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PhD supervisor-PhD student interactions in an English-medium Higher Education (HE) setting: Expressing disagreement
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2015 (English)In: European Journal of Applied Linguistics, ISSN 2192-953X, Vol. 3, no 2, 205-229 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

According to the latest figures, the increase in English-taught programs in European Higher Education (HE) has been tremendous at a growth rate of 500% since 2002 (Wächter and Maiworm 2014). In all these HE institutes, English serves as the main lingua franca for students and staff. The present paper reports from such a HE setting in Sweden and focuses on how disagreement is expressed in PhD supervisor-PhD student supervision meetings, a spoken genre largely neglected in the study of spoken academic discourse. The material comprises digitally-recorded, naturally-occurring speech adding up to approximately seven hours, all by PhD supervisors and students from different L1 backgrounds, who all use English as a lingua franca. All recordings have been transcribed, and the instances of disagreement have been analysed by a mixed-methods approach, drawing on Conversation Analysis (CA). The results show, first of all, that the PhD students directly construct disagreement with their supervisors on content-related advice despite the academic and institutional power asymmetry present in these interactions. The supervisors, on the other hand, seem to indirectly construct disagreement with their students. It is suggested here that linguistic competence and content knowledge may be two factors mitigating the power asymmetry. Also, the expression of disagreement does not seem to be perceived as confrontational by either the supervisors or students. On the contrary, disagreement seems to be typical of this spoken genre in this setting, implying that it may even be a “preferred second” turn in this spoken genre with reference to the enculturation of the PhD student into the academic community.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 3, no 2, 205-229 p.
Keyword [en]
PhD supervision, disagreement, English-medium Higher Education
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119211DOI: 10.1515/eujal-2015-0011ISI: 000363058400004OAI: diva2:843972
Available from: 2015-08-02 Created: 2015-08-02 Last updated: 2015-11-11Bibliographically approved

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Björkman, Beyza
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Department of English
General Language Studies and Linguistics

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