Text production in undergraduate education : functional and cognitive complexities
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This work explores the functional and cognitive complexities involved in written text production in undergraduate education. The objects of analysis are texts produced in the Grammar II course by students in the teaching, translation and research-oriented English study programs at Facultad de Lenguas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. Although the study has been carried out in a foreign language and in a specific field, it has been based on the belief that many of the problems observed are also present in texts produced in other disciplines and in the L1. Drawing on the theoretical and methodological tools of the ‘Sydney School’ (Martin & Rose, 2008; Rose & Martin, 2012), which relies on the general conceptual framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 1985; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014), the study analyzes the structuring of knowledge in students’ texts and the contextual appropriateness of the organization of information in those texts. After this empirical stage, the work shows that although the SFL theory can account for the functional and some of the cognitive complexities involved in disciplinary written text production, it seems not to fully explain how knowledge becomes available for the production of effective texts, i.e. texts that respond to the demands of new contexts. Finally, it suggests a possible articulation of this framework with a cognitive theory of knowledge development known as Representational Redescription (RR) (Karmiloff-Smith, 1992, 2002, 2006), which explains how representations become restructured, manipulable and available to be meaningfully used in new contexts. The dialogue between these two theoretical perspectives is expected to provide insights that should lead to a deeper understanding of disciplinary writing in undergraduate education and enrich pedagogical interventions in content-oriented literacy.
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