s in a graduate course provided an excellent chance to practice i n order to decrease the level o f nervousness i n future presentations. Anne (NS) indicated the following: I think it's good too because - throughout our academic career - or - any career that we have - we may be presenting. So maybe in your undergradyou might leave with only two presentations, and you just don 't have the experience, and you 're totally nervous and you have to learn on the spot? But having the practice -(...) That, I mean, I used to get nervous before I went up there? But now [I don't any more]. (Interview, Anne, N R S C 605)  53  Forcing students to organize their thoughts carefully was one of the hidden goals for doing A P s in N R S C 605. L i s a (NS) mentioned that one thing / found really good about this kind ofpresentation of the critique was that it really forces you to make sure that you know, you 're really sure that you 're gonna get that material well, because there's gonna be some experts there, and you must talk about something that you have just learned. (Interview, Lisa, N R S C 605) Some participants stated that N N S s were at a disadvantage, given that they were supposed to present in English, their L 2 , and this might hinder the way the A P was perceived. It was in this kind o f situations where A P s also served as a good chance to practice not only the skills, but also the kind o f interaction and behavior expected from a presenter in an English speaking environment such as that o f W C U . A s .expressed by Robert (NS): Certainly some people in this class are in a big disadvantage. They're excellent students and really they know the material, uh, but -1 mean it's the reality o f doing graduate work in Canada, I guess if they 're gonna be here they 're gonna have to present his material in English. So I guess it was an important exercise for them, but I think it was difficult. (Interview, Robert, N R S C 605)  In sum, A P s in Medicine fulfilled a multiplicity o f purposes. They provided students with an opportunity to practice public speaking and thus helped them become more effective presenters in the future. A P s also helped them decrease their level o f nervousness, and forced students to know well the material (as opposed to just reading it without pressure). To N N S s , A P s represented the additional challenge/chance o f presenting in a foreign language. Thus, N N S s could see A P s as an opportunity to practice the English language itself. Above all purposes, since A P s are quite essential i n science, both B I O C 600 and N R S C 605 seemed to offer a great opportunity for students to gain expertise in this task.  54  4.3.4 Discourse Features of APs Besides being familiar with the course expectations, i n order to prepare and deliver the A P s , students needed to be familiar with the appropriate disciplinary terminology. For example, A P s in medicine were characterized by the use o f technical scientific language. Thus, anybody without knowledge o f this kind o f terminology would not be able to either present or make much sense o f what was being said. It was this particular feature o f A P s that represented a definite challenge to N N S s .  4.3.4.1 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Perceived Through Observations In this case, N N S s seemed to be at an obvious disadvantage when compared to their N S peers. O n top o f all the demands posed to presenters when preparing for and delivering an A P , those who had not previously studied in English-speaking environments struggled with the English language per se. A s I observed Jose, Sohan, L i n , Elena and Carl doing their presentations, I could not fail to notice almost immediately after their opening words that this task was demanding for all o f them, not only in terms o f the content and organization, but also in terms o f the linguistic demands it represented for each o f these five N N S s o f English. (a) Jose, a student whose first language was Spanish, delivered his A P in a carefully rehearsed (word by word) fashion. He rarely paused, or included "filler" words/phrases (such as " O k , let's see now", or "So that's..."), which his N S peers would use pervasively. H i s frequent use o f passive constructions resembled those found i n written texts, not oral texts. H i s limited choice o f transitional words (he kept on using "also, then, after that"), though correctly used, probably reflected that his linguistic repertoire was not as broad as that o f his N S peers. In addition to this, Jose also had to cope with the strong effect o f his Spanish accent, a challenge by no means to be overlooked. (Some o f his N S peers commented in their interviews that Jose's accent had actually made it hard for them to follow his presentation, and even though he had managed to convey the message, it required extra effort and patience.) 55  (b) Sohan came from India. H i s main linguistic drawback was his strong Punjabi accent, which interfered slightly at times impeding easy understanding (i.e., the audience was forced to think and find out what he was attempting to say). H e tended to rush his speech on some occasions, and whereas i f he had done this in his L I his speech would not have been obscured, by rushing his talk in English his words became blurry and difficult to understand.Though he had more experience speaking English in his home country than Jose (who was actually giving a presentation in English for the first time in his life), Sohan's linguistic competence did not match that o f his N S peers. (c) L i n , a young woman from China who could barely communicate orally in English, obviously struggled throughout the whole A P . L i n did not only have problems pronouncing the technical terminology in English, but she also struggled to make grammatically correct sentences, let alone try to sound natural or comfortable speaking in English. During the question period, L i n was not able to understand most o f the questions she was being asked, and therefore she had to request her peers to rephrase them. In two out o f five cases, she was not able to respond due to a linguistic misunderstanding. (d) Elena, a young woman from Poland, managed to deliver her A P i n a precise (i.e., correct grammar) yet very tense manner. She seemed to have learned her talk by heart, since on three occasions she stopped for brief moments and tried to remember the words she had thought o f using for her A P . Thus, her rehearsed style o f talk evidenced her lack o f confidence speaking i n her L 2 , and her strategies to compensate for that. (e) Carl was a German student. Although he seemed to be quite comfortable speaking English (with a more informal style of talk and even more nativelike patterns o f intonation and pronunciation), at some points during his presentation he was forced to rephrase the same idea more than three times, for he seemed to struggle in order to find the correct wording to convey his ideas. (This is something that seemed to bother him, for in the interview he made explicit reference to how presenting in his L 2 forced h i m to be repetitive.) It was on occasions like these that his linguistic struggles were made obvious.  Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to tape-record any o f the A P s in N R S C 605. Hence, I am not able to include any transcriptions of extracts from A P s given in this course. However, my fieldnotes o f students' A P s are helpful in reconstructing a few episodes that help to illustrate the kind o f situations in which N N S s struggled with their L 2 proficiency. For instance, in one case L i n read aloud a sentence on one o f the overhead transparencies  56  she used. After reading the whole sentence, she stopped, looked back at the screen, and reread the sentence after noticing she had skipped a word (and thus, the sentence did not make any sense). Although this kind o f situation could also occur to N S s o f English, no doubt, in the case o f L i n it was just one more instance in which her apparently lower English proficiency seemed to affect her delivery. A s well, the fact that L i n relied heavily on her overhead transparencies throughout the entire A P (apparently avoiding glancing at the audience for fear she would get lost) seemed to indicate she felt insecure. Finally, her struggles to utter technical terms such as regulation, synaptic, residue, and electrophysiology revealed some o f her pronunciation difficulties. In the case o f Jose and Sohan (both students in B I O C 600), I was able to gather taperecorded data from their A P s . However, given that these two students seemed to have difficulties mainly associated with the influence o f their L I accent, these kind o f struggles are complicated to illustrate in a written transcription. (Besides, they fall beyond the scope o f linguistic analysis performed in this thesis.) In the case o f Sohan, he seemed to be quite comfortable presenting in English. This was most likely due to the fact that he had taught an undergraduate course in English while he was in India, his home country. O n the other hand, since this was Jose's first A P in English, it was evident from his perceivable shaky tone that he was extremely nervous at the start o f the event.  57  4.3.4.2 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Reported by Presenters Students' perceptions of their own struggles coincided with my overall impressions. A l l five N N S s were conscious o f the challenges they faced when presenting in a second language, and some o f them were even worried about their situation. Jose would have preferred to present in Spanish, his L I . In fact, since this was his first A P in English, he confessed he did not sleep for the 24 hours before the event, a situation that was very stressful. Though he did not seem too concerned with his use o f English for everyday purposes, he did say that he needed a lot more practice with technical vocabulary. According to Carl, presenting in his L 2 prevented him from maximizing his potential to express his ideas succinctly. To him, speaking in English meant that he would inevitably face the problem o f redundancy. Sandra: So, going back to speaking English as a second language, do you think that it influenced the way that you presented? If you had made the same presentation but in Germany, would it have been a little bit different? Carl: M y presentation in German? Sandra: Yeah. W o u l d you have felt more comfortable, or the same? Carl: Yeah, o f course I could have said more in- in less words! yes. Yeah, you don't have the problem with redundancy then, it's more comfortable in your language, yeah. (Interview, Carl, N R S C 605)  Consequently, presenting in his L I would make him feel more comfortable. One o f the course instructors (Dr. Morgan, B I O C 600) acknowledged the fact that presenting in an L 2 does have an influence on the way the presentation is perceived. Though linguistic deficiencies can be partially compensated for with good visuals, and though the audience focuses mainly on the content o f the presentation rather than on the  58  form, i f presenters show a certain degree o f linguistic struggle this w i l l inevitably impact the delivery: A n d , but you know, in a practical sense i f someone's control of language is not sufficient to get basic ideas across, then I think it's bound to influence the way that you perceive the presentation? U h - uh -1 guess what I try to do is to still - assess the scientific thinking? as well as the actual presentation. (...) And with a visual presentation you can get around with - a good clear diagram - a set of clear statements that would need some practice beforehand. So that's not a serious impediment - though it does have some influence. (Interview, Dr. Morgan, B I O C 600) According to a N S peer, one of the main problems N N S s face comes down to understanding what the audience wants to know during the question period. Sandra: N o w , what about- one thing is what you present, and another thing is like the five minute question period. H o w do you think then - are they able to prepare for that question period? Mark: That's like - that's a major problem, and I've seen people at international conferences going out in flames during the question period because of that. Partly because often times they don't even understand the question? U h - that's uh - that's actually very common. They don't understand the question they are being asked, and secondly they are not confident to describe, you know. A n d often times I find i f their supervisor or somebody in their lab that speaks better English is in their audience at the time o f the question period, it's useful. But it's tough, that's the main problem. (Interview, Mark, N R S C 605) M a r k had actually observed many N N S s i n situations—in other contexts—where they struggled to understand the questions they were being posed. Linguistic difficulties also implied in some cases that the presenters were not able to provide accurate responses.  4.4 Qualities Promoted in the Faculty of Medicine Presenters in both courses tried to conform to the expected values promoted in their field. Students knew that for this task emphasis was to be placed on providing a good out-  59  line and critique o f the article they were presenting. In order to do so, students needed to deploy the skills necessary to successfully get their message across, for sharing ideas and opinions are part o f what it is to be a scientist. A m o n g the qualities valued and promoted i n the Faculty o f Medicine (as observed and mentioned by instructors and presenters) were the following (see Figure 4.3):  Figure 4.3 A P Qualities Valued in the Faculty of Medicine  While Figure 4.3 summarizes the qualities valued in the Faculty o f Medicine, there are some behaviors that are discouraged in the field. Eluding the behaviors shown i n Figure 4.4 was also promoted in B I O C 600 and N R S C 605:  60  present too much information at one time  read aloud most of the presentation  Behaviors discouraged in Medicine  choose a topic that is not interesting to the audience  Figure 4.4 A P Behaviors Discouraged in the Faculty of Medicine  A s long as presenters behaved according to the expected qualities valued in the courses, and provided that they avoided the behaviors discouraged in the discourse community, presenters' success was guaranteed. However, the issue o f whether presenters were to adhere to these qualities or not warrants closer examination. To start with, qualities such as "being straightforward and succinct" may sound simple and easy to accomplish. Yet this is not the case for a vast majority o f students, especially for those who come from cultural backgrounds and discourse communities where directness and explicitness i n talk are to be discouraged. A s well, "being able to spark a discussion and cope with it" was a job that some N N S s were just not ready to manage. For instance, in the case o f L i n , her inexperience giving talks in her own native C h i nese added to her inexperience giving talks in English. In fact, during the interview L i n explained that people in China in the community o f practice she belonged to were not used to giving presentations, and as a student she was not expected to promote discussion. O n  61  the contrary, challenging authorities' opinions was viewed by L i n as a negative behavior. A n d to L i n , reading aloud sounded like a formal, acceptable way o f presenting—yet reading aloud was completely discouraged in this new community o f practice into which she was being immersed. Obviously, this kind o f cultural educational background clashes with the Canadian educational context into which L i n was now negotiating access. Hence, in addition to the linguistic challenges L i n had to cope with, she was also learning about a different way o f behaving in class: she was learning the Canadian way o f being a graduate student of medicine. W e can say that for students like L i n , the process o f language socialization as a graduate student in a Canadian university involves the process o f multiple socialization L i (2000) talks about: socialization as a novice in a new study environment (Canada), and socialization as a novice operating within a new language (English) and culture (Faculty o f Medicine graduate courses). Thus, though the linguistic challenges faced by N N S s were considerable, there were other kinds o f challenges that this group o f presenters had to cope with. In the next section I outline and discuss the kind o f presentation strategies that students employed in order to approximate to the expected values promoted in the corresponding courses.  4.5 Strategies Employed by Presenters The task o f giving an A P involved students i n a series o f choices: presenters had to decide from the start how to tackle the assignment. This decision-making process is related to the conscious selection o f strategies employed by students in order to organize and prepare the A P , and also at a later stage, to how they delivered the presentation. We can thus 62  identify two main groups o f strategies students counted on to try to adhere to the expected behaviors in their community of practice: preparation strategies and delivery strategies. In the next two sections I w i l l make reference to strategies employed by both N S s and N N S s , and I w i l l distinguish as well those strategies that were exclusively employed by N N S s .  4.5.1 Preparation Strategies Preparation strategies are related to the tactics students employed to make themselves ready for the event. Prepare ahead of time Most students expressed i n their interviews that preparing an A P demanded time and effort. To manage to successfully complete the task, they started the A P preparation in advance. However, while N N S s in B I O C 600 took an average o f six hours to prepare for their presentation (including reading the research article and preparing the talk and the transparencies), N N S s took an average o f 25 hours. The same occurred with participants in N R S C 605: N S s needed an average o f five hours to go through the article and then set up their A P , while the three N N S s in this course took about four times longer. Consult undergrad textbook A preparation strategy that one N S referred to was consulting an old textbook. "I had to go back to textbooks, quite a bit, like I went back to undergrad textbooks to see i f I could pull out figures that would be relevant for explaining the s t u f f (Interview, Joseph, B I O C 600). Perhaps international students would have done the same (i.e., consult their old textbooks/materials) i f they had access to them.  63  Consult with an expert Although most students seemed to be prepared enough to cope with the task by themselves with no additional support, one o f the participants, a N N S , decided to contact one o f the referenced authors i n the article he had to present. Practice For students who were presenting in N R S C 605, time was a big issue. They were well aware that they would have to stick to the 15-minute limit, and thus one o f the most often mentioned strategies was that o f practicing their talk and timing it. However, while most N S s practiced their talk just once, N N S s felt the need to practice it at least an average of three times. Some students also practiced in front o f an audience (generally other peers), and i f they did not manage to get an audience, they just pretended they had one. A s well, N N S s concentrated on one more aspect that their native peers did not really pay attention to: language. For one N N S , practicing actually involved saying the words she would use "maybe around ten times, each word" (Interview, L i n , N R S C 605). This shows how for this student, presenting in her L 2 represented a great challenge—one she had to prepare herself for. For another N N S who was presenting in English for the first time in his life, practicing involved going "through the whole talk for about four or five times at least" (Interview, Jose, B I O C 600). O n the other hand, a N S peer "just flipped through it once on the bus" (Interview, Charles, B I O C 600). While differences in amount o f practice may be due to the presenter's own confidence in the topic (and not just the language), it was interesting to observe that N N S s made reference to both the linguistic challenge of the A P and the practical challenges o f presenting.  64  Choose familiar topic While presenters in N R S C 605 were not given the chance to choose the article for their A P , students in B I O C 600 were given that option. Hence, a strategy that both N S and N N S resorted to was to choose a topic that was either related to their interests or to their prior experience in the field. A s Jose mentioned, Yes, in fact / chose my paper because I have some experience with analytic chemistry, and since the calcium measurements are just an analytical chemistry, it's just that it's done i n a different level, it's done on living systems, so that's why I chose the paper. (Interview, Jose, B I O C 600) Choose to present the "big picture," leaving details aside: A few N S s mentioned that they had actually chosen to leave details aside in their A P s , and thus concentrated on the "big picture." One N S even made a light critique o f his N N S classmates' presentations (which had taken place the class before), arguing that they had gone too far into the details, and this had made the A P boring. Instead, this student chose to select the main points to the audience, and avoid being in the front for a long time. W e l l , and I - they [the authors] do typically go into all the methods they use, so many techniques - / kind of mentioned the basics of what the test is, but I didn 't actually go into how actually they did it. We would have been here for a long time ((laughs)). (Interview, Charles, B I O C 600) Say less (in some cases) Sohan, a N N S , argued that one o f his strategies was to avoid saying everything: "less means more. It means the less data you put into people's heads, people are going to accept it more readily" (Interview, Sohan, B I O C 600). Other N S peers also made reference to the same strategy, explaining that in some cases it was difficult to choose what to  65  leave out o f the presentation, because you run the risk " o f leaving loose strings" (Interview, Frank, B I O C 600).  4.5.2 Delivery Strategies Keeping the audience's attention was a major goal most presenters had in mind. In order to do so, they resorted to a (combination o f a) variety o f strategies. Speak at a slow speed, ask and answer questions Carl, a N N S , believed that speaking at a slow pace would enhance his presentation. A s well, he thought that a good way to show his expertise was for h i m to frame questions and answer them right away: Sandra: What does the presenter need to do to present in a good way? What do you think? Carl: What I think? Sandra: Yeah. Carl: He has to go slowly; and first you have to talk to the students and you have to ask questions and answer them. Yeah, this is the way how to, yeah, keep the attention. (Interview, Carl, N R S C 605) Use gestures In addition, Carl mentioned that using gestures is a good way to catch the audience's attention: Sandra: Is there anything else a person needs to do or to have? Carl: Yeah, I think it's not just the way to talk, it's also the way o f - (2) what do they say - gesticulation? Sandra: Ok, gestures, ((prompting)) Carl: Gestures, yeah (Interview, Carl, N R S C 605). It was interesting that while most o f the N S presenters I observed made ample use of gestures and body expressions, none o f the N S presenters I interviewed reflected on  66  that. O n the other hand, N N S presenters were the ones who pointed to this strategy, while they were the ones who employed it the least. Probably this speaks to the fact that N N S s were just learning about the role o f gestures and thus they were incorporating the strategy at a conscious level (while most N S s had already unconsciously mastered it). Doing the A P early in the day Some students, i f given the chance, chose to be among the first presenters o f the day. The rationale behind this choice was that "people's span o f attention always wanes as the day progresses" (Interview, Mark, N R S C 605). There was no distinctive pattern o f order o f presentation choice between N S and N N S presenters. Select / skip some parts to conform to time constraints If students had been granted more time, some o f them would have gone into more detail. For instance, Jose mentioned that although he had prepared a longer talk, I also skipped some parts of my topic - because it was taking too long (...) in fact / selected-1 think I tried to select the most important things - the highlights on all the processes done to - measure - calcium - within the cells. U h , there were many other - things that I could have explained - with a little more detail, but it was - it was just a matter of time. (Interview, Jose, B I O C 600) Pretend the audience does not know as much as the presenter does To reduce the level o f nervousness, Sohan mentioned that he usually pretends the audience is not very knowledgeable about the topic he presents, and this allows him to feel more at ease while talking. I'm nervous just before it starts. (...) when people are looking at my eyes -1 visualize them, I tend to visualize them as - my students back in India ((small laughs)). So then the things become very easy - so I feel I'm safe - because then I think they don't know as much as I do\ (Interview, Sohan, B I O C 600)  67  Avoid looking at the audience in order to reduce nervousness While maintaining eye contact was a strategy mentioned by most students, in the case o f L i n (a N N S ) , avoiding eye contact was exactly what she did i n order to reduce her level o f nervousness: "I feel scary - when more people looking at me. So I don't look to people. I just look - read my notes and present" (Interview, L i n , B I O C 600). A s I observed L i n during her A P , I noticed her eyes would usually be focused on her notes, and in the event she did look somewhere else, she avoided maintaining direct eye contact with any o f the people in the audience. However, this might have inadvertently affected her presentation, for there was the sense that she was not able to establish any kind o f rapport with the audience. Use humor While N N S s tended to stick to the content o f the paper they were presenting, some N S peers would actually deviate a little bit the topic o f their talks through including a little bit of humor in their presentations. However, the audience was not always receptive to capture this humor, and thus the effect was lost. In the case o f Charles, for instance, he made a side commentary in his A P which was supposed to make the audience laugh. But nobody seemed to catch his joke, and he was left with sheer disappointment: I was trying to, you know, to give a little bit of humor, you know, I said: "It's the (x) diet" [which was supposed to make people laugh], and they 're just looking "ah? ah? " - If you 're just like "ah? ah? " - that doesn't work. (Interview, Charles, B I O C 600)  In the case o f Cynthia, another N S , she started her A P with an overhead transparency o f a math equation. The immediate response o f the audience was that o f abrupt laugh-  68  ter and little bit o f whispering around. Cynthia had purposely included this overhead as an "ice breaker," and this is all she needed in order to start her A P more relaxed. A s she said, "That was the only thing I was focusing on when I got up there! I had one thing that I could do! ((laughs)). I actually prepared it this morning -I thought it would be kind of fun.'''' (Interview, Cynthia, B I O C 600) Read aloud Though only one out o f the 25 students I observed in the Faculty o f Medicine courses resorted to reading aloud for the presentation, I believe that this presenter's strategy should not be ignored (even i f it does not represent what the majority did). In fact, I think it is worth highlighting what occurred in this case, for it sheds some light on L i n ' s plight. A s already mentioned, L i n came from China, and she explained that in her home country she was not used to presenting. O n top o f that, she believed that a "formal" (and thus good) way of presenting involved reading aloud. However, this was not the proper way to do it in N R S C 605, where students were not expected to read but to speak more spontaneously. The more extemporaneous the talk, the more the presenter was perceived as an expert in the topic. Hence, i n her A P L i n failed to respond to the values promoted i n her community o f practice, and all she was left with was an experience that would hopefully help her become a better presenter in the future: I - this m y first presentation. So I -1 hope that next ones are better-1 think so, I need to practice speaking English. But now I know - but my problem is speak. I can read, but not speak! (Interview, L i n , N R S C 605).  