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Enacting the Curriculum in English for Academic Purposes: A Legitimation Code Theory Analysis

KIRK, STEVEN,EWEN (2018) Enacting the Curriculum in English for Academic Purposes: A Legitimation Code Theory Analysis. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This doctoral research project sought to better understand and articulate how English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is locally enacted. The context selected was a university summer pre-sessional programme for international students. At the time of data collection, I was the course director and the questions shaping the research emerged over a number of years in this role, primarily through the observation of teaching staff. Taking a case study approach and informed by a social realist lens (Bernstein, 1990; 2000; Maton, 2014), the research asked:

How is EAP locally enacted?
What are the organising principles underpinning this enactment?

Drawing on Bernstein's notion of recontextualisation and theorising of the epistemic pedagogic device (Maton, 2014, after Bernstein, 1990), the study explored the 'double enactment' of EAP: firstly, from the values and beliefs shaping the pre-sessional ethos into curriculum, and then from pedagogic materials into classroom practices. Data collection and analysis combined interviews with the course designers, examination of curriculum materials, and exploration of videos of teaching.

The analytical framework drew on two dimensions of Maton's Legitimation Code Theory, or 'LCT' (Maton, 2014), a development of Bernstein's code theory (Bernstein, 1977; 1990; 2000). These two dimensions were Specialisation and Semantics (Maton, 2014). Specialisation's component concepts of epistemic relations (relations between knowledge and its object of study) and social relations (relations between knowledge and knowers) were used to explore the macro-orientation and goals of the pre-sessional programme. The Semantics concept of semantic gravity (the relative context dependency of meaning) was then enacted to analyse the structuring principles of materials design and classroom recontextualisation.

LCT Specialisation analysis revealed a programme characterised by a stronger orientation to knowledge practices than to knower practices - i.e. an emphasis on understanding particular concepts and developing particular analytical skills, what Maton calls a trained gaze (Maton, 2014). Some curriculum-internal variation was also observed, however, enabling a nuanced view into practices. This orientation was found to shape programme thinking and design in important ways, informing both materials development and expectations of teaching.

LCT Semantics analysis revealed a local curriculum characterised by a relatively wide semantic range. Learning outcomes are geared towards both explicit understanding of core course concepts and scaffolded, spiralling opportunities for students to ground these concepts in academic writing and speaking practice. Movements across curriculum threads between concepts and practice create shifts in the context-dependency of curricular knowledge. These semantic gravity waves (Maton, 2013; Macnaught, Maton, Martin & Matruglio, 2013) over curriculum time may enable students to transfer some pre-sessional learning to texts, tasks and assessments not met on the course.

LCT Semantics analysis of the principles structuring lesson design and classroom practice suggest there may be underlying patterns, or what might be considered 'signature profiles'. Illustrations of practice are analysed and interpreted as exhibiting shifts in semantic gravity. These shifts are theorised as perhaps enhancing, but also sometimes hindering, effective enactment of the espoused curriculum.

LCT tools enacted for this research study enable making visible how local course values are reflected and refracted throughout an EAP programme, from the macro-design of curriculum, through individual lessons on the page to their material enactment in the classroom as pedagogic practice. The findings and the conceptual toolkit itself have implications and applications for EAP programme development, teacher education and wider sector understandings of the situated realisation of university-based curriculum and pedagogy.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:EAP; TEAP; LCT; English for Academic Purposes; Legitimation Code Theory; Recontextualisation; Knowledge Building; Social Realism; Curriculum; Enactment; Higher Education; Pedagogy; University Teaching
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Jan 2019 14:45

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