Conference Papers

“Why can’t they just say it in a simpler way?!” Academic language, assumptions, and accessibility in a masters level education studies classroom; a diffractive analysis of ‘becoming’ academic through language.

The paper details an on-going PhD study of challenges faced by students grappling with academic language on a masters level education studies course. The research examines students’ collaboration with academic language and the implications for their relationship with it in their course based research and pedagogical practice. The study aims to understand the use and effects of academic language on a masters level education studies programme. The studies objective examines entanglements involved within language encounters in this environment, and their effects on students’ ‘becomings’ in the roles of student-researcher-academic-practitioner.

During the study’s progression, links between movement and academic language encounters have unfolded. The research is developing a novel methodology designed to capture the affective dimensions of communication in the masters classroom. Combining observation, interview, and film data I explore entanglements involved in academic language, learners’ ‘becomings’ and embodiment of academic roles. The paper presents the emerging ‘diffractive’ analysis (Barad, 2007; Jackson & Mazzei, 2011) of student perspectives of language expectations & assumptions, and their effects. The methodology blends Deleuzian theories of affect, assemblage and desire to generate alternative ideas of education based language research.

The paper examines the following key conclusions and discussion points;
– In research interviews, students undertaking the education masters course reported experiencing a significant ‘leap up’ from the language of their undergraduate degree. A necessary component for learning and assessments, yet often a hidden feature in academia, what are the effects of academic language assumptions for learners’ personal and professional progression?
– Whilst it is accepted that the difficulty of content increases at masters-level, students must firstly crack the codes of the language to be allowed to access the content. Considering this, what are the accessibility implications to learning associated with communicative competency at masters-level?
– Themes in students’ perspectives gathered in interviews suggests collaboration between peers may help unlock the language of their studies. How can this be implemented efficiently in a mixed cohort of students, researchers and practitioners?
The research will contribute to the theoretical and empirical literature on academic language, whilst also diversifying the methodologies used within the field of education research.

References
Barad, K. (2007) Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics & the entanglement of matter & meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.
Jackson, A.Y.Y. & Mazzei, L.A. (2011) Thinking with theory in qualitative research: Viewing data across multiple perspectives. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Evans, S. (2017) '“Why can’t they just say it in a simpler way?!” Academic language, assumptions, and accessibility in a masters level education studies classroom; a diffractive analysis of ‘becoming’ academic through language.', paper presented to The 13th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 29–30 June, viewed 19 January 2020, <https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=7456>