69  Use visuals A l l o f the presenters in both courses made use o f overhead transparencies in their presentations. In fact, it seems that presenters would not have been successful had they not included visuals such as graphics, photos, tables, and so forth. This kind o f information cannot be as easily and as effectively conveyed through the use o f words. Thus, it seems that in order to be a successful presenter in the Faculty of Medicine, students generally had to make ample use o f overhead transparencies. Stand in front of the audience Students in both N R S C 605 and B I O C 600 delivered their A P s standing in front o f the audience. While some presenters seemed to be comfortable i n this prominent position, others looked somehow intimidated when i n front o f the whole audience. Walking around (but not too much) was a sign that identified presenters as being comfortable i n that position, while remaining in the same spot for almost the whole A P revealed a certain lack o f confidence or feeling o f awkwardness. Since standing in front o f the audience is a kind o f behavior typically expected of scientists delivering talks (or o f doctors talking to their patients), eventually all students in N R S C 605 and B I O C 600 would have to become comfortable in this position. In sum, both N S s and N N S s made use o f a wide range o f strategies i n order to try and meet the course (i.e., the community's) expectations. However, to highlight a distinguishing factor o f N N S presenters, this group o f students resorted to a pool o f strategies (such as rehearsing difficult words in a loud voice, or rehearsing the whole A P four or five  Students in medicine mentioned that they usually employ computer-generated slides for their APs. However, they were not allowed to do so for N R S C 605. 1 7  70  times) that would help them cope with the linguistic challenges they faced. This type o f strategy was not employed by any o f the N S s in the course. A s well, a strategy such as reading aloud was chosen by one N N S , making it evident that she was not yet familiarized with the expected type o f talk valued and promoted in the course.  71  APs IN THE FACULTY OF ARTS  So, in the social science discipline, or humanity discipline, if the scholar or student can't express thems elf freely -1 think his paper or his presentation - wouldn't be very popular. I don't think so. (Interview, Chao, HIST 510)  5.1 Situating the Task Just as A P s seemed to be pervasive in the Faculty o f Medicine, this also seemed to be the case in the Faculty of Arts. I was able to observe A P s in three courses in this faculty: a History course (HIST 510), and Anthropology course ( A N T H 610), and a course offered by the French, Italian, and Hispanic Languages Department ( F R E N 600). H I S T 510 and F R E N 600 were elective courses, whereas A N T H 610 was part o f the required course load for students in the masters/doctoral program in the Department o f Anthropology and Sociology. Classes in all three courses took place once a week. In H I S T 510 and F R E N 600, classes were about 120 minutes long, while in A N T H 610 they lasted 180 minutes. In all, I was able to observe as many as 23 students in this Faculty. In H I S T 5101 observed six N S s and three N N S s (out o f 12 students i n the course); i n A N T H 610 nine N S s and one N N S (out o f 11 students in the course), and in F R E N 600 two N S s and two N N S s (out o f five students in the course). In H I S T 510 there were two course instructors: D r . Samuels and Dr. Kovak. Both o f them had been teaching in the department for several years, and they had team-taught this 72  course for three years (though not consecutively). Dr. Evans, the course instructor for A N T H 610, had taught the same course the previous session; and Dr. Hubert was team teaching F R E N 600 with other two instructors, but each of them was in charge o f a different module.  18  Besides the presentation, students in all three courses were required to do other tasks. Table 5.1 summarizes the kind of tasks and the grade percentage associated with each task i n the three courses:  Table 5.1 Faculty of Arts Tasks Course  Tasks  Grade%  HIST 510  oral presentation final research paper  25% 75%  A N T H 610  oral presentations class discussion/participation fieldwork projects research proposal  20% 20% 30% 30%  FREN 600  oral presentation final research paper  15% 85%  A s shown on the table, the maximum grade percentage awarded to students for their A P s varied i n all three courses, ranging between 15% and 25%.  Dr. Hubert was in charge of module two, when I observed the APs.  73  5.2 On the Surface Level: Descriptive Features of APs in Arts 5.2.1 APs in HIST 510  The course lasted for a period o f 12 weeks, presentations starting in week 3 and extending until week 12. A P s were an ongoing activity in this course, for there was usually one presenter' in each class, and the A P s became the main (and sole) activity of each class, 9  under the leadership/guidance o f each presenter. The format students were expected to follow asked for the presenters to expose a researched topic o f their choice for about 30 minutes, and leave the rest o f class time to questions and discussion that emerged from the exposition. Presenters in general managed to stick to the 30 minute exposition period, and the remaining stage o f their A P was not so much in their hands exclusively, but it also depended on the number o f questions and comments generated by the audience. In most cases, the discussion period added another 55 minutes to the presentation, totalling an average length o f 82.7 minutes for A P s in this course (see Table 5.2). Table 5.2 A P Length - HIST 510 Shortest AP  46 minutes  Longest AP  100 minutes  Mean  82.7 minutes  For each A P , besides the presenter there was an appointed "moderator" who was in charge o f introducing the presenter and managing time (but who in most cases did not play a very active role in spite o f the instructors' original intention).  Usually there was one presenter per class, except for two cases in which two presenters (whose topics were very closely related), delivered their APs on the same date. 1 9  74  The presentation style followed by students in this course could be defined as moderately formal. For each A P , the audience would be seated around a group o f tables organized in a long rectangle, and the presenter would normally choose to be seated in a place equally distant to all other extremes of the table. The course instructors were the only members o f the audience who were always seated in the same place. The fact that presenters were seated (as opposed to standing in front of the audience) seemed to reduce the formality o f the task. Presenters were the center o f attention—throughout the exposition period the audience would look at them exclusively, and through the discussion period eye contact would go from the person who framed the question/made a comment to the presenter, back and forth, but still they could adopt a relaxed position by either leaning on a chair, or resting their arms on top o f the table. A simple detail such as this seemed to relax the classroom atmosphere, and in turn it also helped the presenter to reduce the level o f tension. A s for the kind o f register the presenters chose for their A P s , generally they combined both formal with more informal expressions, and presenters also took their time i f they did not find the exact wording to expose their thoughts (hence, short pauses o f five seconds between strings of speech by the presenter were not atypical). A s a further argument to sustain the claim that the degree o f formality was moderate in this course, it should be noted that even though presenters had a flexible time frame o f 30 minutes for the exposition o f their topic, there seemed to be no urgency to rush through concepts and main ideas. A s well, though presenters were not usually interrupted during this exposition period, in a few cases when clarification o f specific terminology or an idea was important, the audience did not hesitate to interrupt briefly.  75  5.2.2 APs in ANTH 610 For this course, students had to do what the instructor called "seminar presentations." According to the course outline, Seminars w i l l be based upon assigned articles for which all students w i l l read and prepare abstract summaries. Students w i l l take turns being responsible for presenting the main arguments and leading the class discussion. (Course outline, A N T H 610,p.l) Thus, in this course there was not to be a major A P , but rather a number o f smaller A P s performed by each student on each A P date. In the end, students were asked to give three different A P s i n this course: (a) a brief oral summary o f a book review; (b) an oral report o f research findings (from a fieldwork project); and (c) an oral summary o f a research proposal. For the purpose o f this study, I have focussed on A P s (b) and (c). W i t h regard to the regularity o f A P s , these were sporadic. N o pre-established dates were arranged, but these dates were agreed upon throughout the academic term. Hence, no tentative schedule for classroom presentations was available. Based on my own observations (see Table 5.3 for a detail of A P length in this course), and from input from interviews with student participants, in some cases presenters had a long time to present (about 25 minutes), while in other cases presenters were left with only a few minutes (around 7 minutes). Table 5.3 A P Length - A N T H 610 Shortest  6.8 minutes  Longest AP  25.2 minutes  Mean  11.5 minutes  When describing the time frame for A P s in this course, one participant tried to describe the parameters provided by the course instructor. In the participant's own words:  76  She [the course instructor] said - 'around this amount o f time, this is what I want you to include', in a very broad sort o f sense? Unfortunately, her estimations were inaccurate - i n terms of what was feasible? Even though she'd said T want you to prepare something for about 15 minutes', then she asked to - to respond for longer than that, so - i f you were in the beginning, you got half an hour for your presentation and questions, and then i f you were at the end, you got five minutes! So, there was a huge variation (...) That was not a great situation to be in. (Interview, Nicole, A N T H 610) The A P s in this course, according to my observations, were quite informal. Presenters were usually seated when presenting (instead of standing i n front o f the audience), some of them adopting a very relaxed position on the chair (e.g., resting their back on the chair, far away from the table, their legs crossed). Only in the case o f three A P s , where presenters were using transparencies, did they choose to stand in front o f the class. The students and instructors were usually seated around an irregular square-shaped cluster o f tables, the instructor always seated in the front p o s i t i o n . Even though A P s were perceived as a spe20  cific task where one student was in charge o f the talk, and the content to present was to be organized in a coherent and professional way (i.e., it was expected that students would incorporate i n their oral discourse the lexicon typical o f qualitative research methods discussed and introduced in this course), not all students seemed to enact the task in the same way. Hence, in some cases A P s were very informal (e.g., students not only seated in a very relaxed position, but also delivering their A P as just one more instance in which they talked in class, in a very casual way and giving the impression o f improvising most o f their talk); in other cases students were more selective o f the terminology used, the structure of their A P , and o f their postures and ways of addressing the audience. It should be noted that it was  Though there was no desk, there was a board on the wall, which helped determine this was the front of the classroom.  2 0  77  not only the students who adopted various levels of formality, but also the course instructor (who in some cases was also seated in a very relaxed way, with her arms above her shoulder, and her hands behind her neck; and who sometimes used very informal expressions to address the students, or cracked an ironic joke).  5.2.3 APs in FREN 600 M y observations o f A P s in F R E N 600 took place during the second module o f the course (weeks four to eight). Out o f the four classes in this module, two were devoted to the presentations. Consequently, A P s in this course were a two-time event that took place right in the middle o f the term. O n the first presentation date there were two presenters (a N N S and a N S ) , and on the second date there were three (two N N S s and one N S ) , but I observed only two o f these. The pre-established time frame for the A P s in this course was 15 minutes of delivery time plus some extra minutes devoted to discussion/questions generated by the audience. Accordingly, most presenters took an average o f 17.5 minutes to deliver their A P and the discussion period lasted an average o f three minutes (totalling 21.5 minutes for the whole A P , see Table 5.4).  Table 5.4 A P Length - F R E N 600 Shortest AP  19 minutes  Longest AP  23 minutes  Mean  21.3 minutes  One of the NSs requested specifically not to be observed, since she felt this would increase her level of nervousness.  78  Even though the course instructor had initially thought that the students in the audience would generate questions, this was not the case. In all four A P s I observed, the instructor took the lead and out o f the average three minutes o f discussion time, 2.3 minutes were exchanges between Dr. Hubert and the presenter. Only in two out o f the four A P s did students in the audience ask a question.  22  The style i n which A P s were performed could be identified as quite formal. Only one o f the presenters chose to stand in front o f the class to deliver her speech. The other three presenters I observed chose to remain seated as usual, around a square like cluster o f tables. In spite o f the less formal position (i.e., usually standing i n front o f the class adds a touch o f formality to the event, while remaining seated tends to decrease it), the quiet, silent classroom atmosphere and the brief but rather ceremonial introduction to presenters that the course instructor performed seemed to raise the level o f formality of the event. For instance, when the course instructor introduced Kalea's A P he emphasized the meta level o f the presentation, and referred to the presenter as an "expert" i n the topic: So, w e ' l l have two presentations today, one dealing with the topic o f structuralism. This is like research being done on researchers -1 suppose a lot o f structuralists would say that this is like a meta-meta level o f analysis. So, in any case, w e ' l l hand it on over directly to our expert today on this topic, Kalea. ( A P recording, Dr. Hubert, F R E N 600)  When asked about this in their interviews, participants indicated that due to the theoretical nature of the APs, it was very difficult for them to pose any questions for they were still in the process of internalizing the concepts exposed.  79  5.3 Underneath the Surface: Essential Aspects that Help Define APs in Arts A P s in the Faculty o f Arts did not share all o f the same surface features discussed above. H I S T 510 A P s were much longer than either A N T H 610 or F R E N 600 A P s . A s well, H I S T 510 A P s were ongoing whereas A N T H 610 A P s were a three-time event, and F R E N 600 A P s a two-time event. In none of the three cases A P s were strictly timed, and presenters did have some room to adjust the length of their A P according to their needs. While in H I S T 510 there would usually be one presenter per class and the A P would take the whole class period, in A N T H 610 all 11 course participants presented on the same date, and in F R E N 600 there were either two or three presenters per date. Yet, once again, there are many similarities that underlie the surface level o f A P s in the Faculty o f Arts. I w i l l examine some of these next.  5.3.1 The Content of APs Students in the Faculty o f Arts courses were expected to choose a topic o f interest to them and o f relevance to the course, and present it. Thus, in H I S T 510 students gave an A P that allowed them to share with the audience their knowledge on the chosen topic, and how much research they had done so far. In A N T H 610, given that this was a qualitative research methods course, all students were engaged in a common research project that involved some fieldwork experience. Though the research site was selected by the course instructor, students were free to choose which aspect o f the research site they were willing to research (applying their newly acquired knowledge on research methods, o f course). Hence, the A P s were a chance to share with the audience a piece o f the common, bigger  80  course research project. In F R E N 600 students were asked to pick a theoretical literary term, and research it thoroughly. In all three courses students would ultimately have to write a final paper/research proposal in which they would be able to incorporate some o f the ideas presented in their APs.  5.3.2 The Sequence Patterns of APs While sequence patterns in the Faculty o f Medicine can be more easily illustrated due to their more homogeneous nature, the same does not seem to apply to courses in the Faculty o f Arts. In this latter case, I would argue that the stages o f A P s i n all three courses were quite flexible and by no means lead to generalizations. Thus, my attempt to visually illustrate the sequence patterns below is simply to provide an example o f two sequences (see Figures 5.1 and 5.2). I have not attempted to include a diagram with the sequence for A N T H 610 given that A P s in this course were less structured around a common pattern.  Topic introduction  Presenter's background on the topic  (Open) conclusion  Ideas for discussion in final paper  Sources consulted  Main questions and arguments  Question/ discussion period  Figure 5.1 A P Sequence - HIST 510 81  v  Topic introduction: definition of concept J  Analysis of concept  Question period  4>  Application of] concept examples  r  A  Conclusion (re-statement of main notions associated with concept)  Figure 5.2 A P Sequence - F R E N 600  O f course, all presentations did have a clear beginning (introduction), body (where main ideas were presented and developed), and a final concluding stage. However, while in Medicine courses conclusions were expressed in a straightforward manner, in Arts courses conclusions were notorious for their characteristic openness and degree o f tentativeness. In H I S T 510 A P s , students finished their presentations with thoughts that challenged the audience and provoked discussion; the same applies to A N T H 610 A P s , though in this case the discussion sometimes took place i n the middle of the A P . In F R E N 600 APs, on the other hand, given the theoretical nature o f the presentation topics, there was not much chance for discussion about the topic itself, but rather about aspects o f the topic that the presenter would include in his/her final paper.  5.3.3 The Purpose(s) of APs The main goal A P s fulfilled i n Arts courses was to provide students a chance to "play with ideas" and share them with an audience who would most probably have a keen interest in these ideas. To H I S T 510 instructors, A P s seemed to represent a good chance for  82  students to relate their personal interests to a more global history (i.e., show how their personal interests were embedded or related to broader interests i n the field). Thus, A P s in H I S T 510 were a chance to create a space for interaction and discussion. Similarly, A P s in A N T H 610 existed on order to "provide an appropriate environment to generate discussion and active participation (...) To constructively criticize each others' work" ( A N T H 610 course outline, p . l ) . While discussion was also one o f the A P purposes in F R E N 600 (at least this was so stated by the course instructor), this did not necessarily occur. A P s in this course fulfilled the purpose o f engaging students in doing research and practicing researching skills (such as consulting different sources and condensing/combining information). In all three courses the common purpose o f asking students to generate ideas o f their own was encouraged and expected. In addition to these declared purposes of A P s , students also viewed presentations as a chance to practice oral/practical skills that they needed to familiarize themselves with in order to fully function in their communities. Both N S s and N N S s concurred that A P s represented a great chance to improve their presentation skills: I - It is good for me to do- to practice presentation because I can practice for my future - when I go to confe- international conference and I have to present my research. So it's good to do it here - that I learn. (Interview, A N T H 610, Sachiko, N N S ) .  A student (NS) also mentioned that A P s were a good idea (even though she would enjoy not having to do them) because they forced students to make up their minds (a purpose also mentioned by a N R S C 605 student): I think presentations are a good idea. I don't enjoy them, so I would be fine with not having to do one ((laughs)), but I think it's good for- it's good for me  83  - certainly it's just a good way of- having to present something to the course - because it really makes it come clear in my mind and makes it-you have to really decide what you 're gonna say and figure out a coherent argument because you know that people are gonna call you on it if it doesn't make sense, whereas if you 're just reading on your own, and coming put with stuff it doesn't necessarily have to be that clear. (Interview, M y r i a m , H I S T 510) To M i k e (a student who regularly worked as a lawyer), presentations in H I S T 510 were characterized by the level o f speculation presenters could exercise, and this was an aspect he specially appreciated from this kind o f presentation: U h , m y regular - my regular day job is a lawyer, so -1 -1 have to make pre-, sentations in terms o f advocacy? (...) so - so you have to make presentations. But - it's much more formal than here, often. One thing I like about - being in school as opposed to making presentations in work is that you can be more speculative. (Interview, M i k e , H I S T 510)  Leslie, an A N T H 610 student, found A P s a good chance to practice a skill that is o f high demand i n her field. In fact, since she had worked at museums and sometimes as a tour guide, she felt that she needed good presentation skills in order to be employable: If you're doing anthropology, or something like that at the graduate level then you 11 likely be put in these situations where you 're gonna have to go to conferences and present papers, and - a lot ofprofessions you have to do oral presentations? So, you'd better get used to them at school, and maybe get a little polished on how you do it, you know, and - because, for me, like going to school - like, I want to get a job once I ' m done. (...) So you need to have some of those types of skills - to make you employable? (Interview, Leslie, A N T H 610)  To N N S s , A P s also represented a good chance to "speak out" as well as to practice the English.language. For some things, it's very good practice for me to speak out? During class discussion it's very difficult to - participate in discussion? But if we have a presentation -1 can prepare and I can say something! ((laughs)) Class 84  presentation is good opportunity to practice. And also -1 can practice to improve - English language? Y e s -1 need this too. (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610)  We can thus also identify several purposes behind the A P task in the Faculty of Arts: to stimulate discussion and provide an appropriate environment for this; to allow students to practice presentation skills; to encourage students to make up their minds; and to provide a chance for N N S s to practice the English language and to give them the opportunity to "speak out" in front o f the class (something many N N S s have problems doing).  5.3.4 Discourse Features of APs Students taking courses in the Faculty of Arts were expected to orally communicate their thoughts and points o f view. Hence, articulation o f ideas through verbal communication was key to determining the students' success not only in their A P s , but also in the remaining required tasks. The kind o f language features students in Arts needed to be familiar with in order to express themselves through oral discourse were closer to the kind o f everyday language speech employed by people outside the discipline, technical language apparently being less pervasive in Arts than in Medicine (or Applied Science, see Chapter 6) courses. Idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms, and personal anecdotes were usually present (or expected) in A P s . Though this may seem to be an advantage for those who speak English as a second language, it may end up being a disadvantage. This issue w i l l be addressed in the sections that follow.  