Redefining the Task: An Ethnographic Examination of Writing and Response in Graduate Seminars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores EAP needs analysis for academic writing tasks. Reflecting on a series of qualitative studies of students' writing and professors' responses in graduate seminars, Prior traces the evolution of his research methodology toward increasingly detailed ethnographic designs and of his theoretical understanding toward sociohistoric perspectives on discourse and knowledge. Examining how academic writing tasks were cued, produced, read, and evaluated by particular participants over time, Prior finds that tasks are complexly shaped by the multiple histories, activities, and goals that participants bring to and create within seminars. Prior's depiction of the situated processes professors and students engage in as they dialogically construct academic genres raises key issues in EAP theory and pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAcademic Writing in a Second Language
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Research and Pedagogy
EditorsDiane Belcher, George Braine
Place of PublicationNorwood, NJ
ISBN (Print)978-1-56750-115-5, 978-1-56750-116-2
StatePublished - 1995


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