Learning the language of uncertainty: assessing use of epistemic markers in academic writing within higher education

Wilson, Charlotte ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7523-2987 (2019) Learning the language of uncertainty: assessing use of epistemic markers in academic writing within higher education. In: 7th International AHE Conference 2019 (Assessment in Higher Education), 26-27 June 2019, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished) Full text not available from this repository.

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Assessment criteria in H.E. place varying weight on the structure, style and overall presentation of academic writing. These components may be typically weighted at 15% or appear only within grade descriptors under a demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in writing. Assessment criteria and formalised expectations of linguistic expressions would benefit from a greater consensus in approach in order to deliver consistency and transparency for learners. One aspect of academic writing is the use of epistemic markers – these terms are most relevant where knowledge is disputed and subject to interpretation. The most commonly used markers; adverbs, modal verbs and lexical verbs, set conditions on knowledge claims, and can be analysed according to their frequency, range, clustering and level of commitment to propositions (Vandenhoek, 2018). The use of the epistemic modality – moderating views by either hedging (weakening) or boosting (strengthening) a knowledge clam is associated with a greater sophistication in building argument, particularly in discursive writing at more advanced levels (Hyland, 1997). However, less is known about their expression in authentic student texts, or skill acquisition from level 3 to level 4 or throughout undergraduate study (Aull & Lancaster, 2014). The extent to which tutors are aware of the epistemic modality in learners’ written work or orientate to these expressions is also unknown. A corpus research study is discussed to explore the use of epistemic markers in balanced samples of work from students at different academic levels and non-native speaker status, in order to improve the rigour of assessment within H.E.

Aull, L. & Lancaster, Z. (2014) Linguistic Markers of Stance in Early and Advanced Academic Writing; A Corpus-based Comparison. Written Communication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088314527055
Hyland, K. (1997) Qualification and certainty in L1 and Level 2 students’ writing. Journal of Second Language Writing. Vol. 6. No. 2p183-205.
Vandenhoek, T. (2018 ) Epistemic markers in NS & NSS Academic Writing. Journal of Academic Writing. Vol.8 no.1 p72-91.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments: Professional Services > Student & Staff Services
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 09:17
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4969
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