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Negotiating academic discourse practices, ideologies, and identities : the socialization of Chinese PhD students Anderson, Tim


The internationalization of Canadian universities and the rising number of students who speak English as an additional language have greatly influenced higher education in the country. A central component of this change involves the ways incoming students are able to negotiate the academic discourse practices, identities, ideologies, and communities that are essential for success. Against such a backdrop, this dissertation explores the academic discourse socialization of seven foreign Chinese PhD students in the faculties of arts and education at a major Canadian research university. This study draws on the theoretical frameworks and constructs of language socialization (Duff, 2007a, 2010a; Ochs, 1986; Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984, 2012), transnationalism (Duff, 2015; Ong, 1993, 1999; Vertovec, 2009), internationalization (Altbach & Knight, 2007; de Wit, 2002; Marginson, 1999), and panopticism (Foucault, 1995). A multiple case study method was used to address the various sources of socialization and their outcomes in terms of the students’ academic trajectories. The primary data sources include semi-structured interviews conducted near the start and end of the study period, narrative accounts produced by each participant charting their academic writing experiences, and voluntarily submitted academic texts that contained varying degrees and types of written feedback. This study provides insight into the diverse and influential sources of internal and external socialization that affect second language students’ academic discourse practices, identity and ideological (re)negotiation, and community integration. Although much prior case study research involving similar populations has concentrated primarily on students’ deficits and perceived or actual barriers to success, this study largely uncovered the opposite characteristics and experiences of its doctoral participants: students who were resilient, grounded, and exceedingly talented in the face of considerable adversity, and who exemplified strategies and positionalities conducive to achieving their desired goals. In some cases, however, insufficient or undesirable academic support provided to the students resulted in missed opportunities to improve academic language and literacy practices and subsequent socialization into discourses and communities. These stories of both success and neglect, and the socialization that did or did not occur, are of pedagogical and theoretical importance in determining best practices in doctoral student support and education.

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