Balancing the Competing Interests in Seminar Discussion: Peer Referencing and Asserting Vulnerability
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Balancing the Competing Interests in Seminar Discussion: Peer Referencing and Asserting Vulnerability

  • Author(s): Waring, Hansun Zhang
  • et al.
Abstract

As Jacoby and McNamara (1999) have convincingly demonstrated, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) assessment tools with primarily a linguisticfocus can fail to locate the competence actually needed in real-world professional settings. In a similar vein, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) pedagogical activities rooted in an unsituated notion of academic English can also be inadequate or misleading. Through a sequential analysis of actual interactions, this study describes the real-world discourse activities performed by competent native and normative speakers to handle complex academic tasks. Using data from a graduate seminar, I detail two interactional resources ( "peer referencing " and "asserting vulnerability") exercised by the seminar participants in the doing of disagreement and critique. I show that these resources are invoked to accomplish the double-duty of acknowledging another's viewpoint while performing a potentially disagreeing action, to make an otherwise independently advanced critique into a co-constructed one, or to back down from forcefully articulated positions. Finally, I hypothesize that the particular use of peer referencing and asserting vulnerability characterizes the members' transitional stage between undergraduate novicehood and doctoral level junior expertise.

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