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Learning to Become a Professional in a Textually-Mediated World

A Text-Oriented Study of Placement Practices


Ken Lau

The book presents a text-based study of discourse practices in placement, a hybrid zone which re-contextualises academic knowledge and professional practices. Using Lave and Wenger’s Communities of Practice as the overarching theoretical framework, the study investigates how novices learn to write like their professional counterparts. By collecting texts completed in various placement contexts and in-depth qualitative interviews with informants, the study features a multi-dimensional approach to the analysis of discourse practices in terms of text construction and text consumption. The issues of genre, feedback, identity and role associated with placement learning are brought into focus.


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5. Genre and Practice: Interactions of Genre-Based Practices in Placement 109


109 5 Genre and Practice: Interactions of Genre-Based Practices in Placement Genres are intimately linked to a discipline’s methodology, and they package information in ways that conform to a discipline’s norms, values, and ideology. Understanding the genres of written communication in one’s field is, therefore, essential to professional success. (Berkenkotter/Huckin 1995: 1) The traditional notion of genre aligns communicative purpose and discourse structure of texts through identifying “a set of formally definable text features that certain texts have in common across various contexts” (Russell 1997a: 513). The major purpose of undertaking genre analysis, following this view, then was oriented to pedagogy and sought ‘stability’ and “routine operation” (Russell 1997a: 516). For example, the Create a Research Space (CARS) model posited by Swales (1990) helps writers structure the introductory section of a research article. Bhatia (1994, 2005), nevertheless, contested this simplistic view of genre, criticising the fact that this only takes into account text-internal factors. Having realised that professional texts are often embedded within more than one genre, i.e., genre mixing or interdiscursivity, Bhatia raised the question of genre integrity, arguing that genres can only be fully understood by considering both text-internal and text-external factors. His work on genre integrity has practical relevance to this study because placement texts, accomplished by STWs who assume hybrid identities as student-professionals, exhibit the characteristics of both academic and professional genres as mentioned in the last chapter. In Chapter 4, I used two texts, the social work session report and physiotherapy Sci Clinical Teaching Report,...

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