85  5.3.4.1 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Perceived Through Observations I was able to observe three N N S s i n H I S T 510, one i n A N T H 610, and two in F R E N 600. Some of their personal histories share many similarities, while others are quite distinctive. Still, what all six N N S s have in common is the fact that English is not their mother tongue, and this inevitably impacts (at different levels) the way they are able to express themselves in tasks such as A P s . (a) Alexei, a student from Russia in his early 30s, seemed to be comfortable expressing himself in English. H i s Russian accent, though still perceptible after five years o f using English actively in an English speaking environment, was almost imperceptible. It was evident to the audience that Alexei had thoroughly prepared his talk; his written notes—which he glanced at from time to time—attested to this fact. He spoke in a loud voice, maintaining eye contact with the audience, and establishing rapport with his peers and instructors through the use o f humorous comments or personal anecdotes (e.g., when A l e x e i started his A P he pointed to his t-shirt that had the phrase modern simplicity written on it. He explained to the audience that he was not wearing the t-shirt by accident, and continued with a number o f reasons associated with the topic o f his talk that justified his choice o f garment). Yet, in spite of his evident confidence, there were a few instances in his A P where A l e x e i struggled to express himself clearly. For instance, in one case he started his argument and half way stopped talking, took a couple o f seconds, and then looked for confirmation among the audience to see whether the English grammatical structure he was employing made sense.  (b) Nasrin came from Iran, and had lived in an English speaking environment for only a few months. She was also i n her early 30s, and i n spite o f her limited experience living i n a foreign country, she impressed people with her straightforward style of talk, and her secure tone o f voice. Her A P was no different from the usual way Nasrin expressed herself in the class, though her shaky voice at the beginning, and her lack o f eye contact with the audience most o f the time evidenced her nervousness. Nasrin seemed to feel quite comfortable presenting in her L 2 , and she employed a few strategies (like preparing for herself a seven-page handout which she glanced at from time to time to check whether she had gone over all the points) that obviously worked for her. Still, in spite o f Nasrin's fluency in speech and her apparent comfortable use o f her L 2 , more than once she seemed to have trouble when trying to find the appropriate expression in English. This may be associated with the fact that English was her second language, and thus certain words or expressions did not occur to her as spontaneously as they may occur i n her L I . However, this is m y speculation.  86  (c) China was Chao's home country, which he left about two years earlier in order to become an international student in Canada. O f the three N N S s in H I S T 510, Chao was the one with the weakest L 2 linguistic abilities, and this was perceived by all . people i n the course. H i s strong Chinese accent and intonation, his introverted style of talk, and his long pauses prevented Chao many times from being clearly understood or followed in his speech. Chao had also prepared a written handout for himself, but he almost ignored it, choosing to rely mainly on his memory. Even though his A P was successful (i.e., he managed to maintain the audience's attention, and was able to pass his message across), his lack o f linguistic proficiency at times brought h i m trouble.  (d) The N N S in A N T H 610, Sachiko, was a female student in her early 30s who came from Japan. Sachiko had spent four years in the U S A while studying at an American university, and by the time I observed her giving her A P s (I was able to observe her in two instances), she had been in Canada for a couple o f months. Sachiko usually chose to remain quiet during class time (unless directly asked a question/opinion by the course instructor). For her A P s , Sachiko chose to read aloud her handout: she read in a loud, clear voice, and from time to time looked at the audience, rarely pausing to make any comments or to expand on any of the points in her handout. A s a listener, at times it was not easy to follow Sachiko: her mispronunciation o f quite a few words and her awkward intonation patterns were the main reasons that prevented the audience from understanding her clearly. However, what seemed to be the hardest aspect o f A P s for Sachiko was not the delivery act in itself, but rather coping with the questions she was asked by the audience.  (e) Kalea was born i n Greece but had lived i n Canada for the past thirty years (half her life). She held a degree in Management and Marketing, and thus was very familiar with the A P genre. Kalea's English was very fluent, and her vocabulary very rich. Though she had a strong Greek accent in her speech, she pronounced words correctly and it was not difficult to follow her. It was evident from the fast pace in which she delivered her A P that Kalea had carefully prepared her talk. Once Kalea concluded the delivery part o f her A P , she was asked a couple o f questions by the course instructor. Although Kalea did not seem to have any major linguistic difficulties when speaking English, it was in this type o f instances that she actually seemed to experience certain level o f difficulty i n finding the appropriate lexical terms or expressions she was looking for i n order to express the ideas she had i n mind.  (f) Annette was a N N S of English born in Quebec. She grew up in a French-speaking environment, and was not formally exposed to English until the age o f 20.1 was actually not able to tell Annette was a N N S from the way she spoke: She seemed to have mastered the English language, her fluency, intonation, accent, and spontaneity equaled those o f English native speakers. Hence, from m y observations I could not discern any o f the struggles that Annette went through while doing her A P in 87  English. It was only after I interviewed her that I became aware o f some o f the limitations Annette felt giving her A P in her L 2 .  The six N N S s I have briefly referred to above seemed to experience linguistic difficulties at different levels. Some o f them were in fact highly proficient English speakers (e.g., Alexei, Nasrin, Kalea, and Annette), to whom presenting i n their L 2 did not seem to cause them much trouble. For instance, in Nasrin's case, her talk included many instances of appraisal and personal judgments, also commonly used by N S s o f English: I have a very famous quotation by Marx, which I like very much (...) I looked at the definition o f rights by [name o f author]. I liked it because it is not based on moral principles, and it's totally objective (...) I think a big mistake many authors make is that they ignore Hobbs. ( A P recordings, Nasrin, H I S T 510) She also made use of a personal anecdotes, thus bridging the gap between her (the presenter) and the audience: "I was about to change topic when I came across in the library —totally by accident—this book by [name of author] and then I decided that I wanted to stick to my original topic" ( A P recordings). Still, in spite o f Nasrin's fluency i n speech and her apparent comfortable use o f her L 2 , more than once she seemed to have trouble when trying to find the appropriate expression i n English: "I -1 don't know how to say this in Englishit's like when you-1 know there is a very common way o f saying this, but I don't remember it" ( A P recording). Though this may not be a serious problem—after all, many N S s also rephrase their speech without being perceived as poorly prepared or less language proficient, in Nasrin's case it seemed to affect her at a personal level by lowering her self-esteem (refer to next section). Chao and Sachiko, on the other hand, were among the N N S presenters whose L 2 language proficiency seemed to be weaker. In Chao's case, he was aware (and worried) 88  about the interference o f his Chinese accent. He even excused himself in front o f the audience for this: "Maybe m y - accent will disturb you, but I hope you can understand it" ( A P fieldnotes, Chao, H I S T 510). In addition, Chao sometimes struggled to phrase his opinions clearly enough, and tried to rephrase his idea several times before he seemed satisfied: "Chinese labor is regarded - is very low - is - have very low salaries, very low wage." ( A P fieldnotes). In another case, during the discussion period, one o f the course instructors asked him a question, but Chao was initially unable to respond because he did not understand one o f the words in the question: Dr. Kovak: I'd like to throw in a comparison. Were the Chinese recruited in Siberia as indentured workers? Chao: A s what? Louise: In-den-tured. Dr. Kovak: Indentured, contracted. Chao: O h , contract, ok ( A P fieldnotes, H I S T 510)  It took a while and some amount o f explanation until Chao was able to identify the meaning o f the question. This example illustrates but one o f the instances in which Chao was obviously at a disadvantage when compared to his peers (even when compared to his more English language proficient N N S s ) . Sachiko seemed to have the greatest trouble when members o f the audience asked her something. For instance, on one occasion the course instructor wanted to know where Sachiko situated herself within her proposed research project. D r . Evans asked her: "Where is your voice here?"  23  W i t h a puzzling expression in her face, Sachiko remained silent and  Sachiko made reference to this episode in her interview, which actually confirms what we witnessed as part of the audience (see next section).  89  did not know exactly how to tackle the question. " Y o u r voice, where does it come from?" asked Dr. Evans once more, thinking Sachiko had not heard the question. But actually, Sachiko had not understood the question. In another case, D r . Evans asked her: "Where are you?" A n d Sachiko adopted her puzzled look once more. The instructor then rephrased her question: "Where do you situate yourself in this research?". Relieved, Sachiko commented: "Oh, I understand. O h , I see" and she went on responding the instructor's request. ( A P fieldnotes). In sum, as perceived from my observations o f A P s , N N S s seemed to experience linguistic difficulties while delivering their A P s . In the next section I w i l l refer to the presenters' perception o f their A P s , and to how these complement m y views.  5.3.4.2 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Reported by Presenters What I was able to observe did not necessarily tell the whole story about what was going on inside each presenter's mind. Thus, data from the interviews held with participants allows us access to what these N N S s felt when preparing for and delivering their A P s . In spite o f A l e x e i ' s apparent level o f comfort presenting, when asked i f the fact that he speaks English as his L 2 would affect the A P i n any way, he responded: Sure. N o matter how many - years you learn a foreign- English language in this case, I've been using it actively probably for more than five years? Still there are certain colloquial things and traditions of education which it takes some timefor-you knowfor you as non native speaker to catch on. For example, I didn't do my undergrad, or I didn't go to high school in North America, so certain things, you know, talking about vocabulary, talking about terms, talking about (1) definitions which are very simple for the native speakers, for you it may take some time to double check them to go to the dictionary. So I think that it adds a little bit to the nervousness, especially i f you are doing a presentation for the first time. (Interview, A l e x e i , H I S T 510)  90  A l e x e i felt that even though he had been using English in an active way for over five years, there were still certain things he had not been able to fully master (e.g., colloquial expressions). A s well, he usually needed to double check words in the dictionary (something he assumed N S s do not necessarily have to do). A l l this added to the level of nervousness any presenter would usually have before an A P . H e pointed out not only the question of learning the English language, but also what he referred to as "traditions o f education". B y this he meant the way in which members o f the academic community usually interact and behave; and this, he said, takes time to learn. In spite o f her apparent level o f comfort, Nasrin felt that presenting in English entailed certain limitations: I always feel that - it's just - it takes more time to prepare it. A n d - also - uh -I think the other problem is -uh- you always want to make sure that - the topic you choose, and the things you want to say - are the things you can handle? giving your - linguistic abilities? sort of, you know like you know - your own limits. So, it limits you, definitely. (...) But, still I think, since you can't - like vow can't think very complex issues - in a second language - unless you really know that language very well, and you know enough verbs, enough abstract words. - Otherwise you are like sort of more - you have to stick to your very simple ideas? you know? (Interview, Nasrin, H I S T 510)  For Nasrin, i n order to successfully present in English she needed to be sure she was able to cope linguistically with the topic o f her A P . In addition, English constrained her because she felt that it was harder to express complex issues i n her L 2 . So, even though Nasrin sounded quite natural and at ease i n her A P , there were many issues (some o f them associated with her language "limitations") that Nasrin felt had an impact on her A P , and that made her feel not prepared enough with respect to her language abilities.  91  Chao was completely aware o f the challenges o f giving an A P in English. A s a N N S , he felt his A P was below his standard, for he was not able to employ language in the way he normally does in Chinese. When asked whether his presentation would have been any different i f had he done it in his L I , he responded: O f course! O h , ya. A lot o f difference, huge difference. Because, if I do presenting in Chinese, Ican(a) use very - soph-sophisticate meaning? - to express my idea. But right now I have to use very simple but clear word to express myself. If I uh- if I use a very simple word -1 would be definitely loose some(a) - some(a) subtle meaning - some subtle meaning. So that was my - that I worry about. So, in the social science discipline, or humanity discipline, i f the scholar or student can't express themself freely -1 think his paper or his presentation - wouldn't be very popular. I don't think so. (Interview, Chao, H I S T 510)  Chao was worried because he was not able to express complex ideas in English in an appropriate way. H e felt that in Chinese he was able to use sophisticated language, while in English he was limited to simple words (thus loosing subtle meanings).With regards to this last point, Chao further added that: Other people can - express their - i n a very - in a very effective way - very -uh - can express very subtle meaning. They can very freely express themselves - they can explain what they thought! But, in my case I can't freely express what happen to myself. I need some(a) - need to - express some idea. If I can't directly express in the Chinese language, I have to - at first I have to think about in the Chinese way, and then translate it into the English. So, in this process of the translation - some of the subtle meaning was lost. So, that is a big problem. (Interview, Chao, H I S T 510)  Since Chao was not able to express all his ideas completely freely in English (due to his linguistic gaps), he was sometimes forced to translate ideas from Chinese to English. In this process, the complexity o f his ideas was not maintained, and thus Chao felt that this was a problem.  92  Chao's linguistic difficulties were not obvious to h i m exclusively, but also to his peers. One o f his classmates mentioned in the interview (which took place prior to Chao's A P ) that he thought nobody would be asking harsh questions, but that peers and instructors would rather ask Chao something in very simple terms and leave it up to h i m to elaborate on ideas: Y a , I could sympathize with some of their difficulties. (...) Actually, I have a lot of admiration for Nasrin, for Alexei, for Chao, and so. A n d - it's got to be difficult to -1 think - not just for his presentation - but - uh -1 think we '11 treat his [Chao's] presentation with a lot more respect - next week. I think as a group -1 speculate - w e ' l l be very considerate. I don't believe anybody will ask him anything too complex - linguistically. I think if we ask him questions, they will be very simple ones that he can elaborate on. Not easy ones, but linguistically simple. (Interview, M i k e , H I S T 510)  When H I S T 510 course instructors were asked i f they made a distinction between N S s and N N S s , one o f them expressed: W e l l , we're certainly aware o f it, and then, how do you - how do you objectively deal with it? You probably don't - probably don't. (Interview, Dr. Kovak, H I S T 510)  Thus, it can be argued that it was not only N N S s themselves who felt the limitations of presenting in an L 2 , but these also were perceived by the other members o f the community of practice. When I asked the course instructors i f they were able to help N N S s in some way, they said that they certainly could. However, for this particular course in which L 2 students were enrolled, they found it almost impossible to act as language "coaches"  24  due  to the large number o f students in it.  Both HIST 510 course instructors mentioned in their interviews that if the number of students in the course were smaller, they would be able to assist students with issues related to their oral skills.  2 4  93  Sachiko, the Japanese student in A N T H 610, said that she ordinarily needed more time than native speakers in order to read materials. But this seemed not to be the most difficult aspect o f presenting in English. Actually, since she usually read aloud her presentation, she felt quite secure during the delivery stage o f her A P . The greatest challenge (associated with her linguistic knowledge) seemed to be the kind o f spontaneous talk that emerges during or after an A P . When asked i n the interview what part o f the A P made her more nervous, Sachiko responded: Sachiko: When they ask me questions! Because I often can't understand what they are asking to me! ((nervous laughter)) Sandra: Y o u cannot hear? Or you cannot understand? Sachiko: Both! ((small laughs)). And I hate it to ask several times - and the first time, Dr. Evans's presentation she gave me question - and she ask me "what did your voice come from? " [actually the question was "Where is your voice here?"] And I thought - 'cause I tried to speak in a loud voice, so - different form ordinary usual voice, so she was asking "how I make my voice louder"' - and I asked again and she told me again, but even so I didn 't get exactly, so I thought I need to give some answer. (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610)  5.4 Qualities Promoted in the Faculty of Arts A m o n g the qualities valued and promoted in the Faculty o f Arts, through m y observations o f class presentations, and through input from research participants in their interviews, I would argue that members o f the community o f practice o f Arts needed to appropriate the qualities summarized in Figure 5.3:  94  engage audience by making A P interactive/ two-way communication generate plenty of class discussion  be sensitive to the audience evidence expertise on the topic without sounding presumptuous  speak clearly and slowly; be articulate  <<W)  include personal opinion / be tentative  use visuals when necessary be concise and precise, but also be able to elaborate on ideas  Figure 5.3 A P Qualities Valued in the Faculty of Arts A s well, presenters needed to avoid the following behaviors (see Figure 5.4):  repetition of ideas/concepts  pretend to be/sound like an expert  choose a topic that is not of interest to the audience  Figure 5.4 A P Behaviors Discouraged in the Faculty of Arts  While some o f the qualities and behaviors valued and promoted in the Faculty of Arts were identical to those in the Faculty of Medicine, the main difference between both  95  discourse communities seemed to lie in the fact that while interaction between the presenter and the audience was highly expected in Arts, this was not necessarily the case in Medicine. In addition, students i n the Faculty o f Arts were expected to present an argument they supported, but they were not expected to have definite answers or solutions (something that students in Medicine were most likely to come up with i n their presentations). Thus, as students of Arts, ideas presented tended to be more tentative in nature, and interaction between presenters and the audience generally occurred as a means o f sharing opinions and exchanging points o f view. Similarly to what occurred with some students in the Faculty o f Medicine, not all students were able to behave according to the expected rules. In the case o f Chris, a N S o f H I S T 510, he started off his presentation trying to speak without referring to his notes. However, in the course o f the A P he was forced to rely heavily on his notes, and ended up reading most o f the A P and finishing it with an abrupt comment: [reading through his notes in silence, while the audience remained quiet waiting for h i m to go on] "I know there is a lot more to talk about, but I ' l l leave it here. I ' l l open it up to questions." ( A P recording, Chris, H I S T 510) In his interview, Chris mentioned that originally he had intended to pretend as i f he knew what he was talking about and speak spontaneously, glancing from time to time at his notes. This was actually the type o f presentation he thought he was expected to do. However, as he started his A P he realized he was not ready to "wing it," and thus ended up relying heavily on his written handout: W e l l , before I did my presentation -1 knew that I was gonna have to wing it - so to speak. And then during the presentation, I realized that -1 didn't know enough to wing it, so I was gonna have to read it. So, uhm, ya / realized I wasn 't prepared - a few hours before the actual presentation. A n d then - that was just pronounced - as I  96  was doing the presentation -1 was thinking - "I don't really know what I ' m talking about" (Interview, Chris, H I S T 510)  It was obvious to the audience that Chris was having a hard time while presenting: he paused on several occasions, and spent a few seconds reading through his notes in silence, and then went on reading aloud part o f his handout. H i s facial expression looked tense, and he barely made eye contact with the audience. When the discussion period arrived, Chris did not seem extremely eager to respond to questions promptly; instead he chose to leave other members o f the audience a chance to answer first. So this was a case of a student who was aware o f the expected values promoted i n the community, but who (apparently) failed to conform to them. In the case o f Sachiko (NNS), she was aware that her classmates employed a presentation style that involved more casual, extemporaneous talk. However, she recognized she was not able to present in the same way as most o f her N S peers did, and thus she needed to read from her paper (handout). Even trying to make eye contact was hard for her: (...) 'cause I cannot present improvisation ((small laughs)). So Ineed to write down in paper, like ordinary paper? A n d - it's a fifteen minutes presentation, so I needed to write - two and a half pages, single space paper? (...) It's easier for me to read, 'cause if I try -1 try to eye contact or that kind of thing, I need to memorize? I skip long sentences. (( small laughs)) (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610)  I asked Sachiko i f she thought her presentation style and her classmates' style differed. When she responded, she also provided reasons why this was so. A n d i n relation to these motifs, she also mentioned how difficult it was for her to participate in class discussions, mainly because in Japan students are not encouraged to "interrupt" the speaker.  97  'Cause - in America or Canada -1 heard the children- student are encouraged - to speak out from childhood? So, ya I think that I noticed some o f the - American Canadian people very quiet? But, basically, I guess they're get used to express their thinking - orally? M u c h more than Japanese. Y a . W e - in Japan - during the class - usually we don't do discussion, and we are supposed to do just listening to the teachers talking. And if I- we have question, we need to raise hand - and we- we: uh - we are discouraged to interrupt? teachers talking or other students talking. So it's very difficult for me when - when other people are talking, and it's difficult to interrupt. (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610)  In Chao's case, I observed that he usually chose to keep silent during the discussion period o f A P s unless he was asked a direct question. From what he shared with me, a combination o f his schooling background and his lack o f English proficiency prevented him from participating as much as he wished to. Thus, we can conclude that for students like Sachiko and Chao, it was not only a matter of linguistic difficulties, but also of having trouble adjusting to the Canadian classroom culture. Once again, students were immersed in a process o f double socialization.  5.5 Strategies Employed by Presenters A s i n the case o f students in the Faculty of Medicine, students i n the Faculty of Arts also resorted to specific preparation and delivery strategies with the aim o f being successful presenters.  5.5.1 Preparation Strategies Prepare an outline and rehearse it orally Nasrin ( N N S ) mentioned in the interview that she had made an outline for herself, and she admitted having rehearsed the A P once—even though she hated doing this. Were she to give the same presentation in Farsi (her mother tongue), she said she would only have 98  looked for key terms. However, since this A P was i n her L 2 , she had to make sure beforehand that she did actually "have enough" for it. Annette ( N N S ) did something very similar, too. In order to increase her confidence, she wrote down a handout and then read it aloud a few times, pretending there was somebody listening to her. Although she did not read during her A P , the act o f reading her handout beforehand several times seemed to help her. Alexei, Chao, Kalea, and Sachiko all said that they had prepared a handout for themselves, without which they would have felt incredibly nervous (even confused) during the presentation. A s Sachiko expressed in her own words: Yes. / know these many other student - written down points on the note - they can present - their own word? But, ya, as I said if I do so, I soon feel very confused! So ((laughs)), and so always I -1 write down? what I - what I ' m going to say - on a paper. (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610)  Interestingly enough, while all N N S s claimed to have carefully prepared a handout for their A P s and later rehearsed it orally, most N S s did not seem to feel the need to do so. Only those N S s who confessed being "nervous by nature" were the ones that went through their notes (but not complete text, for they did not write down such a thing). However, none of the N S s went through the notes "orally"; instead they chose to think about all the steps and content in their A P s , and this seemed to work for them. Choose a topic that interests the audience Chao realized that one o f the keys to engaging the audience was to choose a topic that matched their interest. So, even though Chao would have probably wished to do research on a slightly different topic (one more related to his background i n A s i a n history), 99  he decided to talk about something "both sides have interest i n " (Interview, Chao, H I S T 510). Prepare well in advance Students in all three courses mentioned that they started preparing their A P s ahead of time. Preparation was identified as one o f the main strategies to ensure success during the presentation, and thus students tried to devote several hours (an average o f 15 hours in H I S T 510, ten in A N T H 610, and five in F R E N 600) to thinking about the organization o f their A P s .  