UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Decision-making discourse processes of international students through e-commerce as exemplified by eBay Munn, Susan Elizabeth


Choice (decision-making) discourse processes are central to education and to collaborative critical thinking, and can be analyzed using a Systemic Functional Linguistics and a Knowledge Structures perspective. While their analysis has been relatively neglected, they are an important aspect of discourse development and second language learning. EBay is one of many recent developments in computer-mediated, multimodal (mulitiliteracies) software. Like many, it uses English as a medium of international communication. As software for online bidding and shopping, it would seem likely to require choice discourse processes when used collaboratively by two or more users. This thesis examined discourse by pairs of international students using eBay collaboratively. It asked: "When students use eBay, do they engage in episodes of choice more than they do during casual conversation?" and "Did their eBay interactions show expected linguistic features of choice discourse more frequently than their casual conversations?" Results of this exploratory study throws light on the nature and analysis of choice discourse processes, language features and the value of computer software like eBay for developing the discourse of choice. The findings of the study demonstrated that eBay had a relatively high use of choice discourse. Interactive simulated shopping online allowed the students to use their multiliteracies and critical thinking skills which in turn would assist them in integrating into their chosen professional or academic community more independently.

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