Date of Award

7-15-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

David I. Hanauer, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Abstract

This research aims to improve scholarly understandings of doctoral feedback practices, thereby exploring how doctoral students develop their academic writing abilities. Specifically, I was interested in how individual writers incorporate all the information available to them and how each source of feedback interacts with the others in the writing process. Unlike previous studies, feedback in this study also includes various forms of advice that can influence an understanding of a task as well as discipline-specific knowledge and linguistic accuracy. To address the contextualized nature of this project, I employed a case study approach (Yin, 2009). This approach involved the coded content analysis of interviews with students and their professors, drafts with written feedback, and observations of literacy practices in doctoral courses embedded in a graduate school in the mid-Atlantic region. Two separate coding systems were developed for this research: one for the types of feedback that students received and one for the learning outcomes that the participants reported throughout the semester. Drawing on the frameworks of academic socialization (Duff, 2007) and communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991), the results of this study corroborate and extend the limited empirical evidence to date by showing that graduate feedback addresses professional enculturation in a broad sense. Feedback needs to be understood as a situated social practice that facilitates a multidirectional academic socialization. Developing academic writing is an ongoing process of academic socialization and constructing a professional identity, which enables students to learn ways of writing and presenting arguments in specific disciplines. This is partly grounded in the dynamics between learner agency and the diverse, overlapping communities of practice to which student writers belong. The participants' networks of feedback are manifestations of their diverse patterns of membership in these overlapping communities. From a pedagogical perspective, the present research also reveals the full extent of the positive impact of multiple sources of feedback. This study moves the knowledge of academic writing forward by situating the empirical evidence for the nature of doctoral feedback within the current efforts of understanding doctoral writing, especially during the initial years of doctoral education.

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