2 5  In general, N N S s spent a larger amount of time than their N S peers. According  to L 2 speakers, preparation usually takes more time for them just because they have to either double-check meanings in the dictionary (something N S s are less prone to do), or because they need to reorganize their thoughts in English (because they tend to think originally in their L I ) .  5.5.2 Delivery Strategies Pose questions/include controversy Since discussion is so much valued in a course such as H I S T 510, students mentioned that they had purposefully included some statements that would inspire controversial responses. In Alexei's own words, Yes, uh, I think I included extreme statements, you know about - about A s i a from a European point. A n d vice versa, to show, you know, to show the contrast, again as being positive for discussion, you know as being something to push them to think it - over. (Interview, A l e x e i , H I S T 510)  I am not taking into consideration the amount of time students spent doing preliminary research or reading through materials.  2 5  100  Include a personal anecdote/a note of humor Some participants also made use of humorous comments (or at least comments that they intended to sound humorous) in order to capture the audience's attention and keep them entertained. For instance, M i k e (NS) made fun o f himself (by joking about his "lawyer" style o f organizing things) right at the beginning o f his A P . This served as an ice breaker for him, and was also a strategy that brought h i m closer to the audience who laughed in sympathy. Carolyn (NS) justified her choice o f topic by saying that I chose to do a historiographical study because it seems to be a hot topic today. A n d besides, I liked the sound of it\ [audience erupts in laughter] It's world history! It's comparative! [more laughter] (AP recording, Carolyn, H I S T 510)  Carolyn knew that none o f the reasons she was giving for choosing that topic was to be taken seriously by the audience. She purposely chose to say so in order to relax the atmosphere o f the A P , and she certainly succeeded in doing so. Genie (NS), a student in A N T H 610, had prepared two overhead transparencies for her A P . When she placed the first one on the overhead projector, she realized that she had written them using a very small font size. Instead o f disregarding this detail, or excusing herself, she said: "I guess I ' l l need to pay a visit to my optometrist any time soon!" ( A P fieldnotes, Genie, A N T H 610), to which the audience reacted with laughter. I already mentioned how A l e x e i had chosen to wear a T-shirt with a phrase related to his A P , and how he made a comment about this. A n d Nasrin chose to tell the audience how she had almost changed her mind about the topic she had chosen, but when she came across a great book she finally decided to stick to her original topic. There was no need for  101  either A l e x e i or Nasrin to make any o f those comments; still, they worked in their favor since both A l e x e i and Nasrin later revealed to me that those comments had helped them to relax. Chao and Sachiko, on the other hand, chose not to include any personal anecdotes or humorous comments in their A P s . When I asked them about this, they responded that "I cannot make joke -1 get lost i f I try to! (...) In Japan we don't do joke i n formal presentation, but here I see people are happy about joke! I can't." (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610). Or "That's not for me - in this presentation. (...) Not my style -1 don't think so, no." (Interview, Chao, H I S T 510) While it was not the case that all N S s included a note o f humor in their A P s , and while personality plays a crucial role in how speakers organize their talk, the linguistic factor and the cultural background also influence the content o f what students choose to include, and the way they do it. Alexei, Nasrin, Kalea, and Annette had all been exposed to the A P genre either in their home country or i n Canada for a while. Conversely, Sachiko and Chao were relatively new to this kind o f task, and still needed to learn more about how it usually worked in their corresponding discourse communities. Avoid use of technical language Presenters i n the Faculty o f Arts, as opposed to presenters i n Medicine or Applied Science (see Chapter 6), tried to avoid using technical language. O f course this does not mean that terminology specific to the corresponding disciplines was to be avoided, but in general presenters chose to avoid employing technical language i n their presentations, and left it instead for their written reports.  102  Choosing order of A P Some students did not specifically mind about the order in which their A P was scheduled. O n the contrary, other students (such as Chao), intentionally asked to have his A P at the end o f the course, alluding to the fact that he would not be able to prepare well enough i f he presented at the beginning: / don 't like to present in the beginning. Just in the beginning / can't do read a lot of material, lean'tfully prepare for my topic. It would bejust a very poor prepared presentation - and that's - that's not the way I ' m doing things. (Interview, Chao, H I S T 510)  In the case o f Sachiko, the opposite occurred. She chose to be among the first presenters o f the day i n order to get " r i d " o f her A P as soon as possible: '"Cause, I feel nervous, so i f I have longer time - to wait for my turn, and during all that time I need to keep -1 feel nervous, so I just wanted to get rid o f it!" (Interview, Sachiko, A N T H 610) Use visuals The use o f visuals in the Faculty o f Arts was not pervasive (at least i n the three courses I had access to). In H I S T 510, none of the students chose to employ overhead transparencies, and the only visuals that students used in their A P were photocopies o f a map (in Chao's presentation). According to participants, visuals are not commonly used in social sciences or humanities courses: It looks like it's possible to get away without visual aids, in history, because i f you talk about ideas, i f you talk about historical facts. But I think it could be a good addition i f you're using for example maps, or some graphs. (Interview, A l e x e i , H I S T 510)  103  In A N T H 610, only three out of the 11 students i n the course chose to use overhead transparencies. Another kind o f visual employed in this course was photographs. One of 26  the A N T H 610 students mentioned that she did not like overhead transparencies very much, but that photographs made a nice kind o f visual that the audience could actually touch and have i n their hands. In F R E N 600, only one o f the students made use o f overhead transparencies; another student made a diagram on the chalkboard, a third student brought a concrete object to pass around, and the fourth student did not rely on any visuals to enhance his A P . In short, students in the Faculty o f Arts seemed to be less fond o f overhead transparencies, chose to use them only in cases were they thought no other form o f visual would be better, and considered other alternatives to illustrate their talks i n a concrete way. A s in the case o f students in the Faculty o f Medicine, students i n the Faculty o f Arts also resorted to a variety o f preparation and delivery strategies that they employed before and during their A P s . A comparison o f these strategies across fields can be found in chapter 7.  It should be noted, however, that students realized the equipment in the class was not working properly. When the first student prepared overheads, she finally decided not to use them after trying the projector and finding out it made too much noise. Students were thus discouraged from using overhead transparencies.  104  APs IN THE FACULTY OF APPLIED SCIENCE  Although I'm feel nervous in presenting, but I love presentation. So I enjoy watching other people-presentation, and I learn from them. (Interview, Viet, EECE  510)  6.1 Situating the Task Nearing the end ofWinter term I, students in the two Electrical and Computer Engineering ( E E C E ) courses I observed in the Faculty o f Applied Science were getting ready for their A P s . There were five students taking E E C E 512, and three taking E E C E 510, all of them N N S s . I was able to observe and tape record all eight A P s ,  2 7  and later interviewed  six o f the students. Dr. Okinishi was the course instructor for E E C E 510; he had taught the course for more than four years, and had employed A P s as a means o f assessment since the previous year. D r . Gomez was a visiting professor who came to teach this course in his area of specialty. Both instructors were N N S s , whereas all instructors o f the courses observed in the Faculty o f Medicine and the Faculty of Arts were N S s .  77  I observed eight different APs, two of which were given by the same student (Luxin) who was taking both courses. Hence, there were seven different students in total enrolled in both courses, and I interviewed six of these. In relation to APs, I wonder whether or not the fact that course instructors in both E E C E courses were NNSs implied that their A P standards were different from those of NS instructors. After all, NNS instructors themselves might have had difficulties similar to the ones their students experienced. I believe this topic warrants closer examination. 2 8  105  Classes in both courses were held once a week, for a three-hour period each time. A P s in both courses took place on one date (the last day of classes), and thus they were seen as a one-time event. Other tasks students were required to do are detailed in Table 6.1: Table 6.1 Course  Faculty of Applied Science Tasks Tasks  Grade%  E E C E 510  oral presentation final project (written report) assignments  20% 50% 30%  E E C E 512  oral presentations final project (written report) assignments  15% 55% 30%  A P s in both courses represented between 15% and 20% o f their final course grade. A s can be seen from the table, students in both courses were requested to do very similar kinds o f tasks.  6.2 On the Surface Level: Descriptive Features of APs in Applied Science 6.2.1 APs in E E C E 510 In this course, all three students presented their work on the same date: the last day of classes. Although students were not specifically told in advance how much time they had to present the A P , on the day of the presentation the course instructor asked students to talk for about 20 minutes, and then leave a few minutes (around 10) for a question p e r i o d .  29  However, time frames were not strictly taken into account (see Table 6.2):  It was clear from the observations that the time frame had not been clearly stated by the course instructor. The first presenter (Farid) was in the middle of his A P when he checked with the instructor how much time he had. When the instructor replied: "well, for the presentation 20 minutes, so you have five minutes left" (AP recording, Dr. Okinishi, E E C E 510), Farid responded that he thought they had 30 minutes for the delivery, and thus now he would have to rush.  106  Table 6.2  A P Length - E E C E 510  Shortest AP  19 minutes  Longest AP  34 minutes 24.3 minutes  Mean  While Farid took 34 minutes to present, Viet and L u x i n took 20 and 19 minutes respectively. Hence, A P length in this course was variable. A l l presenters chose to stand i n front o f the class (probably due to the fact that they were all employing overhead transparencies). Although there was a very small number o f students and they all claimed to know each other, when two o f the presenters started their A P they did so i n a rather formal, formulaic way: "Good afternoon Dr. Okinishi and my fellow students. Thank you forjoining  my presentation. " ( A P recording, L u x i n , E E C E 510)  Likewise, Viet opened up his speech as follows: "Thank you my fellow classmates and instructor for coming to this presentation. " ( A P recording, Viet, E E C E 510) O n the other hand, when both these students concluded their A P s they just uttered the phrase: "So that's all!" ( A P recording, L u x i n , E E C E 510). So while we can say their A P s started with a rather formal tone, they ended with a very informal expression. Students seemed to perceive the A P as a special event where they were supposed to express themselves employing a formal register. However, they were not consistent throughout the whole A P , and the opening and closure are just an example o f this.  6.2.2 APs in E E C E 512 Mateo, M i g u e l , M e i , L u x i n and V i c - M i n g were the five presenters in E E C E 512. A l l students intuitively thought they had to organize an A P that lasted around 20 minutes, and they also knew there would be a question period (this seemed to be the usual format of A P s  107  in the Faculty o f Applied Science, according to students and my observations o f APs). However, students in this course-like students in E E C E 510—were not specifically told any time frame or format until the day o f the A P arrived and D r . Gomez said: Ok, today we have the presentations. I would like you to presentfor 25 minutes more or less, and then we leave like 10 minutes for questions. We will have a 15 minutes break in the middle - Is that ok? ( A P recording, D r . Gomez, E E C E 512)  While two presenters took 29 and 31 minutes respectively, the remaining three took 10,13, and 15 minutes (including the question period). Thus, the length o f A P s in this course was also quite variable (see Table 6.3) Table 6.3  A P Length - E E C E 512  Shortest AP  10 minutes  Longest AP  34 minutes  Mean  19.6 minutes  The event was perceived as a special occasion, and thus there was a certain formality attached to it. First o f all, the A P did not take place i n the regular classroom; instead, the event took place in the department conference room, which has the necessary equipment to project computer-generated slides. So the (unusual) physical setting itself—with its carpeted floors, chairs tidily arranged i n rows facing the front, and an impeccable aura o f ordercharged the event with a touch o f formality. A l l students stood in front o f the class to do their A P s , for most of them employed a laptop computer to do their presentation, and one 30  student used overhead transparencies.  Most students in this course had prepared their presentation using Powerpoint. Hence, in order to show their slides they needed a computer and a projector that allowed them to display their work.  108  6.3 Underneath the Surface: Essential Aspects that Help Define APs in Applied Science A s I have just stated in the previous section, A P s i n both Applied Science courses shared many surface aspects in common: A P s were a one-time event that took place on the last day o f classes; students were expected to take a total o f 30 minutes (though this was not strictly respected in either course); and it was a relatively formal event. A n analysis o f aspects such as content, sequence, purposes and discourse features o f A P s w i l l further reveal the similarities (and slight discrepancies) that characterized the task in E E C E 510 and E E C E 512.  6.3.1 The Content of APs In both cases, students were expected to orally present their (preliminary) written final projects. However, while students in E E C E 510 were presenting the findings o f their work (for they had to hand in their projects within the same week), students in E E C E 512 presented preliminary ideas, since they were at an earlier stage in their projects (students in this course still had two weeks before the written report was due).  6.3.2 The Sequence Patterns of APs The sequence o f stages generally followed by students is found in Figures 6.1 and 6.2:  109  Topic introduction: idea for project  Question period  Analysis of advantages  Analysis of disdvantages  Unresolved ^ issues / conclusion  (some preliminary results)  Figure 6.1 A P Sequence - E E C E 510  Students in E E C E 510 started with an introduction outlining their ideas for the final project; next they analyzed the advantages and disadvantages o f their chosen approach and techniques. I f already implemented, they showed some results o f their ideas at work; i f no results were available yet, students clarified this and went on with unresolved issues or problems they had, and finally concluded their A P with a brief summary o f main points. A question period ensued.  C  Topic introduction: idea for project V  sfe v  \ Methodology applied J  v y  Question period  ^  <JZD ^  ( K ~  Conclusion  J  <^~a  Solution | developed (exemplification) J  Applications of idea J  Figure 6.2 A P Sequence - E E C E 512 The A P sequence i n E E C E 512 shared certain aspects i n common with A P s i n the other course: students also started with an introduction o f the topic stating how their ideas  110  had emerged. However, since students in this course had already tried out their ideas and developed a solution (i.e. usually a computer program with applications i n the field), the next stage in their A P sequence was that o f sharing the methodology applied and then, most importantly, showing how the solution worked. Before summarizing main ideas, students highlighted the applications o f their solutions in the field. Once the delivery part was finished, there was a brief question period where the audience generally asked for more details and explanations about certain aspects o f the proposed solution and its performance.  6.3.3 The Purpose(s) of APs While E E C E 510 students presented preliminary ideas, those in E E C E 512 presented a finished work. Hence, the purposes o f their A P s differed slightly. Students in the first course viewed their A P s as an opportunity to test their ideas. If these seemed to sound reasonable to the public (i.e., mainly to the instructor), they felt they were free to go ahead and develop them in their final project. A s well, input from the instructor and peers was sought and taken into consideration. O n the other hand, students in the latter course ( E E C E 512), experienced the A P as a chance to share their finished work with their audience. This was a time for celebration o f accomplished work, and an opportunity for students to actually demonstrate the applications o f their developed solutions and share them with their small community. In addition to these purposes the task fulfilled i n each course, in the case o f E E C E 510 Dr. Okinishi mentioned that one o f the reasons for having students present their preliminary ideas was to engage them in the final term project w e l l i n advance: I only introduced this presentation the last year. Otherwise - w e l l I -1 usually give the term project - but from the past experience - if they don't- if they 're not given the 111  pressure of giving a presentation course materials are over.  - they don't get serious enough - after all the  (Interview, D r . Okinishi, E E C E 510) Thus, in this case, A P s served also as a kind o f "excuse" in the sense that they were not an end in itself, but rather a kind o f tool that put pressure on students to start working early. In fact, D r . Okinishi confessed that he did not mark A P s very strictly, and tended to give students a similar grade. Also mentioned as a good purpose was that o f doing A P s in order to gain enough practice to present at professional conferences in the field. A l l students were aware of how much an impact their presentations could have, for the way they were able to present influenced the way people perceived and judged their work. Students in Applied Science as well saw A P s as a good chance to practice their presentation skills (the practical aspects, such as public speaking in front o f an interested audience). Furthermore, A P s were an excellent chance to practice the English language. Even though students felt that their linguistic abilities in some cases did not meet their expectations, they also thought that this would not have too much o f a negative impact on their grade. Thus, A P s were not threatening, but rather a good opportunity to continue learning English. It is interesting, however, to see how opinions differed slightly between those N N S s who had already been studying at W C U for a while (two or three years), and those who were incoming students. These issues are further addressed in the next section.  6.3.4 Discourse Features of APs A P s i n Applied Science courses were characterized, i n broad terms, by ample use o f technical vocabulary, as exemplified i n the extracts below:  112  [Showing slide 7] So, probably to summarize the idea, we could say that the ideal option should be to have - the real-time engine simulating the network with very detailed information and models, and at certain- not at the same pace as the real time simulator (xxx)? but every time step drops - actually this information comes from the real time engine and feeds all the stability assessment tools - which could be, for example, sophi- very sophisticated power flows. A n d this is also the shortest way to the critical point. A n d also for energy analysis. ]  (AP recording, Mateo, E E C E 512) [Showing first and second overhead transparencies] I ' m supposed to have this control using a PCI controller, using a linear - and also fuzzy logic (x). First I talk about my project, and then a little bit about switch reluctance, which is the name o f this model. (...) I also designed a circuit for simulation. In this project, i n order to have a controller I need a motor for the system. Since this motor is highly known in the system, therefore we can have a complicated {mother board?). But in order to test the control system, just I found that - having a simple model for that is working. This means that the (xxx) model works, in the linear type o f (x). (AP recording, Farid, E E C E 510)  Terms such as real time, engine, simulation, time step, stability assessment tools, model, controller, and circuit, were the lexical items that gave meaning to the whole texts. In order to be able to successfully present and fully comprehend the A P s , students were required to have knowledge not only o f everyday English language (to make the oral discourse sound coherent and cohesive), but they also needed to be extremely knowledgeable of the technical terms employed in the field. One o f m y aims i n this research project thus was to find out whether students felt they had the necessary linguistic tools to cope with the task, and i n relation to this also examine the specific needs o f these students.  In most cases were I have included (x) in these two extracts, the kind of terms that I was not able to understand sounded like typical technical vocabulary. Due to my lack of familiarity with the field, I was not able to decipher this information.  113  6.3.4.1 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Perceived Through Observations A s an observer, I must admit my huge limitations. In the case o f Applied Science courses (as with Medicine courses), in many instances, it was hard for me to figure out the terminology itself, let alone to comprehend the content o f the presentation. O n the other 32  hand, as an observer I was still able to assess: the presenters' level o f language proficiency and whether they were comfortable speaking in their L 2 ; whether presenters were familiar with the A P genre (mostly perceivable through the presenter's practical skills such as speaking i n a loud voice, making eye contact with the audience, speaking at a good pace, using gestures, etc.); and whether presenters seemed to know what they were talking about (manifested, for instance, through the presenter's clarity o f exposure, and ability to cope with questions framed by the audience). From my observations, then, I was able to identify two groups o f students: those who seemed to have a level o f language proficiency that allowed them express themselves comfortably during the A P , and those who struggled more obviously with the language, evidencing certain limitations to make their ideas clear to the audience. Mateo, Miguel, M e i , and Farid belong to the first group o f students; L u x i n , Viet, and V i c - M i n g to the second one. A brief description o f each particular case follows: (a) Mateo was born in Argentina. In his early 30s, he was now enrolled in a P h . D program after having finished his Masters at W C U . He had thus been in Canada for about three years at the time his A P in E E C E 512 took place. Mateo seemed to be extremely comfortable doing the A P task: he spoke eloquently, addressed the audience constantly while speaking, and had good management o f equipment. In spite  To diminish the impact of my misunderstandings as an observer, I kept copious notes in my fieldnote book of instances in which I seemed to fail to understand words/phrases uttered by presenters. After the A P , I informally approached presenters and double checked my notes with them. I found this exercise to be of great help. Still, I am aware and so should be the reader of the many instances in which I may have misunderstood something due to my lack of familiarity with the field. 3 2  114  o f his Spanish accent and some difficulties with grammar, it was easy to follow the structure o f Mateo's A P . H e rarely interrupted the flow o f speech, revealing his high level o f conceptual and linguistic preparation. However, Mateo's own experience with A P s can be further explored through his own perception o f how language (i.e., delivering it i n his L 2 ) may affect it. (Refer to the next section.)  (b) A l s o i n his 30s and from a Hispanic origin, M i g u e l sounded quite proficient and comfortable delivering his A P . This student had been in Canada for over three years at the time o f my observations, and thus he seemed to be fully acquainted with the kind o f task he was asked to fulfil in this course. M i g u e l ' s flow o f speech was smooth, although it was difficult to understand a few words he uttered. He also made a few grammatical mistakes (such as employing wrong verb conjugations), but generally this kind o f mistakes would not impede communication.  (c) M e i , a Chinese female student in her early 30s, had also been in Canada for over three years at the time I observed her A P in E E C E 512. M e i ' s repertoire o f some linguistic features (such as conjunctions, linking devices, attributive terms) was quite restricted, and it was apparent to me that she had even memorized part o f her A P (evidenced through the fast pace of her speech for certain sections of her presentation). Yet, though linguistically less proficient than either Mateo or M i g u e l , M e i seemed to have enough language competence to deliver her A P successfully.  (d) Farid, a male student in his 40s, was born in Iran. However, he had spent the last five years outside his country while studying in Canada. Currently, this was his first year in the Ph.D. program at U B C , but he had earned his previous degree at another Canadian University. Farid's speech was heavily accented, but his pronunciation o f words was mostly clear. Hence, his speech was sometimes blurry but not incomprehensible. H e sounded quite fluent speaking English, though his range o f everyday vocabulary was quite restricted during the A P . (He tended to use several times phrases such as as can be seen, as I've just said, next I, making his speech sound repetitive, even i f the ideas he portrayed were not.) Still, I would argue that there were no major perceivable linguistic difficulties i n his A P , and during the discussion period he demonstrated his ability to cope with questions.  (e) L u x i n , a Chinese female student in her 20s, was a newcomer to Canada. Having lived in Vancouver for about six months, she was still adjusting to her new life as a student in a foreign country. I was able to observe L u x i n doing two A P s , and this allowed me to perceive some differences between her first and second presentation. L u x i n ' s A P in E E C E 510 was the first presentation she had ever made in English, and thus this represented for her an extra challenge. She took about 15 minutes for the presentation, and it seemed as i f she felt she had to rush through it even though she still had plenty o f time. It looked as i f L u x i n had learned her A P by heart, for there was almost no stretch o f spontaneous talk: she basically read through the text 115  she included in her slides, and in some cases briefly included further verbal explanations o f what she had done. The second time I observed her, she seemed to have realized some o f the weak points in her previous A P , and thus for instance she made an effort to speak more slowly during her A P . Still, her language competence was far behind that o f her other more proficient N N S peers.  (f) Viet came from Taiwan. He was a young student i n his early 20s, pursuing a masters degree. H e had never before studied abroad, and had currently been i n Canada for about four months. H i s English proficiency was rather weak, and thus he experienced some problems when trying to communicate ideas to his peers/instructor. He had a strong Chinese accent, employed intonation patterns that are not typical of the English language, and his grammar competence was not very accurate. If it had not been for his enthusiasm about his project, and for the visuals he employed in his presentations, I assume it would have been very difficult for the audience to grasp the content o f his presentation.  (g) V i c - M i n g was a young Chinese student, also in his early 20s. He had been in Canada for a few months, and this was also his first experience studying in an English speaking country. V i c - M i n g ' s L 2 competence was far behind that o f his other N N S peers, and this was evident when in his presentation he was forced to stick to the phrases he had written down in his overhead transparencies, only being able to read through them without expanding on his own (except for a few cases, in which he tried to give further explanations o f how he had reached a solution. In these cases, due to his stuttering speech, plenty o f repetition without adding further meaning, his strong foreign accent and wrong use o f certain grammar structures, it was evident that he was struggling to make himself understood i n his L2.)  The two extracts below (from A P recordings) attempt to illustrate these differences among N N S s ' discourse: So - basically - the - the scheme - it can be summarized i n this slide. W e have the real time simulator providing accurate data at a very fast pace, so you can take at any moment the- the data- accurate data from any part o f the system to initialize the low flow solution. Since you are taking accurate data from the real time engine you- can-have more freedom in the convergency aspect - because, as you probably are be aware - i f you provide good initialization data for the low flow, you make everything much easier for the conversion. ( A P recording, Mateo, E E C E 512)  The first step when people come to- when people think to upgrading their power system is to - is they- with-within a power planning with more than one generating  116  unit- to gene-generate power efficiently they w i l l think that you need to find the power motivation o f the unit first. So the unit maximum efficiency? - then you go to the next one, and so on. But that's -that's not the case, so ((long pause while he flips through overheads)) So - when determine-when determing the economic distribution o f a load between the various units you look at the (xxx). ( A P recording, V i c - M i n g , E E C E 512) A linguistic analysis o f the complete A P s is beyond the scope o f this thesis. H o w ever, an examination o f representative portions w i l l shed some light as to the kind o f linguistic struggles N N S s had to face, especially in situations like this, where students were under great pressure and thus were not able to concentrate on all aspects o f their A P s . In Mateo's case, the letters in italics indicate instances i n which he committed grammar mistakes (that he was probably not aware of). However, none o f these problematic instances interfered with meaning. O n the other hand, in V i c - M i n g ' s case we can identify more cases o f linguistic struggles. T o start with, the first string o f information seems rather disorganized and includes some faulty use o f language and repetition that may evidence insecurity. A s to the interrogative utterance that follows (So the unit maximum efficiency?), V i c - M i n g might have been using a pragmatic strategy common i n Chinese (and, sometimes, in causal oral English) that was loosely organized with the sentence topic first, followed by a comment about that topic. The final sentence in this stretch o f discourse reveals another instance o f doubt: is it "determine" or "determing"? It should actually be neither, and V i c M i n g seemed to be aware o f his struggle, but for the sake o f time (and probably also because he was not sure as to which was the correct form to be used), he decided to go ahead talking. In the case o f L u x i n , I mentioned she seemed to cope with linguistic struggles. For instance, an utterance such as " A t this time I haven't got time to do results - but I ' l l do it in the next two weeks" ( A P recordings) illustrates the kind o f grammar mistakes (wrong 117  choice o f verb tense when using haven't got instead of didn't have; and probably a more appropriate lexical term would be get results instead o f do results). A s well, I spotted a few instances of incorrect spelling or grammar in her transparencies. For example, "This project will analyzes. " ( A P fieldnotes) Though these kinds o f linguistic difficulties may not have severely impeded understanding o f her A P , they did reveal L u x i n ' s plight in trying to perform in her L 2 . A n d this was even more evident when her speech was compared to that o f other more linguistic proficient peers, o f course. Thus there were two distinctive groups i n E E C E courses, and L 2 linguistic proficiency played a crucial role in how the students A P s were perceived. However, as evidenced through data that comes form the interviews, those N N S s who seemed to barely struggle with English, i n fact also felt that their L 2 linguistic proficiency prevented them from delivering their A P s in the most desired way. I examine this i n the section that follows.  6.3.4.2 Linguistic Challenges of NNSs as Reported by Presenters M y perceptions are complemented with the actual viewpoints o f the students themselves, who reflected on their A P s in the interviews. A s already mentioned, M i g u e l was among the group o f students who spoke fluently and quite spontaneously. When asked i f he would have preferred to give the same A P in Spanish (his mother tongue), M i g u e l responded: I think it would be more difficult, because all the terminology is in English, right? So, to start with, how can you talk about something that you don't know how to say in Spanish? - It's happened to me several times already - the whole lot o f technical terminology, how do you transfer it to Spanishl - you end up talking SpanglisM (Interview, M i g u e l , E E C E 512)  118  Hence, M i g u e l felt that given the large amount o f technical terms he usually used in his A P s , and given that he was familiar with this lexicon in his L 2 mainly, doing a technical presentation in his L I would be even more difficult, and he would end up translating from English to Spanish. However, when I asked M i g u e l i f he thought presenting in his L 2 had an impact on his A P , he responded: M i g u e l : Y e s , I think so. My vocabulary is much more restricted - and Sandra: So, not the technical terms, but everyday language you mean? M i g u e l : Y e s , standard language - idioms and expressions (Interview, M i g u e l , E E C E 512)  Thus, even though M i g u e l mentioned that doing his A P i n Spanish would be difficult for h i m due to the technical language (which he has mastered i n English), it was the everyday expressions and idioms that seemed to affect his perception o f the way he presented in English. A s well, M i g u e l admitted to having pronunciation difficulties, and thus he always employed a "word selection strategy " (see next section) to compensate for this problem. Mateo, the student I identified i n this group as the most comfortable one giving an A P , also had something to say regarding his L 2 proficiency and how it affected his A P : I wish I- could speak English like I speak my first language [Spanish]. A t this point, I feel I-1 have no problem presenting i n front o f an audience, I even enjoy it! I am comfortable giving talks, and be able to explain my ideas - but sometimes I'd like to be able to speak in a more elegant way. (...)Ifeel that my language is rudi- rudimentary? in some cases. A n d although I practice beforehand what Iwant to say, I - sometimes I don't know how to say things, although I know NSs would know how to say them! Also, I have an accent, and I don't know how to pronounce a few words. I know the word, but Iforget the pronunciation! So I want to use it [the word] but then I don't know if I should or not. (...) I try to sound very natural when I present, because this is the best way to engage the audience. So, definitely, if I spoke English as my first language, I would be able to sound much more natural! (Interview, Mateo, E E C E 512)  119  Notwithstanding Mateo's high level o f L 2 proficiency, he still felt that it prevented him from sounding "natural" or from having the freedom to choose the lexical items and expressions he wished. In addition, he felt that his Spanish accent and lack o f knowledge of pronunciation o f certain words also hindered his ability to express himself in his L 2 . In sum, he felt constrained due to his minor (perceived) linguistic limitations. When asked whether she enjoyed giving presentations, M e i made specific reference to her L 2 proficiency, and how this affected the way she performed this kind o f task: Enjoy? N o -1 don't think so. But - now I am more used to give presentation, because now I speak better English. But when I came here - it was very difficult for me, because I couldn 't understand what other people were asking me, and I got nervous. Now it's better, because I know more English, and I can explain my ideas. (Interview, M e i , E E C E 512)  To M e i , improving her English meant that she was now able not only to speak, but also to understand people. She felt much better now that she could explain her ideas in English, something she was not able to do on her arrival in Canada, more than two years ago. In fact, Mateo, M i g u e l , and Farid had also been in Canada for a few years at the time of their A P s , and all of them made reference in their interviews to how their stay in Canada had allowed them to improve their linguistic abilities, and thus made them feel stronger in this aspect. When asked which part o f the A P she preferred—the delivery period or the question period, M e i explained that since she had improved her English, she preferred the second period because she could talk and because mistakes were not so obvious in this stage: I think - [I prefer] the question period, because you can talk, and if you make mistakes it's not so obvious. Because when you are presenting it has to be like perfect, if not people will think that - you will not make a good impression. But when they  120  ask you questions and you can talk more free, then it's better. Now, at least, because I know more English. That is actually the main point, the English. (Interview, M e i , E E C E 512)  M e i also stated that the fact that she had to give her A P i n her L 2 influenced the way she presented, especially because she felt she was not extremely fluent in English. In her own words, (...) it's not so easy - for the vocabulary. Sometimes you end up paying attention to the language and not to the topic of your presentation! A n d that's bad. (Interview, M e i , E E C E 512)  What may occur i f students do not feel proficient enough in their L 2 is that they end up concentrating on the language even more than on the content o f the presentation. A n d of course, this is not a desirable situation. This relates to Skehan's (1996) work on taskbased instruction and performance, where he contends that "it is useful to separate learner goals into three main areas: accuracy, [linguistic] complexity, and fluency" (p. 46), arguing that these three main areas are in constant competition with each other. Thus, under stressful conditions (such as an A P , for instance), students may tend to emphasize one area over the other. A s Skehan illustrates, One could speculate that the tendency to be inaccurate on this basis relates to how well established the particular part o f the interlanguage system is. But it is also possible that inaccuracy is the result o f the competence-performance relationship, and of the way i n which communicative pressure has led to an error being made which, under other circumstances, would not be: a lapse, (pp. 46-47)  Students like L u x i n or Viet, for instance, felt that their linguistic competence was one o f their main concerns when presenting, especially because they could not speak  121  English very fluently or correctly. (This of course, in addition to the fact that they were not very familiar with the A P task itself. These issues w i l l be further discussed in Chapter 7.) It's easy to use you native language. That's the most thing that make me nervous! using another language. Because -I don't speak good English, so I have problem to communicate. I don't know much vocabulary, and I am afraid make mistakes! I -1 don't know [if] people understand me - But I think sometimes not because they looking at me with big eyes! ((small laughs)). (Interview, L u x i n , E E C E 510)  L u x i n was conscious o f her linguistic problems, and she was actually afraid that sometimes her message might not come across due to these difficulties. Viet also mentioned similar concerns in his interview: I - this m y first presentation in English, and I was- was very nervous! ((small laughs)) But -1 don't know -1 think my - most important problem is my English. I speak good, but maybe not so good for presentation! I don't know - but / - need to learn more words - a- and the English expression. Because -1 hope I can learn all this to do better presentation i n the future. I know other people like me learn, and they do better - presentation. So, I think I can too! (Interview, Viet, E E C E 510)  Although he felt he spoke English well, Viet also realized his L 2 linguistic competence was not enough to do a good presentation. H e needed to learn more vocabulary and expressions, and hopefully this would aid him in future times. H e viewed English as his most important problem. (However, as I w i l l discuss i n Chapter 7, there were other nonlinguistic struggles students had to cope with, and these were by no means less important than the linguistic constraints.) In sum, speaking English as an L 2 implied for all N N S s that they would have to face the challenge o f conveying ideas in a language they were not fully confident with, and which they felt had a negative impact on their A P s .  122  6.4 Qualities Promoted in Applied Science A s with the Faculty o f Medicine and the Faculty, o f Arts, students in the Faculty o f Applied Science also tried to behave according to the qualities and values promoted in their field. Figure 6.3 attempts to illustrate these qualities as evidenced through the specific task of A P s .  Figure 6.3 A P Qualities Valued in the Faculty of Applied Science Again, some o f the qualities (such as engaging the audience and being sensitive to it; speaking clearly; and being able to cope with questions) are qualities that the students in the other two faculties explored were also expected to account for. A distinctive value promoted i n the Faculty o f Applied Science, on the other hand, was the idea o f proving the knowledge or mastery o f a topic not merely through an exposition o f ideas, but rather through a demonstration o f results. Hence, students in Applied Science courses were usually expected to apply their knowledge by developing a concrete solution, and showing the  123  community how this solution was applicable to real life situations. Consequently, a less tentative nature characterized the discourse expected from students, who needed to sound convincing and persuade the audience that their ideas in fact were worth hearing. A s well, students in the Faculty o f Applied Science always relied on visual resources for their presentations. Given the interactive nature o f some o f the students' projects, presenters in E E C E 512 usually chose to employ a laptop computer to produce Powerpoint slides, and in some cases to run the programs they designed, demonstrating their proposed solutions at work. W i t h regard to the behaviors discouraged in the field, these are summarized in Figure 6.4:  Figure 6.4  A P Behaviors Discouraged in the Faculty of Applied Science  Students and instructors in Applied Science viewed either reading aloud most of the presentation or memorizing speech as negative behaviors. In addition, repetition of ideas or concepts without a clear objective was discouraged. Ideas should not be presented in a sim-  124  plistic way, but rather showing the audience the complexity o f a solution through a detailed description o f how it was developed. In order to be taken seriously, students needed to sound convinced o f their ideas, and thus weak arguments were discouraged.  6.5 Strategies Employed by Presenters Similar to the case of students in the other two faculties explored, i n order to perform the A P task according to the values promoted in the field, presenters resorted to a wide spectrum o f preparation and delivery strategies.  6.5.1 Preparation Strategies Prepare well: Master the topic of the presentation In order to be able to persuade the audience about the solution developed, presenters needed to show extreme confidence i n their work. Hence, students felt they should prepare themselves well i n advance, and learn everything possible about the topic. According to M i g u e l , he needed to prepare himself well (through testing his solution several times, for instance), because the person needs to be 100% sure that what she or he is saying is correct. Otherwise, the audience notices immediately. (...) So that's why it's imperative that you know what you 're talking about. I cannot give a presentation about fish, because I don't know anything about fish! But for the topic of my presentation, I was well prepared. (Interview, M i g u e l , E E C E 512)  Mateo also mentioned in his interview the crucial role preparation played, explaining that he could not start even thinking about his A P until he was totally convinced that his solution worked. Once he obtained the desired results and confirmed them several times with different methods, he was ready to organize his A P . H e felt at this point that the knowl-  125  edge he had on the topic was essential in order to organize his A P , and without it he would have failed. Organize A P in advance Gathering the necessary knowledge to present the topic i n front o f an audience did not suffice to become a successful presenter. Thus, in addition to preparing themselves well in relation to the content o f the A P , students also mentioned the importance o f organizing the ideas to talk about. Once I - know exactly what I want to say, then I think how I want to say it. I want to be very effective in the way I present, so that's why I believe it is very important not only what you say, but also how. (...) I usually use my laptop and prepare the slides including the main points. Then, when I present, I just refer to these points but explain to the audience directly, instead o f writing everything on the slide. A n d for this I need to be prepared. (Interview, Mateo, E E C E 512)  Rehearse (aloud) Although all students mentioned doing a rehearsal of their A P s before they actually took place, the way i n which students practiced differed. Some o f them (like Viet and Luxin) chose to look for a peer and ask them to be their audience, simulating a real A P situation. Others (like M i g u e l or Mei) said that after over two years o f giving presentations at W C U they did not need to rehearse orally any more - they "had done much of that already''! (Interview, M e i , E E C E 512) But what they did mention is that practice took the form o f going over their A P in their minds, and probably rehearsing aloud just a few words that they knew caused them difficulty (due to pronunciation, mainly). In Mateo's case, even though he had already done a number o f A P s in the past years, he said that i f time  126  permitted him, he always preferred to rehearse it aloud, since this gave h i m a sense o f exactly how much time the A P would take and how coherent his talk sounded: I -1 like to rehearse my presentation, and I generally - try to do it orally. Because this is the only way in which I can test how long it will take me (or approximately how long), and then I decide i f I have to avoid some information or not. A s well, / can realize if my talk makes sense. A n d also, since I know that it's not the same to speak English than my first language, I am usually more nervous when I speak English and that's why I prefer to rehearse orally! (...) A l s o , 1usually have to check the pronunciation o f some words, which I forget. (Interview, Mateo, E E C E 512)  Rehearsing it orally also allowed Mateo to release some of the tension he usually felt due to the fact that the A P s had to be delivered in his L 2 . Speaking English the moment before the A P To some students, one o f the biggest issues seemed to be that the A P was delivered in English. Hence, as a strategy to loosen up their tongue and reduce the level o f nervousness, they engaged in informal conversations in English, even i f these were not related to the topic o f their presentation. A s Farid and L u x i n mentioned i n their interview: Farid: I realized L u x i n was very nervous. W e talked to each other before coming to class - we talked around one or two hours. Actually, one o f my aims - to talk to L u x i n so much was that - she's very nervous, and I try to make her calm. A n d also it was - since I didn't have a chance to rehearse at home, it was a good chance for me for two hours speaking in English. Sandra: So were you - during these two hours, were you speaking English and talking about what you were going to present? Farid: N o , we talked about other things! L u x i n : /just tried to talk about other things, because Ifeel nervous. And talking in English helps me for the presentation. (Interview, Farid and L u x i n , E E C E 510)  127  6.5.2 Delivery Strategies Word selection One o f the participants (Miguel) mentioned that he paid special attention to the words he employed, and tried to avoid those terms which were difficult to pronounce. (Even so, he mentioned that people sometimes seemed not to understand him.) Establish and maintain eye contact with the audience Engaging the audience was seen as a key to success. Thus, presenters tried to employ certain strategies that enabled them to attract the audience's attention. One of these strategies was establishing and maintaining eye contact. I try to make eye contact with the audience. This is what gives me an idea of whether people or not are following - what I'm saying. And if I see faces that are bored well, I try not to look at them! But people who pay attention usually give you an idea if you are doing well or not. Some people nod - and this is like - kind of they are saying 'it's ok, go ahead!' (Interview, Mateo, E E C E 512)  M e i also mentioned the importance o f looking at the audience. She compared A P s in Canada with those in China, where "we used the blackboard a lot, so that [looking at the audience] was a problem. " (Interview, M e i , E E C E 512) Use gestures - vary tone of voice Another strategy that served the purpose o f keeping the audience's attention was that o f varying the tone o f voice, avoiding monotonous speech sound. A s well, using hand gestures or facial expressions was considered a good strategy to keep the audience's attention. In this respect, while some students seemed to be extremely aware of these strategies, others were still trying to figure out how they worked:  128  Viet: I think we should use some - hand gesture. A n d - what do you think? ((asking peers)) L u x i n : I have no idea. - Yes, I think gesture is - is a good way. Farid, what do you think? Farid: I don't know what to say! (Interview, Viet, Farid, and Luxin, E E C E 510)  Use visuals A s already mentioned, the use of visuals (overhead transparencies or computer generated slides) was pervasive, even imperative, in the Faculty o f Applied Science. Students more experienced presenting were usually aware o f many aspects at the time o f preparing their transparencies/slides, and also o f the role these played i n their A P s . For instance, M i g u e l described the way he usually prepared overhead transparencies, paying attention not only to the content but also to the style: / try to keep things as simple as possible. I usually make them black and white because sometimes I have to use the overhead projector - and it's much easier to print them out. I am generally very laconic in the things I include in my transparencies. I don't know i f you noticed that my presentation was absolutely plain. A few letters and maybe a border around them - but no decorations or the like. I think this helps emphasize more on the content of the transparency. It doesn't look as nice as the other ones, but this is not a beauty contest! -1 am providing information. I don't know i f you recall it - there was an overhead with some data about generating times. That transparency, for instance, is very important. Because from there I take the conclusions - so basically, it's what reflects what I did and what I have obtained and these are the conclusions. And that transparency was simply a table - with nothing that would distract people's attention. If people wanted to find something, it was there - and they could find it quickly: method, time, number o f iterations. That's it. Maybe it's because I ' m not so good! [adorning] ((laughs)) But i n general I do not like to adorn transparencies - ( 1 ) 1 like them plains. And I try to employ the biggest font size I can. (Interview, M i g u e l , E E C E 512)  Less experienced students, on the other hand, were still i n the process o f finding effective ways o f designing their overhead transparencies.  