Reflections on Teaching Discourse Functions Using a Science Thesis
Keywords:discourse functions, rhetorical functions, graduate writing, thesis, dissertation, ESL
This paper presents a novel approach to the teaching of discourse functions, such as defining, comparing, hedging, and so on, in an advanced graduate writing course for international students. Rather than relying on made-up examples or those drawn from a variety of sources as is typically the case with writing textbooks, all of the examples are drawn from a single exemplary doctoral thesis in cryobiology. It is argued that such an approach can serve as a useful supplement to the course textbook and other resources, as well as providing doctoral students with a peer model for their own writing. Following a brief discussion of discourse functions in writing, explanations and examples of eleven discourse functions garnered from the cryobiology thesis are presented, along with a description of how the material is integrated into the second half of a graduate writing course to help students fill in gaps and review discourse functions encountered in previous study.
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