27.3566, Diss: Student-Instructor Apologies: How Are They Produced and Perceived?

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LINGUIST List: Vol-27-3566. Sun Sep 11 2016. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 27.3566, Diss: Student-Instructor Apologies: How Are They Produced and Perceived?

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Date: Sun, 11 Sep 2016 21:23:24
From: Dongmei Cheng [dongmei.cheng at tamuc.edu]
Subject: Student-Instructor Apologies: How Are They Produced and Perceived?

 
Institution: Northern Arizona University 
Program: Applied Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2013 

Author: Dongmei Cheng

Dissertation Title: Student-Instructor Apologies: How Are They Produced and
Perceived? 

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                     Pragmatics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)


Dissertation Director(s):
Randi Reppen
Mary McGroarty

Dissertation Abstract:

Despite the emerging emphasis on the importance of teaching speech acts,
teachers often find it difficult to enable second language learners to carry
out important pragmatic functions at crucial times during university studies.
This study reports a multipronged approach in describing apologies made by
students to instructors in academic contexts. Various features of student
apology productions are presented, as well as self and audience perceptions of
communicative effectiveness, collected from both the student apologizers and
instructor addressees. 

Apologies were collected from 60 native English speakers (NS) and 63 nonnative
English speakers (NNS). Participants generated apologies via email (n = 63) or
recorded speech (n = 60) for three typical academic situations: missing a
lecture, missing an appointment, and turning in an assignment late. Apologies
were analyzed for their semantic, linguistic, and selected acoustic
characteristics. In both spoken and emailed apologies, NNSs used semantic
strategies different from NSs; their apologies were usually shorter and
contained a narrower range of stance markers. In making spoken apologies, NNSs
demonstrated slower speech rates but wider pitch ranges than NSs. Perceptual
data collected via verbal protocols showed that NS and NNS students differed
in their understanding of the severity of situations, power relationships, and
social distances. Both groups reported receiving minimal formal instruction on
making apologies.

Instructor (n = 150) perceptions of student apologies gathered via online
surveys showed that although instructors gave higher mean ratings to NS
apologies, those did not always receive higher ratings than NNS apologies.
Instructors valued the fact that students took responsibility in apologizing,
offering specific explanations, and writing or uttering the message politely
and respectfully. Poorly rated apology messages usually had multiple
grammatical mistakes, did not contain sufficient or valid evidence, and
inconvenienced the instructors or made rude requests.

Natural student-instructor apologies were identified from emails (n = 106) and
the office-hour sub-register of spoken corpora of academic communication (n =
15). Linguistic and semantic characteristics of authentic emailed apologies
were largely in line with those of elicited emailed apologies. 

Good academic communication affects student success. This research not only
sheds light on ways to identify problems in student apologies but also
suggests the necessity of integrating pragmatic advice into traditional
language instruction in second language classrooms.




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