The pragmatics of feedback: a study of mitigation in the supervisory discourse of TESOL teacher educators
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 02:13 authored by Ruth Wajnryb
This research project investigates the language of supervisory conferences. A grounded theory approach is taken to the analysis of data drawn from teacher educators in TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) in their feedback discussions with teachers following observed lessons.--Supervisory talk is investigated within a linguistic framework of politeness theory: while the supervisory role includes the obligation of criticism, the act of criticism is constrained by the face-to-face encounter of the supervisory conference. A central construct is the notion of fragility: the supervisory conference-an event which is equated with the talk that achieves it - is considered to be inherently fragile. The aim of the project is to investigate the language so as to uncover the source of the fragility.--Findings suggest that the perceived tension derives from a tug-of-war of essential elements: while the supervisory position affords discoursal power (the right to raise and pursue topics, take long turns, drive the discourse etc), the fa-threatening nature of the event obliges supervisors to resort to social/strategic skills to protect the teacher's face, as well as their own. The textualisation of this restraint takes the form of linguistic mitigation - devices rooted in syntax and semantics that allow supervisors to undercut the force of their own assertions. Mitigation is posited as the means by which supervisors resolve the clash-of-goals that is central to their role. However, mitigation is risky because it may interfere with message clarity.-- The product of the grounded study is a typology of utterance-level mitigation. The typology has three macro-categories (syntactic, semantic and indirectness) and fourteen sub-categories.-- The study was triangulated through an ethnographic investigation of supervisory concerns about feedback; and through an experiment designed to gauge teachers' perceptions of variously mitigated supervisory language. Findings from both studies corroborate the central tenet by contributing images of supervision that support the clash-of-goals thesis.--The projected applied outcome is in supervisor training where, it is suggested, strategic training delivered in a framework of politeness theory would reduce the unwitting dependence on mitigation and hence the risk of message distortion.--Suggestions for further research conclude the study.
Alternative TitleStudy of mitigation in the supervisory discourse of TESOL teacher educators
Table of ContentsIntroduction The research question and the professional context of the inquiry -- Literature review: substantive survey -- Literature review: methodological survey -- Research method -- The prgamatics of feedback -- An ethnographic portrait of supervision -- Perceptions of mitigation -- Conclusion.
Awarding InstitutionMacquarie University
Degree TypeThesis PhD
DegreeThesis (PhD), Macquarie University, School of Education
Department, Centre or SchoolSchool of Education
Year of Award1994
Principal SupervisorHarry Thompson
RightsCopyright disclaimer: http://www.copyright.mq.edu.au Copyright Ruth Wajnryb 1994.
Former Identifiersmq:3116 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/23100 1284278
English teachersEnglish language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakersEnglish teachers -- Training of -- AustraliaInterpersonal communicationStudent teachers -- Supervision ofLanguage teachersCommunication in personnel managementStudent teachersEnglish languageFeedback (Psychology)Language teachers -- Training of -- Australia