If anyone who has presented at a BALEAP event would like to make a podcast, please email John Wrigglesworth (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hopefully, the selection of recordings that we have here will provide a stimulating resource for EAP practitioners.
From Dependence to Independence: Structure, Agency and International Students
Blair Matthews (University of Bristol) talks about his research into learner transitions using Margaret Archer’s work about structure, agency and reflexivity.
Research on the experience of international students often suffers from conflation, in that it uses culture (or nationality as a proxy for culture) as a categorising agent, thereby granting causal powers to cultural differences, and contributing to a deficit model of international students. In this paper, I will argue that, while culture and structure both provide new sets of constraints and opportunities for international students, participants are active agents in shaping their own experiences, as they think, reflect and act in response to their situational context. Drawing on Margaret Archer’s concept of reflexivity, this paper demonstrates that participants in the international student experience confront a situational context marked by a lack of a sympathetic interlocutor (that is, they find themselves on their own). Because individuals are often not immediately able to exercise agency through conversation (thought and talk), they find a need to reflect on their experiences and develop a course of action based on greater autonomy (that is, they become more independent). However, while some students make the transition to independence relatively smoothly, for others, it is not so easy, and some participants may find it difficult to convert thoughts into effective action (or impeded reflexivity). I argue that there are particular features of the international student experience (such as loneliness and boundaries) which tend towards a particular mode of reflexivity. This paper is linked to the conference theme of identity in that it provides empirical evidence of specific generative mechanisms which contribute to the shaping of agency in the international student experience.
Presentation slides: https://baleappimglasgow.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/glasgow-pim_b_matthews.pdf
Positive Psychology and mastery of the “academic” self
Aleks Palanac (University of Leicester) talks about her research using positive psychology in the context of EAP.
“Identity is what makes us similar to and different from each other and for academics it is how they both achieve credibility as insiders and reputations as individuals.” (Hyland, 2015:36)
When talking about “managing transitions” in the context of EAP, much of the focus has traditionally been upon knowledge and skills that students need to gain in order to join and actively participate in the activities of their desired discourse community. Indeed, the influential model proposed by Beaufort (2007) suggests that entry into the target discourse community can only occur once a learner has mastered the domains of knowledge pertaining to it, including those of subject matter, genre, rhetorical techniques and the writing process. However, this talk will argue that mastery of a domain and entry into a discourse community involves more than this; both of these things can occur only once a student has been able to “master” him/herself.
But what is this “self-mastery” and how can we guide students towards achieving it? This talk will draw upon theories from the emerging field of Positive Psychology, showing how notions such as self-efficacy, mindfulness and flow can be interwoven with concepts more commonly associated with EAP (e.g. learner autonomy, motivation and noticing) to propose a framework for mastery of the academic self. The application of these proposed strategies in the classroom is intended to empower students not only to enter their chosen discourse community but also to leave their mark on it.
Presentation slides: https://baleappimglasgow.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/glasgow-pim_a_palanac.pdf