129  In short, students in the Faculty o f Applied Science revealed through their A P s that they were aware o f the wide variety o f presentations strategies they could use, and each student in particular also seemed to have developed their own strategies to compensate for any problems they might have. It also seemed that the more experience a student had giving A P s , the more confident they felt, and the more aware they were o f the kinds o f strategies at their disposal.  130  DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY  7.1 Exploring APs Across Faculties Having provided a detailed analysis o f the task focusing on each faculty cluster in particular, in this section I wish to make a comparison o f A P s across all fields explored in this study. Such a comparison w i l l be useful to highlight the peculiar traits o f A P s in each discipline, providing a basis for describing the task in abroad context. A s I w i l l discuss later in further detail, task understandings are constructed through the inclusion o f different levels o f information. A comparison o f task features across faculties provides an understanding of how the task is perceived and enacted within and across each field, thus providing information at the more general level. Next, I w i l l analyze the task as it is understood at the community o f practice level, and finally at the more local, personal level. I w i l l end the chapter making reference to the classroom and research implications that can be drawn from this analysis.  7.1.1 Comparison of Descriptive AP Features Across Fields To start with, all faculties shared A P s as a course requirement. This speaks o f the pervasive use o f A P s across fields, and thus also amply justifies focusing on it closely. A comparison o f main features o f the task in each course is provided in Table 7.1.  131  Table 7.1 A P Descriptive Features Across Faculties Faculty  Medicine  Arts  Applied Science  Course  Regularity  Average length (in minutes)  Presenters per date  BIOC 600  ongoing  36.3  2  N R S C 605  three-time event  15.3  9  HIST 510  ongoing  82.7  1 or 2  A N T H 610  three-time event  11.5  11  F R E N 600  two-time event  21.3  2 or 3  E E C E 510  one-time event  27.6  3  E E C E 512  one-time event  21.2  5  While A P s i n the Faculty o f Medicine and the Faculty o f Arts were either a two time-event, three-time event, or ongoing, A P s in the Faculty o f Applied Science were a one-time event. Students in Applied Science courses were actually presenting a final project and thus it made sense that the task be scheduled at the end o f the course. Conversely, since students in the other two faculties were either providing a critique o f somebody else's work (in the case o f Medicine courses), or were presenting ideas and concepts they were working on as the term went by, it also made sense that A P s were scheduled as either ongoing or on specific dates during the term. Regarding the length o f A P s , the fewer A P s per date, the longer the A P s tended to be. Thus, the number o f presentations scheduled per date seemed to determine the length of the task in each case (or vice versa). This is clearly shown i n Table 7.2. For instance, the longest A P s took place in H I S T 510, where there was just one presenter per date. Conversely, the shortest A P s took place in A N T H 610, the course i n which there was the largest number o f presenters per date.  132  Table 7.2 A P Length Across Courses Total number of students  AP length  Number of APs per class  HIST 510  12  82.7  1  BIOC 600  15  36.3  2  E E C E 510  3  27.6  3  FREN 600  5  21.3  2/3  E E C E 512  5  21.2  5  NRSC 605  27  15.3  9  A N T H 610  11  11.5  11  Course  7.1.2 Comparison of Essential AP Features Across Fields 7.1.2.1 A P content W i t h regard to the content o f the A P s (see Table 7.3), this is another feature that is distinct across faculties. Table 7.3 A P Content Across Faculties Faculty Medicine  AP content  Course BIOC 600  research article  NRSC 605  Arts  HIST 510  research topic  A N T H 610  - report of fieldwork findings - research proposal  FREN 600  abstract concept  E E C E 510 Applied Science  final project  E E C E 512  While Faculty o f Medicine courses required students to present a critique o f a research article, students in the Faculty of Applied Science were asked to present their final 133  projects. The content o f A P s in the Faculty o f Arts, on the other hand, included either a research project, an abstract concept, a report on fieldwork findings, or a research proposal. The A P s in this last cluster were less homogeneous than those o f the other two faculties. However, it evidences a common underlying pattern o f A P s in H I S T 510 and A N T H 610, where students' presentations dealt with stories that involved human beings, whereas A P s in F R E N 600 were more abstract (in keeping with the theoretical nature o f this course). In any case, the content of A P s was in accordance with the type of work usually performed by academics and professionals i n each field. For instance, B I O C 600 and N R S C 605 students were exposed to and asked to criticize an experimental research article, which is the kind o f material they w i l l both have to write and read i n their academic and professional lives. Likewise, students in Applied Science were required to present the results o f a developed solution (or the plans they had to reach such proposed solution), something they are expected to do i n their academic and professional lives. A s an obvious illustration to justify this claim, I would contend that, for instance, students in B I O C 600 courses would never be expected to make an A P whose content was that o f an abstract theoretical term (a task F R E N 600 students had to fulfil, on the other hand). Or students i n H I S T 510 courses, for instance, would most likely never be asked to demonstrate the results o f a proposed solution, basically because this is not the type o f activity a historian does. A n d students in A N T H 610 courses would rarely be expected to show and criticize results o f an experimental study, especially because social scientists within a postmodern or interpretive paradigm simply do not work with experimental models. Consequently, the kind o f content students were required to present in their A P s was not haphazardly chosen or determined.  134  Relating these arguments to the theoretical framework of the study, each community of practice at W C U involved students in a socioculturally organized activity that responded to the characteristics and expectations o f each field. Accordingly, students in each community o f practice were asked to perform a task that gave them practice i n a kind o f activity, and exposure to a kind o f material that prepared them for their professional lives.  7.1.2.2 A P Purposes Across Fields The different purposes A P s served gave students a chance to become socialized into the academic world through observing and performing a task organized around the intellectual values and academic skills promoted in graduate school. Coinciding with Morita's (1996) findings, "[t]he O A P task employed in graduate seminars had specific sociocultural goals and was organized in relation to these goals." (p. 205) A n examination o f A P purposes reveals some overlapping goals o f A P s across faculties. For instance, among the shared purposes of A P s across fields were: (a) familiarizing students with a kind o f task widely used in the field (both in the academic community and in the professional community); (b) providing students with an opportunity to practice presentation skills (practical skills such as preparing for and speaking i n front o f an audience, preparing visual aids, and so forth); (c) encouraging students to prepare the material and know it well; and (d) providing N N S s with a chance to practice speaking in their L 2 and encouraging them to participate. In addition to these shared purposes across disciplines, there were some other purposes (perceived either through observations o f the task performances, or through instruc-  135  tors' and students' perspectives) that A P s seemed to serve in each particular field or even course. These purposes (which I hereby call "exclusive") are illustrated in Figure 7.1:  FACULTY OF MEDICINE - stimulate in students the ability to critically evaluate existing research (BIOC, N R S C )  Exclusive A P Purposes Across Fields  FACULTY OF ARTS - encourage students to constructively criticize each others' work (HIST, ANTH) - provide students with a chance to "play" with ideas (HIST) - create a space for interaction and discussion (HIST, A N T H ) - promote active student participation (HIST, A N T H ) - provide a space for speculative thinking (HIST) - provide students with an opportunity to practice research skills (FREN)  FACULTY OF APPLIED SCIENCE - present / test preliminary ideas ( E E C E 510) - force students to start working on final project well in advance ( E E C E 510) - share results of achieved work (demonstrate applications of proposed solutions) ( E E C E 512)  Figure 7.1 Exclusive A P Purposes Across Fields Each of the A P exclusive purposes in turn is related to the kinds of behaviors usually promoted and expected from members of the academic community in each case. For example, since students in the Faculty o f Medicine were expected to critically evaluate existing research in both their life as either academics or professionals, this purpose was attached to the A P task. Similarly, students in the Faculty of Arts were encouraged to discuss and participate actively, criticizing each others' work—a behavior also typically found among academics and professionals in the humanities and social studies. O n the other hand, in the case o f a purpose such as forcing students to start working on the final project well in advance, no connection can be made between the purpose and a specific value promoted in the field (of Applied Science, in this case). Rather I would con136  tend that such a purpose originated from a particular situation i n the course (i.e., prior students taking E E C E 510 did not start their projects in the right time), and consequently the course instructor decided that it would be advantageous to have students prepare an A P in order to encourage them to start working earlier. Hence, we can say that an additional purpose was attached to the task, a purpose that did not emanate from the discipline values, but rather as a consequence o f the needs o f the specific community o f practice in which it was enacted. (Refer to section "The co-constructed nature of A P s " for further discussion on this topic.)  7.1.2.1 A P Discourse Features Across Fields W i t h regard to the discourse features o f A P s across faculties, based on my observations and analysis o f A P s performed by students (both N S s and N N S s ) in each course I concluded that there are in fact certain linguistic patterns that seemed to be typical o f each discipline. For instance, in Medicine courses A P s were structured mainly around technical scientific language, and the same applied to presentations i n the faculty of Applied Science. On the other hand, students presenting in Arts courses made use mainly o f everyday language and expressions, technical terms being less usual. This o f course has its implications, especially when considering the linguistic challenges that N N S s o f English face when giving a presentation in their L 2 . While for some students the technical terminology represented the main linguistic source of problems, to most students it was in fact the everyday language that they felt hindered the delivery o f their presentations (and in some cases, even the preparation). Students felt that the fact that the A P was performed in English implied that they were not able to be as straightforward as they wished to, or that some o f the subtle meanings were lost in the translation process. Even those students with a high 137  level o f L 2 proficiency felt that their presentation was negatively affected by the fact that they did not speak English as their mother tongue. Some instructors who made reference to this point also recognized that speaking English as a second language seemed to have an impact on the presentation, even i f they were not able to verbalize how it is manifested. In short, we can say that the fact that A P s were performed in English impacted N N S s in all cases, affecting individuals at different levels. M u c h has been argued about the N S / N N S dichotomy. According to Davies (1991), "the dichotomy of N N S s o f English versus N N s o f English is power driven, identity laden, and confidence affecting" (as cited in L i u , 1999). Furthermore, with the globalization and the recognition o f world English "languages" (Mc Arthur, 1998), there seems to be a need to challenge the stereotype of N N S o f English. In her 1996 study, Morita re-examined this dichotomy and concluded that it was not very helpful in explaining the language socialization o f graduate students, since both groups o f students (i.e., N S s and N N S s ) seemed to go through similar socialization experiences. Although I agree with Morita's contentions, the findings o f this study seem to favor the dichotomy in some aspects. While all studentswhether N S s or NNSs—were immersed i n an academic world that was new to them in similar ways,-it was those students who came from different previous educational experiences that seemed to experience a more clear "cultural shock", mostly due to their lack o f prior exposure to the A P task. In addition, although it would be unfair to argue that N S s did not have to cope with any kind o f linguistic struggles, the linguistic challenge faced by N N S s was greater than that o f their English speaking peers. Several examples were included in previous chapters o f this thesis to illustrate this point. In sum, although I do not strictly uphold the N S / N N S dichotomy, I still believe it does apply to the groups o f students in this  138  project. However, I also think that there seems to be another dichotomy within the group of N N S s : those who were more socioculturally/linguistically proficient, versus those who were less socioculturally/linguistically proficient.  7.1.3 Comparison of AP Qualities Across Fields In her study, Morita (1996) explored the values and academic skills promoted in graduate school, specifically in two T E S L courses. The findings o f her study revealed that there were intellectual abilities and academic skills that were valued at the graduate level: The main intellectual values included ability to think critically, learn collaborative and independently, and make connections between theory and practice based on the literature and students' own interests and teaching experiences. Intellectual flexibility.... [being] a good synthesizer of information.... [and] to be able to articulate one's thinking i n spoken and written communication...[were] the main academic skills graduate students needed to have. (pp. 88-89)  Similar to Morita's study, in this work I examined the qualities and behaviors valued and discouraged in graduate school. However, I explored these aspects across a variety o f disciplines (other than the one explored by Morita). In this way, both studies complement each other since they focus on common aspects but i n different academic contexts. A n analysis o f these qualities suggests that, on the one hand, there are certain qualities common to all faculty clusters. For instance, engaging the audience, being articulate, and sounding knowledgeable are qualities desired in all cases (as observed and also as expressed by participants). O n the other hand, there are other qualities which respond to the expectations o f each field in particular. Such is the case o f being able to present visually, for example. While students in Arts courses were not strictly required to employ any kind of visual aid, students in Medicine and in Applied Science found visuals (such as overhead  139  transparencies or computer-generated slides) to be an essential component of their A P s . B y the same token, being able to generate full discussion was a quality emphasized mostly in Arts courses, while Medicine and Applied Science courses apparently did not expect this same behavior. G i v i n g personal opinions and sounding tentative (rather than making deterministic comments) was expected from students in Arts, whereas students i n Medicine were expected to contribute with a straightforward, solid critique (where tentativeness was discouraged), and Applied Science students were expected to present and defend their solutions as i f these were given truths. A l l three faculty clusters coincided in discouraging behaviors such as reading aloud the whole presentation or unnecessarily repeating ideas or concepts. Pretending to sound like an expert was frowned upon in Arts courses, and this is i n keeping with the expected tentative nature o f students' discourse. The same applied to Medicine courses, where pretending to be an expert in the topic was considered a wrong behavior, given the presenters' novice status i n the field. When comparing the findings o f this study with those o f M o r i t a (1996), the following can be said: thinking critically, working independently (rather than collaboratively), and making connections between theory and practice (all values promoted in T E S L courses) also were found—though not equally emphasized—in the faculties examined in this study. Morita also reported that graduate students i n T E S L were expected to articulate their ideas clearly both in written and oral language. Since I focused on just one oral task, and since data were gathered around this task, I can only make reference to the oral expectations of students in the courses I examined. These coincide with Morita's claim, for students in all three faculties were expected to have their thoughts clear in mind, and to express them  140  in a clear fashion. However, given that I do not have data to support this claim, I cannot contend that the same applied for written tasks these students performed (although I would suspect it would also be congruent with Morita's view).  7.1.4 Comparison of AP Strategies Across Fields A s illustrated and discussed in previous chapters (4 - 6), students in all courses employed a wide array o f preparation and delivery strategies. While some o f these overlap across fields, others seem to be specific to each community o f practice, and some even pertinent to students i n particular. A m o n g the strategies common to all faculties, preparing ahead o f time was a preparation tactic applied by all students in the seven courses I observed. Even in cases where students had not been able to prepare well enough, they admitted that this strategy was in fact one o f the most important ones in order to raise the chances o f a successful presentation. Rehearsing aloud the presentation was another strategy employed by students across all courses. However, students in Arts courses usually prepared a full handout o f their A P detailing exactly what they planned to say, while students i n Medicine or Applied Science courses tended to employ the overhead transparencies or computer-generated slides as a written guide to rehearse their A P s . In Medicine and Arts courses students tried to include humorous comments or personal anecdotes that helped them connect with the audience and work as well as an ice breaker for the presenters. The inclusion o f visuals in the A P s (already briefly discussed in a previous section) was another strategy employed by students. Table 7.4 summarizes the kind o f visual  141  resources employed i n each course, and whether they were used always, usually, sometimes, rarely, or never (as observed). Table 7.4 A P Visual Resources Across Faculties  Overhead transparencies  Computergenerated Slides  Objects/ photographs  Handouts  Chalkboard  BIOC 600  Always  Never  Never  Never  Never  N R S C 605  Always  Never  Never  Never  Never  HIST 510  Never  Never  Never  Rarely  Never  A N T H 610  Rarely  Never  Rarely  Rarely  Never  F R E N 600  Rarely  Never  Sometimes  Usually  Rarely  EECE510  Always  Never  Never  Never  Never  E E C E 512  Rarely  Usually  Never  Never  Never  Course  3  a. Students in N R S C 605 and BIOC 600 courses mentioned that for other courses they usually employed computer-generated slides instead of overhead transparencies. However, for these two courses they were not allowed to use this type of material, although students were not clear for which reasons.  Students i n Medicine courses tried to choose a topic that they were familiar with, while students in Arts courses tried also to take into account the audience's interests when choosing a topic. In Arts, students tried to pose questions and include controversy in their A P s , thus stimulating plenty of talk. Regarding the strategies employed by individual students to effectively deliver their A P s , the following can be mentioned: M i g u e l ( E E C E 512) employed a word selection strategy to avoid lexical terms he could not pronounce confidently; Sachiko ( A N T H 610) chose to read aloud her A P because she felt this was an acceptable way o f delivering her A P for the course, and besides, she felt that she was not able to produce the kind of fresh talk N S s are able to produce. Sohan ( B I O C 600) pretended the audience did not know as much as he did, and in this way he gained more self confidence; and L i n ( B I O C 600) and L u x i n ( E E C E 142  510 & 512) chose not to look at the audience so as not to feel intimidated. Among the personal strategies regarding timing o f A P s , while Sachiko ( A N T H 610) chose to do the A P early in the day in order to get over with it as fast as possible, Chao (HIST 510) preferred to present at the end o f the course; this, he thought, would give h i m more time to prepare his A P .  7.2 The Co-constructed Nature of APs In addition, besides the general comparison o f the task which reveals common and differential patterns across disciplines, I also want to place an emphasis on how the task meaning is not merely determined by each discipline, but how it is also socially co-constructed/negotiated by the specific community o f practice i n which it takes place. A s discussed in Chapter 2 o f this thesis, when examining the question o f how the task is understood and construed by each student, we need to focus not only on the expected behaviors and values promoted i n the field, but also on those emerged and encouraged as a result o f the specific community o f practice in which it takes place (Wenger, 1998). Researchers that have employed the discourse community (Swales, 1990) or community o f practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) metaphor highlight the role o f members o f a community working as a team, and complementing each other's views and understandings through constant participation and joint negotiations. In a recent work, Prior (1998) examined the "mediated" nature o f academic writing, arguing that "literary products do not emanate from a single author but are jointly constructed by various parties in addition to the actual writer, as he or she reads, discusses, revises collaboratively, and so on." (as cited in Flowerdew, p. 130) A similar claim may be made for academic speaking. In light o f these views, in this  143  study I focused on the co-constructed nature of A P s as students o f each community of practice worked jointly (though mostly inadvertently) to reach an understanding o f the task. Students in each course learned about A P s through being exposed to them as well as through doing them, and this all occurred within a group o f social beings performing a socioculturally organized language-mediated activity. The first A P s i n the course usually set up a kind o f model. Students observed the presenter's way o f organizing the A P , o f expressing himself/herself, and they also observed the responses produced by peers and the course instructor. A l l these became reference points that students chose to either include or exclude in their own presentations. Thus, we can say that students came to the classroom with certain preconceptions o f how A P s should be done, but it was not until the first A P s were performed that they confirmed whether or not these preconceptions were applicable to the pertinent course. Hence, understandings o f how A P s should be given were co-constructed in the sense that how the community o f practice viewed and responded to particular A P s in turn shaped the following A P s . Each A P had an impact on the rest, to put it in a straightforward way. A s a concrete example o f how this occurred, I refer to Charles' interview: W e l l , I could have gone on for hours! But I chose to include the main points. I think that the first two APs [referring to Jose's and Sohan's A P s ] somehow were too detailed - and included too much information? That's why I decided to make it shorter. (Interview, Charles, B I O C 600)  Based on the previous A P s he had observed i n the course, and on the impact they had in the audience, Charles decided to make his A P shorter. Thus we can say he accommodated his vision o f task according to the classroom context i n which it took place.  