Linguistic and Epistemology Challenges in Research Writing: An Exploratory Study of Chinese Graduate Students’ Academic Writing Experiences
The purpose of this grounded theory study was to examine the difficulties faced and strategies used by Chinese graduate students with English academic writing at an American university. Eight graduate students majoring in humanities and social sciences at different stages of their graduate studies were interviewed. The interview data illustrated the types of difficulties that these students encountered and the types of coping strategies they used in the process of adapting to the requirement of specific disciplinary written discourses. Difficulties and problems varied across the curriculum and the individuals. Some common problems included insufficient linguistic knowledge, being unfamiliar with academic writing conventions and gaps in the epistemological assumptions between U.S. and China’s academia. One of the biggest gaps is lack of critical thinking skills among Chinese students and different attitudes towards verification in writing. These difficulties and problems reflect the complexity of writing as a socially constructed activity that requires necessary linguistic knowledge as well as familiarization with cultural models, i.e., ways of thinking, believing and valuing that are associated with the disciplinary discourses. The results of the study suggest that this group of Chinese graduate students had received limited training in English academic writing before they came to U.S and they brought with them to the U.S. classrooms writing experiences that at times differ from the writing conventions of the American academia and, therefore, need assistance in order to successfully adjust to the new academic environment. This study also showed that there is not enough social help for those international graduate students. For most of them, adjusting to the U.S. academic written discourse is mainly a trial-and-error process. Therefore efficient social help from the peers, professors and curriculum is needed.
Linguistic and Epistemology Challenges in Research Writing: An Exploratory Study of Chinese Graduate Students’ Academic Writing Experiences, International Journal of Language and Linguistics.
Vol. 7, No. 6,
2019, pp. 245-254.
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