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Taking an effective authorial stance in academic writing: Inductive learning for second language writers using a stance corpus

, University of Michigan, United States

University of Michigan . Awarded


The study focuses on a pedagogical proposal using a specialized corpus to assist advanced second language (L2) writers to tackle a critical aspect in academic research writing, authorial stance-taking. Novice L2 writers are often found to project an unauthoritative persona and inappropriate voice, therefore compromising their research potential. Premised on linguistic (Systemic Functional Linguistic and Corpus Linguistics) and learning theories, the study tested the hypotheses that (1) rendering explicit the complex linguistic stance resources is beneficial to inform ways to argue with a persuasive authorial stance, and (2) corpora tools encourage inductive pattern-finding, which brings about deep learning and better performance.

Seven Chinese-speaking learners of English studying at post-graduate levels were recruited to engage in five sessions of training and interaction with the tool as they wrote introductions to their research. Multiple methods were employed to analyze (1) overall writing performance, (2) stance understanding, (3) the development of stance understanding, (4) cognitive patterns in interacting with the tool and in overall learning, and (5) tool use patterns.

Results show a positive relationship between stance learning and writing performance, suggesting that better understanding of stance meanings contributes to better writing. The semantically-oriented corpus also engaged the learners' to manage the discursive flow of their stance deployment, critical to greater effectiveness in their writing. Their cognitive learning patterns are characterized by more frequent "sense-making", "exploring" and "reasoning" about the complex new knowledge while inductive pattern-finding is infrequent.

The findings suggest training and more support are need to maximize a constructivist inductive learning approach. In addition, individual learning styles and preconception are both critical in dictating learning outcome. Learners' cognitive burden in learning complex linguistic concept using a second language also need to be considered. Finally, to encourage use of such a corpus tool, more examples need to be included so that the users find convincing patterns of stance deployment which is also relevant to their argumentative style and disciplinary background.

To conclude, to better support academic writers, corpora tools show great potential in hosting examples at the discursive/textual level to complement a lexico-grammatical approach in writing. Such tools, along with annotation and textual enhancement, can stimulate the writers' attention to the structural and prosodic aspects of the professional writings, critical to the success of a writing task.


Chang, P. Taking an effective authorial stance in academic writing: Inductive learning for second language writers using a stance corpus. Ph.D. thesis, University of Michigan. Retrieved October 21, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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