144  O f course, i n cases where all presentations were scheduled for the same date (like in A N T H 610, E E C E 510 and E E C E 512) or where a number o f presentations were scheduled for the same date (as i n N R S C 605 or F R E N 600), students had less opportunities (due to timing reasons) to incorporate i n their own A P s what they learned from observing others. However, any instance in which students observed an A P was taken by them as a potential learning experience on how to be a successful or an unsuccessful presenter. A n d it was in the case o f N N S s that this was mentioned more often. Probably this was due to N N S s ' l i m ited exposure to the A P genre, and therefore observing others giving an A P and recognizing about the behaviors that were positively valued by the audience gave them hints as to how they should behave themselves as presenters. To illustrate another instance o f how the meaning o f task is socially co-constructed, and how individual students incorporated this knowledge to their own understanding o f task, I focus on L u x i n ' s ( E E C E 512) case. L u x i n was the last one to perform the A P in E E C E 512, and although all A P s were scheduled for the same date, she still managed to adjust her preconception o f task to her co-constructed conception o f task: I - yesterday I give my first presentation, and it was - 1 think it was ok, but today better. (...) I - because Dr. Okinishi mentioned to Farid i n his presentation that he the presentation must be o f 20 minutes or so? Then I say to myself "oh, I think my presentation is not ok because it is 15 minutes I guess". But I cannot worry much, because I had to present next! But I try to speak for longer time - because [if it] is too short -1 don't think Dr. Okinishi w i l l accept it! (Interview, L u x i n , E E C E 512)  After observing an A P i n her course, and realizing that the course instructor meant to be quite strict about the A P time frame, L u x i n tried to adjust the pace o f her A P to the expected 20 minutes. Even though she was not able to do so i n the end, at least she was now  145  aware o f what she should try to do. Her understanding o f the task was modified by how it was enacted by somebody else in her course, and by how it was perceived by her course instructor. Once again, this points to the co-constructed nature o f task since what was perceived as good or bad in the particular community o f practice influenced how students organized and perceived their own A P s .  7.3 The Local Nature of APs In addition to this co-constructed nature, I would like to address the local nature o f the task. When analyzing the writing task, Casanave (1995) contends that characterizing disciplinary communities with this broadly conceived metaphor has helped writing scholars understand the legitimately different ways that academicians conceptualize and talk about their worlds. Nevertheless, it has met with limited success in terms of being adequate for helping us understand individual writers in specific settings. (...) It is at the personal level—the level o f the individual—that all conceptualizations o f context and community become instantiated i n the lives o f real people engaged in real writing tasks, (p. 88)  Casanave then makes a case for the "importance o f the local, historical, and interactive aspects o f the contexts that writers in academic settings construct for themselves" (p. 88), arguing that the local factors are found both outside the writer (people, settings, assignments), and inside the writer (intentions, intellectual histories, interests). I contend that the same applies to oral tasks such as A P s . Hence, without discarding the community o f practice metaphor, I also want to emphasize the local, personal, and interactive nature of the task context through an analysis and discussion of how individuals constructed their notion o f the task.  146  Similarly to what occurred to the students in Casanave's (1995) study (refer to Chapter 2), students in the courses I observed constructed task contexts not only by taking into account the expectations o f the discipline and o f the particular community of practice, but also by incorporating their personal intentions and histories. Sometimes, these personal histories facilitated an oral task such as A P s , and sometimes they may have hindered it. Morita (2000) examined the role o f expertise and personal identity in shaping the students' perceptions of task, arguing that " i n performing an [AP], students had to negotiate different, sometimes conflicting identities within themselves in addition to negotiating expertise with peers and instructors" (p. 303). Hence, views o f self, previous personal experiences (e.g. teaching, or doing other A P s ) also strongly influenced the way A P s were perceived by each student. According to my observations o f how students performed the task, and based on the personal information provided to me by students in their interviews, particular experiences of individuals strongly shaped the way their A P s were organized and delivered. For instance, in the case o f A l e x e i (a N N S H I S T 510 student), his previous experience working for a media company helped h i m to prepare himself to speak i n front o f an audience. Although the kind o f activity he was used to performing when working for media purposes was not identical to the A P task, his previous experience aided h i m in succeeding to communicate his message with clarity to the audience. In the case o f Mateo, (a N N S i n E E C E 512), the fact that he used to work as safety manager training employees in the company he was working for also provided h i m with strategies that he applied in his A P (e.g, how to organize main ideas, how to maintain engaged the audience, etc.). Sohan (a N N S in B I O C 600) had taught an undergraduate course in his home country. This experience provided  147  him with the necessary confidence to sound authoritative in his A P . M i g u e l (another N N S in E E C E 512) had also worked for a company in his home country, where he had taken a course on presentation skills. This course, he argued, helped h i m to concentrate on the main structure an A P should have. Although he never had a similar discussion about A P structure during his graduate studies in Canada, he still felt he could apply his previously acquired knowledge to the A P situations i n a course such as E E C E 512. A l l these are instances in which personal histories seemed to have aided students in their completion o f the A P task. On the other hand, the following illustrations attempt to exemplify how these personal histories can negatively affect students' understanding and performance o f a task such as A P s . In the case o f L i n (a N N S in B I O C 600), her prior experience with A P s involved a smaller number o f participants (in the audience), and a different classroom setting where interaction was not encouraged. Hence, when L i n performed her A P reading aloud and avoiding any kind o f eye contact or interaction with the audience, her A P was perceived as not fully meeting the course expectations. Her course instructor encouraged L i n to include more interaction in further occasions, and her peers thought L i n should try to avoid reading and instead explain with her own words what she meant. Otherwise, they thought it was difficult to follow the thread of her A P . A s another example, Sachiko (a N N S in A N T H 610) also read aloud her handout for the presentation. Sachiko was used to doing this in her home country, and it seemed to work even for another A P in a different graduate course at W C U . However, the A N T H 610 course instructor rejected the way Sachiko delivered her A P , and indirectly criticized it when making the general comment "I thought you [to all students in the class] would be ready to explain things in your own words. I didn't expect you to read a piece o f written text—that I w i l l read when I get your final paper!"  148  (fieldnotes, D r . Evans, A N T H 610). Thus, we can say that Sachiko's prior experience reading aloud A P s hindered her A P delivery in A N T H 610. What may have been acceptable for the other courses in which she gave APs was not acceptable for the A N T H 610 course. L u x i n and Viet (both N N S s in E E C E 510) had never been actively involved in an A P before. Both came from Asian countries in which they were not usually expected to participate orally in class. Furthermore, since they had arrived in Canada just a few months earlier, and since this was their first experience studying abroad in a Western culture country, A P s were not part o f their personal histories. Hence, they brought with them not only little knowledge on how to organize and deliver an A P , but also limited awareness o f the kinds o f strategies they could employ to be successful presenters. After delivering their APs, both o f them realized that they still needed'to gather more knowledge about how to become a successful presenter, and they thought they could do so through observing more A P s and through performing more tasks of this kind. The purposes underlying A P s were also attached to the task meaning. In addition to the purposes determined by the discipline (i.e., each faculty), and those that emerged from the community of practice (i.e., each course), there were other more personal purposes that were also connected to the task, and which speak o f the local nature o f task context. Specifically in the case o f N N S s (the focal participants o f this study), A P s were viewed as a chance to practice speaking English. A n d it was by no means coincidental that the less L 2 proficient the presenter, the more this purpose was emphasized. When students such as L i n , Jose, Sachiko, L u x i n and Viet mentioned in their interviews that the A P task represented a great chance for them to improve their linguistic skills, they were revealing their own con-  149  ceptions o f the task. Students attached to A P s the additional personal goal o f improving English through the task. In sum, it would be erroneous to view A P s as a task with fixed interpretations or understandings attached to it. Rather, I would argue that while there are certain aspects (such as the ones incorporated in the comparison across fields) that are usually determined by the context o f each discipline, and others by the context o f the community o f practice, ultimately each A P is prepared, delivered, lived and perceived by each individual involved depending also on a number o f local, personal variables.  7.4 Gaining Membership as a NNS: a Complex Socialization and Negotiation Process In keeping with the aims o f this study, in this section I wish to discuss the role A P s played i n the double socialization o f N N S s when trying to gain membership into the academic community o f W C U . In chapter 2 o f this thesis I made reference to the concept o f language socialization and to how it views the development o f language and culture as simultaneous. A s a sociocultural approach, language socialization focuses on the language development in relation to the social, cultural, and historical contexts i n which social contact takes place. In light o f these notions, I want to make reference to the double process o f socialization N N S s go through when they are immersed i n a new culture such as W C U , in what is for them a "foreign" country. Most likely, all graduate students—regardless o f their N S or N N S status-had to negotiate their entrance to the new academic world o f W C U . This view is congruent with Morita's (1996) perception, who argued that "graduate students, whether N N S s or N S s , had  150  to learn the new academic culture o f W C U graduate school and o f each graduate seminar when they began their programs" (pp. 186-187). However, it was N N S s who seemed to have to cope with a few more extra challenges than their N S peers. T w o major challenges can be identified: the first one related to the N N S s linguistic abilities, and the second one relates to the sociocultural challenges faced by this group o f students. In chapters 4, 5, and 6,1 made specific reference to the linguistic challenges particular N N S s faced when preparing for and delivering their A P s . Students felt they took more time to read than N S s did; they also had to consult more often the dictionary, and this slowed their pace; they had pronunciation problems to cope with; they found it hard to choose the appropriate language expressions to save time and be concise; i n some cases they believed that in the translation process (from their L I to English) some subtleties were lost, and hence their ideas sounded less complex than they actually were; and they usually had problems when trying to produce the kind o f spontaneous talk their N S s could produce so spontaneously. Although some N N S s mentioned that doing their A P in their L I would be difficult due to the technical vocabulary (which they learned i n English), the majority o f students-regardless of their level o f English proficiency—mentioned that i f they had to give the same A P in their L I they would do much better. While these were the personal impressions of N N S s themselves, some o f their N S peers and instructors also seemed to be aware of the linguistic difficulties of N N S s . In relation to the N N S linguistic challenges, N S peers and course instructors mentioned in their interviews that they felt N N S s had to make a huge effort in this task. M y observations o f student presentations also attest to the fact that these Morita (1996) identified three main kinds of problematic areas for graduate students: linguistic difficulties; sociocultural problems, and psychological difficulties. Although students in this study also faced psychological difficulties (as revealed in some of their interviews), I did not have the chance to explore this kind of struggles in detail. Still, I want to acknowledge them as a third type of problem students had to cope with. 3 3  151  challenges were not merely a perception, but rather a reality. I illustrated with examples o f A P recordings (and fieldnotes) how N N S s ' speech differed i n terms o f their lexical density, and the kind o f expressions students chose. A s well, a "foreign" accent was perceived by most N N S s as a linguistic difficulty (although it might not have hindered their performances as much as they felt they did). In some cases, N N S s sounded as i f they were giving an oral performance o f written text, and I pointed to how this might be the result o f students' linguistic insecurities. In sum, A P s were a task in which students not only relied on their existing linguistic abilities, but they also had a chance to incorporate new linguistic knowledge through performing and observing A P s . In the same way children learn how to speak their L I through trial and error, N N S s o f English were learning how to become proficient speakers through actually using the language to speak and to understand others. So far, I have made reference to the first kind o f main challenge N N S s faced. Next, I w i l l make reference to the sociocultural gap perceived by students, and to how A P s were a good opportunity for these students to gather the sociocultural knowledge they needed in order to gain membership into the academic world. N N S s , as I have already mentioned, came from various cultural backgrounds. While some o f them had had some previous exposure to Western education, others were experiencing the "cultural shock" for the first time. This means that, i n addition to the language difficulties N N S s had to face, they also faced the challenge o f learning about a new culture, and trying to adapt to it. Through the A P task, N N S s were exposed to a kind o f socioculturally organized activity which, in most cases, was not typical o f the educational systems these N N S s came from. Hence, those N N S s who were involved in such an activity for the  152  first time i n their lives had to figure out the rules and norms o f the activity, as well as the goals surrounding it. The kind o f extemporaneous talk students were expected to produce in their A P s differed in some cases with the kind o f interaction N N S s were expected to produce in their home countries. For instance, students who came from China mentioned that classes in Canada differ from those in China, because classes in China are lecture format (where the course instructor does all the talking), while graduate course classes in Canada tend to be seminars (where student participation and interaction are encouraged): Because - uh- in China- most of the graduate courses are given by the - by the instructor or the- the professor. (...) just a few class take the form of seminar. (Interview, Chao, H I S T 510)  A Japanese student also noted a difference between the way American children were raised, and the way Japanese children were raised, arguing that their difference in upbringing impacted the way people expressed themselves as adults in any context: 'Cause - in America or Canada - Iheard the children student are encouraged - to speak out from childhood? So, ya, I think that I noticed some of the American people very quiet? But, basically, I guess they 're get used to express their thinking orally? Much more than Japanese. Y a . W e - in Japan - during the class - usually we don't do discussion, and we are supposed to do just listening to the teachers talking. And if I - we have question, we need to raise hand - and we: uh- we are discouraged to interrupt? teachers talking or other students talking. So it's very difficult for me when - when other people are talking, and it's difficult to interrupt (...) If we miss timing, we cannot speak out. (Interview, Mariko, A N T H 610)  While the first step was for N N S s to become aware o f these differences (which they did mostly through observing others present first), the second step implied trying to behave according to the expected values, rules and norms of W C U . Through choosing certain strategies that would help them cope with either their linguistic or sociocultural challenges,  153  N N S s made an effort i n trying to learn about the academic culture o f W C U through participation in their A P s . A P s thus played a crucial role in N N S s process of gaining membership into a new academic world.  7.5 Pedagogical Implications This study has focused on a comparison o f A P s across three different faculties, revealing the main traits o f the task in each context and shedding light on some o f the challenges faced by N N S s o f English studying in an English-speaking environment. The unit of analysis chosen for this study is the language-mediated task o f A P s , viewed as a socioculturally organized activity through which students experience a complex process o f socialization into a new academic community. Even though generalization is not the intention of this study, given its scope and nature, some useful pedagogical implications can and should be derived from it. In the first place, since the study suggested that the A P task is pervasive across a variety o f disciplines, and given that an increasing number o f N N S s are choosing North American or Canadian schools in pursue o f a graduate degree, paying attention to the kind of previous exposure these N N S s have had to the task w i l l reveal to the subject matter course instructors the series o f struggles this group o f students has to overcome before they are ready for the task. Hence, this study calls for raising the awareness o f instructors who include A P s as an assignment, but who fail to recognize the linguistic and sociocultural challenges that N N S s seem to go through when presenting for their course. The first step towards facilitating the A P experience for N N S s (i.e., their language socialization through this task) is recognizing students' needs and limitations, as w e l l as their strong points.  154  Second, most opportunities for instructors to provide meaningful feedback to students were not fully exploited. From my observations and from what students shared with me in their interviews, instructors tend to provide general comments on the students' performances, and this o f course implies that unless the students are self-reflective on their A P s , or provided they are able to discern weak and strong points i n their performances, the A P s they perform fail to act as a strong opportunity for these students to improve in further occasions. Comments such as "good job," or "very nice presentation" do not provide students with enough information they could potentially incorporate i n future A P s . O n the contrary, i f students are given the chance to discuss with their instructors practical as well as conceptual aspects o f their presentations, the task may become a much richer and useful experience in terms o f the academic apprenticeship process. Thirdly, an analysis o f the linguistic features across fields revealed that A P s differ in terms o f the language demands posed on students, thus yielding useful implications for E A P courses. Students usually enrol in this type of courses with a view o f acquiring enough linguistic knowledge to cope with their academic studies i n an English medium school. Not all students w i l l have the same linguistic necessities, therefore E A P instructors should examine the particular linguistic needs o f students i n order to plan their courses, choose materials, and assess students. Finally, those N N S s that had not had prior experience with the task at the time this study was conducted expressed that the task was a major, crucial event i n their lives. Hence, this calls for an awareness o f instructors and N S peers o f the impact the A P may have on these students' academic careers. Since task interpretations or misconceptions can occur due to lack o f exposure to the task, scaffolding on the part o f the instructor and/or peers  155  would especially benefit those students who are new to it. Involving students in peer assessment may prove to be a way o f providing a space for reflection on the task. If properly guided, students may make informed judgements and provide useful feedback to aid their peers. A s well, communicating task expectations (such as precisely describing the task structure, even modelling it in front o f students, and specifying time frames) w i l l aid in lowering the students' level o f anxiety (which in the case o f N N S s is high already due to linguistic and sociocultural factors). A P s are a kind o f task which by no means should be understood as simple or straightforward. Rather, A P s should be considered as a challenge and a chance for students to become socialized a step further into the academic culture. W i t h this view of task in mind, much more can be done to aid students in this language socialization process.  7.6 Limitations of the Study In this section I w i l l make reference to some of the limitations of the study, of which I am completely aware. A s I have already described in Chapter 3, this study employed a qualitative research design. Thus, data were collected from different sources, whenever possible. Since respecting the participants' wishes and feelings was foremost to me, I tried to gather the data provided that I was sure the participants involved felt comfortable with either my presence or that o f the tape-recorder. Originally, I had planned to video-tape participants. However, most participants did not feel very comfortable with the idea o f being video-taped, and consequently I had to change my mind, deciding to employ a tape recorder instead. Although audio-recorded data proved to be extremely useful in that I was able to recurrently listen to it, video-tapes would  156  have also given me the chance to concentrate on the participants' gestures, movements, and other kinds o f information (e.g., details o f classroom setting) that I was not able to capture on tape. Although I made my greatest effort at taking fieldnotes o f all these aspects, I am positive that i f I had had the chance to go over a video o f the A P s , I would have discovered many details that escaped my senses the first time I observed them. A s well, in more than one case I was given permission to observe the A P s , but I was not allowed to tape-record them.  34  Hence, in these cases I tried to make copious fieldnotes o f the event, but this inev-  itably implied that I was not able to go over the original speech event again for data analysis purposes. Ideally I would have liked to go over the tapes together with the participants. This would have given participants a good opportunity to reflect on their A P s in more detail, and I assume that participants' reflections on the task (after listening to it again) would have proven most useful. However, all students were extremely busy at the time data collection took place, and involving participants i n a review session (longer than the 20-minute interview I asked for) would have been very inconsiderate o f m e .  35  The fact that I was given permission to observe quite a large number o f A P s (n= 56) in seven different courses had its advantages and its disadvantages. O n the one hand, having access to such a variety o f classroom contexts allowed me to examine the task across a  In one course ( A N T H 610), due to the delicate nature of the A P topics, even though the students were willing to be tape-recorded during their APs, the course instructor did not give me permission to do so. In two particular cases, students specifically asked me not be tape-recorded because they did not feel good enough about their linguistic skills. Although A P audio-recorded data from these two participants would have most likely proven very rich for my analysis, I am still very grateful to these two participants for allowing me to observe them and interview them. 3 4  In some cases, where participants seemed to be very interested in listening to their A P again, I offered them copies of the tape. 3 5  157  number o f fields. O n the other hand, since I was not familiar with most o f the participants and contexts I observed, this implied that my understanding o f h o w the task was enacted were inevitably influenced by my lack o f specific linguistic and content knowledge o f each field. A l s o , while the sample o f students observed is relatively large, increasing the representativeness o f the group observations, this in turn meant that I was not able to have a very close contact with each o f the participants. In many cases, I was not able to interview participants I had observed because it was very hard for both o f us to agree on a good time for the interview. In the end, I decided that interviews with 20 N S s and 16 N N S s would give me a chance to follow these cases more closely. Still I think that interview data from all 55 participants would have been useful especially for the triangulation o f information. Regarding the interviews with instructors, I was only able to interview five out o f the nine instructors in the seven courses. Again, their busy schedules prevented us from finding a good time to do the interviews, and thus i n four cases I lost a good chance to obtain another view on the performance o f students' A P s . Although I had designed a written questionnaire for students, in the end I decided not to distribute it due to the students' heavy work load for their courses. Information gathered in this questionnaire would have confirmed information gathered through interviews, and would have also given students a chance to reflect on their A P s with more time. In addition, since in this study I concentrated on just one instance in which students performed their A P s , I was not able to draw any conclusions on how this event may have affected students' future performances. Given the possibility, it would have been very revealing to observe students' A P s on more than one occasion, and over an extended period of time. 158  Finally, although the analysis was based on the triangulation o f actual data gathered from participants, i n any case what the reader has access to are m y interpretations o f these data. A s a human being, m y subjectivity inevitably came through i n this analysis, and thus the reader should keep this i n mind when going through the pages i n this work.  7.7 Suggestions for Further Research This study attempted to fill a gap in the literature on oral academic tasks. However, based on the reduced scope and on the limitations o f the present study, I would like to mention a few implications for further research. First o f all, to m y knowledge this is the first study that investigates A P s across such a variety o f disciplinary fields. Hence, further studies to confirm or contrast the views and information conveyed i n this study are needed. Also, it would be interesting to include other academic fields thus far not explored, and which also pervasively employ A P s i n their courses. In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding o f how students perceive the task, and o f the role the task plays i n their language socialization, it would be useful to follow closely the students' preparation of the task, asking them to keep a log book on their A P preparation process (where they could take down notes about information which is difficult to recall after the event, such as amount o f hours spent reading or preparing visuals). The role o f feedback (either peer feedback or instructor feedback) would also be an interesting area to investigate. From the limited amount o f data gathered on the topic, I concluded that feedback is usually left for the end o f the course, and is given i n the form o f a short comment or just the final mark. However, this may not be the case i n all fields, or i n  159  all courses. Hence, examining the feedback surrounding A P s seems also an area worth o f studying. For future projects that may follow up on the role o f A P s i n N N S s language socialization, I would suggest employing a more ethnographic approach. Probably engaging a smaller number o f students i n the project (equal number o f N S s and N N S s , to contrast their experiences and perceptions) would prove useful. A reduced number o f participants followed up during a more extended period o f time by means o f an ethnographic approach would allow for a more exhaustive examination o f the role o f A P s . A s well, further research on other types o f oral academic tasks is warranted. The role o f tasks such as group discussions, or in-class debates would certainly provide useful insights.  