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A Study of the Use of Lexical Cohesion in Chinese Postgraduate Writing at a UK University

GUO, XUANHONG (2019) A Study of the Use of Lexical Cohesion in Chinese Postgraduate Writing at a UK University. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



As a key feature in the creation of coherent texts (Tanskanen, 2006), lexical cohesion is of critical importance for students’ academic performance. Chinese students, whose writing is the subject of this thesis, have been identified as lacking awareness of lexical cohesiveness in English academic writing (Zhang, 2000). In order to inform EAP pedagogy for them, this thesis used a corpus-based approach to conduct in-depth investigations of lexical cohesive devices used in Chinese postgraduates’ writing at a UK university. Based on Halliday and Hasan’s model (1976), an analytical framework for the analysis of lexical cohesion was developed in two corpora, incorporating a new sub-category of lexical cohesive device alongside modifications of existing categories. One corpus consisted of 52 module assignment samples (17,538 words) allocated into four marking-scale groups (failed, pass, merit and distinction), the other corpus comprising 45 dissertation excerpts (19,148 words) divided into five functional-section groups (introduction, literature review, methodology, findings/discussion, and conclusion). Applying this framework, manual analysis of the corpora identified homogeneities of lexical cohesion as context sensitivity, topic-based use of lexical cohesion, dominant use of repetition, and use of modifiers to indicate lexical cohesive relations, suggesting the value of context-based pedagogy and the need to teach complex lexical cohesive devices with exemplars. The results of the ANOVA test and the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test suggested a significant difference in the use of lexical cohesion between the marking-scale groups due to fewer repetition pairs identified in the merit group, and no statistically significant difference in overall the use of lexical cohesion among the functional-section groups although the function of each section influences the use of certain lexical cohesive devices. Several factors are proposed as influencing the use of lexical cohesion: topic variety, writers’ choice and function of texts, indicating the complexity of both applying and teaching lexical cohesion in academic writing.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Nov 2019 15:21

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