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Title: Interactional influences on writing conferences
Authors: Chen, Siu-wah Julia
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2005
Abstract: An important aspect of the teaching of writing is the provision of teacher feedback, and in the last decade, attention has turned to examining oral response in the setting of one-to-one writing conferences. Some researchers have hoped to establish a connection between the writing conference and subsequent draft quality, but that has proven to be difficult because of the large number of factors that can have a bearing on revision. Among the studies that have been carried out on conferencing, the holistic experience that the encounter offers to the learner and the effects of the verbal and nonverbal interaction on the learner have received little attention. Research on the interactions in medical consultations has, however, formed a picture of the effects of the encounter on patients, including their understanding and perceptions of the discussion and interaction, the causes of their compliance with, or resistance of, physician advice, and the skills needed by the medical expert in caring about the patients needs. These focuses in doctor-patient interaction research are worth exploring in studies on teacher-student interactions. This study follows a qualitative and naturalistic case study design, and aims to find out how English language teachers and students interact with each other through verbal and nonverbal modes in writing conferences at a Hong Kong university. After videotaping the conferences of four teachers and eight students, and conducting pre-and post-conference interviews with each of them, as well as stimulated video recall sessions with each teacher, the conferences were transcribed, and the verbal and nonverbal behaviours were coded and categorised. The findings reveal that rather than using success or effectiveness to describe writing conferences, it is more appropriate to consider the healthiness of the face-to-face encounter, a concept which takes into account the physical, mental and social well-being of the learner. The study postulates six interactional influences on healthy writing conferences: 1. the effects of pre-conference preparation by the learners on their engagement level in the conference; 2. the importance of encouraging the students to take up the I- and R-phases of the I (Initiation)-R (Response)-F(Feedback) conversation sequence; 3. the impact of the teacher's communication style on the dynamics of the conference and its level of interactiveness; 4. the overcoming of language-induced communication difficulties by students' determination to capitalise on the writing conference; 5. the social connectedness of the interlocutors through verbal and nonverbal behaviour; and 6. the focusing of attention on the student writer while discussing the writing. The study extends the research on interaction in writing conferences methodologically, and to a new geographical area where English is learned as a second language. It introduces the new conceptual metaphor of healthy conferences, and makes recommendations for both pre-service teacher training programmes and in-service professional development programmes. The study raises fundamental pedagogic issues of focus, planning, power and control that could be widely generalisable.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching.
Composition (Language arts) -- Study and teaching.
Written communication -- Study and teaching.
Group work in education.
Teacher-student relationships.
Pages: xv, 630 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
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