Visualizing genre knowledge: metacognitive scaffolds in the L2 writing for research classroom.
Conference contribution, 2017
Genre analysis (Swales, 1990) as a pedagogical approach has proven to be a powerful catalizer of students’ understanding of writing as disciplinary communication and a means to knowledge construction (e.g. Hyland, 2007, 2010). Nonetheless, key voices within genre pedagogy (Johns, 2011, Devitt, 2015) have called for more research into activities that scaffold students beyond the acquisition of rhetorical structures, towards an awareness of genres as variable and the performance og genre across disicpinary contexts and time. Could we combine this aim with creative ways of conceptualizing writing? Our study explores how visualization in the EAP classroom can contribute to this goal. Visualization has already proven promising for students’ revision, as the technique promotes a conceptual perspective on text and a meta-awareness of what is missing (Olmanson et al., 2015). In light of these findings, the aim of our ”genre visualization” task is twofold: first, to help students summarize their observations about the scientific genres in their specific research area (genre awareness); and second, to derive concrete insights that could be applied to their ongoing writing (genre performance). A course for PhD students in various hard sciences was selected, as visualizations, or graphic representations of concepts, phenomena or data play a key role in the ideation of scientific research articles (Curry, 2014). At the end of the course, students submit a visual representation of research-based writing in their specific scientific community, accompanied by a written reflection on genre characteristics observed, how these charactersistics reflect the goals of their community, and which specific observations they can apply to their immediate writing context. The data is analyzed qualitatively to identify themes and commonalities in the way students depict their specific community's genre practices, and reveals how creative pedagogical activities may scaffold students towards a metacognitive and self-regulated use of genre analysis.