7.8 Summary and Concluding Thoughts This study investigated the role o f A P s in the language socialization o f graduate students (focusing on N N S s o f English) into the academic world. The three research questions I tried to respond were: 1) H o w are A P s organized, performed, and perceived by instructors, presenters, and classmates? What are the characteristic discourse features and expectations associated with A P s within and across fields? 2) What purposes do A P s fulfil within the graduate school context? What role do they play i n the language socialization o f graduate students, particularly o f N N S s of English?  160  3) A r e there any specific difficulties or challenges that N N S s o f English have during the preparation and delivery o f their A P s ? If so, how do N N S s cope with these difficulties? H o w are these difficulties perceived across fields? A qualitative approach that involved several kinds o f data gathered throughout a four-month period was employed. Fifty-six A P s were observed, and 36 students and nine instructors interviewed. Data from this study yielded useful in showing how the socioculturally organized task o f A P s involved N N S s in a complex process o f socialization, whereby students were apprentices of both the English language and the western education system (more specifically, the "Canadian way" o f giving an A P ) . The analysis chapters o f this thesis allowed to respond to the three research questions I started with. Question 1 was partially addressed i n chapters 4, 5, and 6, by focusing on how A P s were organized, performed, and perceived by instructors, presenters and classmates in each course, and by referring to the characteristic discourse features and expectations o f A P s in each field. I found that A P s differed across disciplines in terms o f their regularity, length, content, and purposes (first part o f question 2). In chapter 7, the comparison o f A P s across fields proved useful to highlight not only the pervasiveness o f the task in a variety o f disciplines, but also to shed light on the task characteristics across fields (second part o f question 1) i n the broad academic context o f W C U (i.e., a typical North American university). B y focusing on the task in each particular course and field, and by later focusing on personal experiences and perceptions o f the task, I was able to show how the A P context is co-constructed by the community o f practice in which it takes place, and ultimately by each individual.  161  In chapters 4, 5, and 6,1 focused also on the linguistic and sociocultural challenges faced by N N S s , making reference to some o f the strategies employed by students to cope with these challenges (question 3). A n d in chapter 7, I made reference to the role A P s played in the language socialization of N N S graduate students (second part o f question 2). In keeping with Morita's (2000) findings, this study revealed that N N S graduate students faced linguistic as well as sociocultural challenges when observing, preparing for, and delivering an A P . However, although Morita's study placed emphasis on how the N S / N N S dichotomy was problematic in describing the participants in her study, i n the present study I contend that N S s i n fact seemed to go through fewer struggles than N N S s did. Still, by no means do I wish to stigmatize N N S s as less proficient or less prepared, for this is not the case. M y focus on the difficulties that this group o f participants experienced (as I gathered through my observations and through the participants' interviews) aims to shed light on the complexities underlying the A P task, calling for more awareness o f some o f the issues N N S s have to face. I would not like to leave my readers without sharing with them my reflections on this research project. The idea o f exploring the complexities around A P s , as I have already mentioned, was motivated by a number o f reasons. H a d I not been so interested at a personal level i n having A P s as a research focus, I do not think I would have succeeded in making this such a rewarding experience. Thus, i f I can provide other novice researchers like myself with a piece o f advice, I would argue that motivation is the key element to start any research project. A s a novice researcher, I set out to the field full o f expectations as well as fears and uncertainties. A s I encountered the people that made this research project become alive, I 162  began to make sense o f the knowledge I had so far been able to gather indirectly through readings and the expertise o f experienced researchers. The participants i n this study helped me realize how fortunate I was to have access to a "slice" o f their experiences i n graduate school, experiences that were full o f emotions above everything else. Although there are many things I would do in a different way were I to start the project again, I am glad to be able to say this has been an incredible learning experience, one that has helped me to grow as a human being and as a researcher.  163  References Atkinson, D . & Ramanathan, V . (1995). Cultures o f writing: A n ethnographic comparison of L I and L 2 University writing/language programs. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 593568. Block, D . (2000). Problematizing interview data: Voices i n the mind's machine? TESOL Quarterly, 34, 757-763. Bogdan, R. C , & Biklen, S. K . (1992). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (2nd ed.). Boston: A l l y n and Bacon. Casanave, C . P. (1995). L o c a l interactions: Constructing contexts forcomposing in a graduate sociology program. In D . Belcher & G . Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language (pp. 83-110). Norwood, N J : A b l e x Publishing Corporation. Crago, M . B . (1992). 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N e w Y o r k : Academic Press. Hammersley, M . & Atkinson, P. (1993). Ethnography: Principles in practice (2nd ed.). N e w Y o r k : Routledge. Heath, S. B . (1982). What no bedtime story means: Narrative skills at home and school. Language in Society, 11, 49-76. Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press. Huberman, M . A . , & M i l e s , M . B . (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications. Johns, A . M . (1981). Necessary English: A faculty survey. TESOL Quarterly, 15, 51-57. Johnson, D . M . (1992). Approaches to research in second language learning. N e w Y o r k : Longman. Lantolf, J. (2000). Sociocultural University Press.  theory and second language learning. Oxford: Oxford  Lave, J. & Wenger, E . (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  165  participation.  L e k i , I. (1995). Coping strategies o f E S L students in writing tasks across the curriculum. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 235-260. Leki, I & Carson, J. (1997). "Completely different worlds": E A P and writing experiences of E S L students in University courses. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 39-69. L i , D . (2000). The pragmatics o f making requests in the L 2 workplace: A case study o f language socialization. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 57, 58-87. L i u , J. (1999). Nonnative-English-Speaking Professionals in T E S O L . TESOL 33, 85-162.  Quarterly,  Long, M . H . , & P. A . Porter. (1985). Group work, interlanguage talk and second language acquisition. TESOL Quarterly, 19, 207-228. Mason, A . (1995). B y dint of: student and lecturer perceptions o f lecture comprehension strategies in first-term graduate study. In Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic listening: Research perspectives (pp. 199-221). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McArthur, T. (1998). The English languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Miller, G . (1997). Building Bridges: The possibility o f analytic dialogue between ethnography, conversation analysis and Foucault. In D . Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (pp. 24-44). London: Sage Publications. Mohan, B . & Marshall Smith, S. (1992). Context and cooperation i n academic tasks. In D . Nunan (Ed.), Collaborative language learning and teaching (pp. 81-99). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Morita, N . (1986). A study o f oral academic presentation tasks from a language socialization perspective. Unpublished Master's thesis, University o f British Columbia, V a n couver, British Columbia, Canada. Morita, N . (2000). Discourse socialization through oral classroom activities i n a T E S L graduate program. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 279-310. Niiyama, M . (1997). Language socialization of Japanese ESL students in an advanced public speaking and debating class. Unpublished Master's thesis, University o f British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  166  Nishizawa, S. (1997). Voices from across cultures: Language socialization among college students in an English literature classroom and its ESL adjunct course. Unpublished master's thesis, University o f British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ochs, E . (1988). Culture and language development: Language acquisition and language socialization in a Samoan village. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ochs, E . & Schieffelin, B . B . (1984). Language acquisition and socialization: Three developmental stories and their implications. In R. A . Shweder & R . A . L e V i n e (Eds.), Culture theory: Essays on mind, self and emotion (pp. 276-320). N e w Y o r k : Cambridge University Press. Ostler, S. E . (1980). A survey o f academic needs for advanced E S L . TESOL Quarterly, 14, 489-502. Palys, T. (1997). Research decisions: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives (2nd ed.). Toronto, Canada: Harcourt Brace. Pica, T., & Doughty, C . (1985). Input and interaction i n the communicative language classroom: a comparison o f teacher-fronted and group activities. In S. Gass & E . M . Varonis (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 115-132). Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. Prior, P. (1995). Redefining the task: A n ethnographic examination o f writing and response i n graduate seminars. In D . Belcher & G . Braine (eds.), Academic writing in a second language: essays on research and pedagogy (pp. 47 - 82). Norwood, N . J . : A b l e x Publishing Corporation. Schieffelin, B . B . , & Ochs, E . (1986). Language socialization. Annual Review of Anthropology, 15, 163-191. Silverman, D . (1993). Interpreting qualitative data. London: Sage Publications. Skehan, P. (1996). A framework for the implementation o f task-based instruction. Applied Linguistics, 17, 38-62. Spack, R. (1997). The acquisition o f academic literacy in a second language. Written Communication, 14, 1, 3-62.  167  Spradley, J. (1979). The ethnographic interview. N e w Y o r k : Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Swales, J. M . (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tracy, K . (1997). Colloquium: Dilemmas of academic discourse. Norwood, N . J . : Ablex Publishing Corporation. Watson-Gegeo, K . A . & Gegeo D . W . (1986). Calling-out and repeating routines in Kwar'ae children's language socialization. In B . B . Schieffelin & E . Ochs (Eds.), Language socialization across cultures (pp. 17-50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Watson-Gegeo, K . A . , (1988). Ethnography in E S L : Defining the essentials. TESOL Quarterly, 22, 575-592. Weissberg, B . (1993). The graduate seminar: Another research process genre. English for Specific Purposes, 12, 23-35. Wenger, E.(1998). Communities of practice. N e w Y o r k : Cambridge University Press. Willett, J. (1995). Becoming first graders in an L 2 : A n ethnographic study o f L 2 socialization. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 473-503. Yook, E . & Seller, W . (1990). A n Investigation into the communication needs and concerns o f Asian students in speech communication performance classes. Basic Communication Course Annual, 2, 47-75. Zimmermann, S. (1995). Perceptions o f intercultural communication competence and international student adaptation to an American campus. Communication Education, 44, 321-335.  168  Appendix A: Informed Consent Form  169  Informed Consent Form Exploring Oral Academic Presentations through Discourse Principal Investigator: Dr. Patricia A . Duff, Associate Professor Department o f Language and Literacy Education, University o f British Columbia Telephone: 822-9693  E-mail: patricia.duff(g).ubc.ca  Co-Investigator: Sandra Carolina Zappa (this research is for a M A i n E N E D degree) Department o f Language and Literacy Education, University o f British Columbia Telephone: ( X X X - X X X X )  E-mail: sczappa@interchange.ubc.ca  Purpose of the study: The main purpose of this study is to explore oral academic presentations (OAPs) through an analysis of discourse. Both native and non-native speakers are invited to participate in the study, but the main emphasis will be placed on the language socialization (Ochs, 1988; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986) of non-native speaking graduate students. The theoretical framework of language socialization views the learning of language and the learning of culture as interdependent. Hence, employing this framework, the present study aims to illuminate the language socialization of non-native graduate students through OAPs. OAPs are tasks that require students to employ specific skills and language resources. Through tasks such OAPs, and specifically through the language used in such tasks, students are socialized into the academic world. OAPs prove to be challenging for most graduate students (Morita, 1996, 2000 in press), particularly in the case of non-native speakers of English studying in an English speaking medium. It is hoped that analysis of the discourse data gathered in this study will yield useful insights that allow for a better understanding of OAP tasks. A deeper knowledge of the strategies, beliefs, stances, skills, language resources, difficulties and struggles involved when preparing for and when giving a presentation will hopefully help improve graduate students' future OAPs. Study Procedures: Graduate students' participation in this study will not interfere with their course work/time. The co-investigator will employ the following methods to gather the data for this study: a. During class time, the co-investigator will be doing class observations taking field notes. b. With the participants' consent, the co-investigator will either videotape or audiotape the OAPs normally given during class time. OAPs will not be interrupted by the co-investigator for any reason. c. Participants will be invited to an individual interview with the co-investigator (15 to 20 minutes long). This will take place at a convenient place and time for the participant (not during class time). The interview will be audiotaped with the participant's permission. In the interview the co-investigator will ask the participant about his/her views on OAPs.  C F version: June 9, 2000  Page 1 o f 3  170  d. The co-investigator may informally ask some questions to the participants a few minutes after they have given their OAPs. e. Participants will be invited to fill out a questionnaire about OAPs (which will take them about 15 to 20 minutes to respond) at the end of the course. This will also take place not during class time, but at a convenient time and place for participants (e.g., after class in an empty classroom). f. Participants will be invited to participate in an individual review session with the co-investigator (20-30 minutes of length), where participants will have the opportunity to make comments about their own OAP(s) while watching the videotaped presentation. Review sessions will be audiotaped with participants' permission. g. Documents such as handouts that participants prepare for their OAP(s) will also be collected with participants' permission. «  Confidentiality: The only persons authorized to access the data will be the participants, the principal investigator, and the co-investigator of this research project. The university's name and participants' names will not be used in the co-investigator's M . A . thesis or in any other reports. Pseudonyms will be used instead. A l l data will be protected so that no student can be identified as a participant in this research. A l l written questionnaires and videotapes/ audiotapes of presentations, interviews and review sessions will be kept in a locked and secure environment and will be destroyed after a period of five years. Refusals: There will be no penalty for non-participation in this research. Participants have the right to withdraw from the study at any time. It is absolutely not a problem i f participants do not wish to be interviewed, or observed, or if they wish their OAP not to be recorded (audiotaped/videotaped). Compensation: No financial compensation is being offered in exchange for participation. Contact: If participants have any questions about this research, they may contact the Co-investigator Sandra C. Zappa in person, at home by telephone ( X X X - X X X X ) or by e-mail (sczappa(g),interchange.ubc.ca). They may also contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Patricia Duff, by telephone (822-9693) or by e-mail (see page one). Participants should feel free to ask any questions about this research at any time. If participants have any concerns about the rights or treatment of research participants, they may contact the Director of Research Services at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Richard Spratley, at 822-8598.  C F version: June 9, 2000  Page 2 of 3  171  CONSENT FORM Project: Exploring Oral Academic Presentations through Discourse Principal Investigator: Dr. Patricia A . Duff, Associate Professor Department o f Language and Literacy Education, University o f British Columbia Telephone: 822-3154  E-mail: patricia.duff@.ubc.ca  Co-Investigator: Sandra Carolina Zappa (this research is for a M A degree) Department o f Language and Literacy Education, University o f British Columbia Telephone: ( X X X - X X X X ) E-mail: sczappa@interchange.ubc.ca I have read the Informed Consent Form, and I understand the goals o f this research (observations, interviews, review sessions, recording o f presentations, and questionnaires). B y writing my name and signing below I agree to participate in this study, and I also understand that my participation is voluntary, and that I may refuse to participate at any time without penalty. I know that i f I wish to have more information about this project, I am always free to ask for it. I have received a copy o f the Informed Consent Form.  Name (please print)  Signature  Date  Page 3 o f 3  C F version: June 9, 2000 172  Appendix B: Sample Interview Questions  173  SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Project:  Exploring Oral Academic Presentations through Discourse  Co-investigator: Sandra Carolina Zappa M A in E N E D ( T E S L ) Candidate Department o f Language and Literacy Education, University o f British Columbia Telephone: (604) X X X - X X X X E-mail: sczappa@interchange.ubc.ca Interview points with students (conducted after their presentation) (1) Choice o f materials for the oral academic presentation ( O A P ) : •  What led you to choose this particular article/topic for your presentation?  (2) Preparation for the O A P : •  Could you tell me step by step what you did regarding the preparation o f your presentation? (i.e., describe the process in detail)  •  D o you usually do the same whenever you prepare for an O A P ?  •  D o you rehearse your O A P aloud? (if not mentioned before)  •  H o w much time did you spend preparing for this O A P ? H o w much time do you usually spend?  •  D i d you feel the need to consult somebody (e.g., the instructor, a classmate) when preparing for your O A P ? D i d you consult somebody?  •  D i d you feel satisfied with your preparation (before actually giving the presentation)?  (3) Performance o f the O A P : •  H o w do you think your O A P actually went?  •  D i d you have to overcome any kind o f difficulties while presenting? H o w did you cope with them? H o w did you feel about that?  (4) Feedback: •  D i d you receive any feedback about your O A P ? From whom?  •  What kind o f feedback did you receive? Where you satisfied with it? What else would you have expected (if anything) as part o f the feedback?  •  D i d you know i n advance which were the evaluation criteria for your O A P ? D o you think it was met? Page  174  lof2  (5) Y o u r experience as a presenter: •  Was it the first time you were asked to give an O A P ?  •  H o w do you consider yourself as a presenter (e.g., experienced, inexperienced)?  •  D o you think presenting as a student and presenting as a teacher can be compared? How?  (6) Characteristics o f a good O A P : •  What do you think makes a presentation successful? (i.e., which are the qualities o f a good presentation? A n d o f the presenter?)  •  D o you think there are any specific skills required for performing a successful O A P ? W h i c h ones?  (For non-native speakers) (7) Cultural and linguistic aspects •  D i d you feel comfortable presenting in your second language? D o you think this might have affected the way you presented in class? D o you think this might have affected the way you were evaluated?  •  D o you find any specific differences between the classroom culture o f Canada and that of your country o f origin? W h i c h ones?  Interview points with instructors (conducted at some point during the semester) (1) Which are the pedagogical purposes o f asking students to give an O A P ? H o w areOAPs linked to the course objectives? (2) What do you think constitutes a successful presentation? (3) What are the evaluation criteria for the O A P s ? (4) D o you make a distinction in the evaluation o f any aspect between native speakers (NSs) o f English and non-native speakers (NNSs) o f this language? W h y (not)? What differences have you observed between the presentations o f these two groups (NSs/NNSs)? (5) What kind o f feedback do you provide the presenters? When? (6) H o w do you think you can help students to improve their skills as presenters? (7) H o w similar are the O A P s required i n this course to those required for an M A / P h . D . defence or for future professional work in this field? Page 2 of 2  175  Appendix C: Transcription Conventions  176  Transcription Conventions [  beginning o f overlapping speech  =  speech that comes immediately after another person's; shown for both speakers  -  short untimed pause  (words) (x); (xx); (xxx)  words not clearly heard one unclear word; two unclear words; three or more unclear words  underlining  spoken emphasis  CAPITAL  loud speech  italics  italics are used to draw attention to a particular segment that is the focus o f an analytic point in excerpts, quotation marks indicate reported speech  ((comments))  [ ]  comments or relevant details pertaining to interaction author's insertion or rephrasing unusually lengthened sound or syllable terminal falling intonation rising, continuing intonation  ? X-  high rising intonation, not necessarily at the end o f a sentence (attached) cutoff often accompanied by a glotal stop  177  Appendix D: Detailed List of Participants  178  Detailed list of participants  Course  Instructors  NNS students  ivrc Names  students  Country of origin  Time using English  3  B I O C 600  Dr. Morgan Dr. K l u m  Charles Joseph Edward Stephanie Frank Mary Bettina Cynthia  Jose Sohan  Mexico India  1 month 13 months  N R S C 605  D r . Thomson Dr. Stevens  Mark Anne Lisa Patrick Hugh John Robert Patricia Maddy Stuart Grace Dominique  Lin Carl Elena  China Germany Poland  6 months 2 months 2 months  H I S T 510  Dr. Samuels Dr. K o v a k  Sylvia Myriam Chris Carolyn Mike Jim  Alexei Nasrin Chao  Russia Iran China  5 years 2 months 2 years  A N T H 610  Dr. Evans  Leslie Nicole Stella Peter Virginia Megan Susan Stephany  Sachiko  Japan  4 years  j Virginia  179  NNS students Course  Instructors  F R E N 600  Dr. Hubert  E E C E 510  E E C E 512  NS students  Names  Jessica Antonie  Country of origin  Time using English  Kalea Annette  Greece Quebec  30 years 7 years  Dr. Okinishi  Farid Viet Luxin  Iran Taiwan China  4 years 4 months 4 months  Dr. Gomez  Mateo Miguel Mei Luxin Vic-Ming  Argentina Venezuela China China China  2.5 years 3 years 3 years 4 months 4 months  3  a. In this column I detail the number of months or years that these NNSs have been either studying in an English-speaking environment or have used the English language actively for professional or academic purposes.  180  

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