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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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6. Moving towards Disciplinary Practices: Roles of Feedback and Revision in Placement Learning 145


145 6 Moving towards Disciplinary Practices: Roles of Feedback and Revision in Placement Learning Providing marker feedback is an opportunity for the experienced members of the discourse community to frame the discipline’s discursive practices for novice participants. (Woodward-Kron 2004: 142) An important aspect in second language writing research is novice writers’ use of feedback to revise the texts produced. The above quote from Woodward-Kron (2004) implies that feedback is crucial to novices’ appropriation of genres and specific repertoires in attaining the generic competence that allows them to participate meaningfully in the various activities and achieve the goals of a specific community. In other words, novices, at the early stage of enculturation in particular, need to be guided upon their choices of appropriate content, vocabulary, register, tone and be directed attention to the accepted norms, values, practices and culture-specific sensitivity in the context where the writing is produced. Feedback from experienced members is one of the effective means of drawing novices towards respective disciplinary practices; therefore, it is worth noting that feedback has an indispensable value in pedagogy and learning. The texts under scrutiny in most feedback research are academic writing; the feedback given is mostly language-related and the ultimate agent being influenced is confined to texts or within the level of textual space. However, the point of departure of my study is ‘learning in a professional context’ and so my research into feedback concerns how feedback can facilitate novices’ learning to write workplace documents like their professional counterparts; and more...

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