Talking Academic Writing: A Conversation Analysis of One-to-One Writing Tutorials with Students from Vocational Backgrounds

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper sheds light on what happens behind the closed door of the academic writing tutorial. Whilst there has been some empirical research on classroom interaction and dyadic tutorials, there has been little examination of the talk that occurs between tutor and student in one-to-one academic writing tutorials. The paper will present the findings of a study that used conversation analysis (CA) to examine the talk of individual academic writing tutorials at a small college-based Higher Education (HE) campus, where many students have vocational backgrounds. Undergraduate students with vocational qualifications often have less experience with academic writing than their peers who study A-levels (Parry, 2012). However, college-based HE students also share many of the characteristics and challenges of ‘non-traditional’ HE students (Caldwell and Cattermole, 2015).The study aimed to understand how tutorials are organised, how identities are established and how learning is developed. Data from 17 tutorials carried out with students from a range of courses and years were analysed using CA (Drew & Heritage, 1992). The analysis revealed a number of strategies employed to negotiate goals between tutor and student, and how talk is used to achieve neutrality, correction and repair. Within this context, there is a paucity of research offering guidance for tutors to develop these strategies in the one-to-one tutorial. These findings will therefore fill this gap by providing a resource for practitioners to interrogate and reflect on good practice for conducting academic writing tutorials.
Period19 Jun 2017
Event title9th Conference of the European Association for Teaching Academic Writing: Academic Writing Now: Policy, Pedagogy and Practice
Event typeConference
Conference number9
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational