Assignment 2

Length: Part A: your proposal 5000 – 7500 words

The Writing Requirements in an Omani English Medium Tertiary Institution



  • Introduction

This research is concerned with English Academic writing in Oman.  It will examine the writing tasks set a assessment items in an Omani tertiary institution.

Setting –

small college

My relationship to the research

I am a teacher also a member of two task groups 1. Writing to scrutinise and advise on the teaching of writing in the foundation program particularly in the final semester.Writing has been identified as one of the major challenges facing students in the Foundation Program at CAS.  In order to improve the outcomes of the program, teachers at each of the four foundation levels have begun to review the writing content of the program in order to decide how well it meets students’ needs.   2  Research – tasked with establishing a research culture within the College.  Some research already happens at the college but No official processes currently exist to facilitate this.  Some researchers seek approval from varying levels of administration others function entirely independently and have participants sign consent forms.

Research Aim:

to establish the writing requirements of students in an Omani tertiary institution.  This information will be of benefit to the foundation program in terms of informing curriculum design by providing precise linguistic descriptions what students need to be able to achieve. What is needed as opposed to what we think is good writing.

2.0 Research Focus

  • Statement of the problem

Writing has been identified as a problematic skill for Omani students.

we are preparing students for a western style university but they are in Oman.  Is it necessary or even desirable to tie English to academic style?

  • Statement of significance

Thorough identification of the task types CAS students will need to produce during their degree studies has not previously been done.

  • The research question

What are the writing requirements in two of the subjects in the Communication degree in the Colleges of Applied Sciences, Oman?

What text types are required to fulfil these assessment requirements?

What features are specifically required of these texts according to the marking matrixes?

What are the textual features of high scoring answers?

Written task descriptions, marking matrixes and student produced responses to these tasks will be deconstructed using a number of established SFL frameworks.  By this method it is hoped that the genres and genre feature of the required texts can be identified.  Add to theory by mapping in a considering the specific social purposes of this EFL context.  It may also identify if there are some features in these texts that cannot be adequately accounted for by the existing frameworks.  If so some additions to the frameworks may be suggested, thereby adding to theory creation.  While this case study is set in Oman there simlarits to other gulf contries and some issusee perhaps to EFL in general.

  • Limitations of the study

Although I am in some ways a passionate participant I am substantially an outsider to this culture or, more specifically to the many cultures of the staff and students at the university.

  • Definition of terms


3.0    Review of the literature

Background: English 3rd language for many students – their 1s (jebali) having no written form, their 2nd (Arabic) disglossic was probably the language of instruction in their school.

  • issue 1
  • past research on English literacy and education in Oman
  • issue 2
  • –bernstein’s model of the social semiotic theory – context of language as codes.SFL Halliday / genre theory and English academic requirements including ESL

Malinowski/ Halliday context of situation context of culture

Bakhtin spheres of communication

distinguished register from genre (Genre Relations) Sydney school

What literature exists to tell me the task types?

issue 3

(Chappel) claims that the role of English in EFL situations need to be redefined because learners will have few opportunities to interact in English and when they do the majority of these interactions  will be with non native English speakers.

EFL issues including post colonial idea of language subversion.

Martin in Humphry how cultures may be appropriated and re-worked.- positive discourse analysis.p17p1

Do the same genres and descriptions of these genres apply in this EFL setting?

4.0 Theoretical framework

(Genre relations book)

A genre analysis approach underpinned by Systemic Functional Linguistics  – language in context

Theological and methodological traditions of the Sydney school.

5.0 Research methodology

  • Research paradigm

Interpretivist/ Constructivist:

ontology: Relativist           Meaning developed socially

epistemology:   Post-Structuralist          objective final interpretation of text impossible; meaning subjective, embedded in context

  • Methodology
  • 4×4 framework

Genre Analysis

My choices are limited by my status as an outsider to this culture.  This is most notably manifest in my lack of Arabic.  The students and even the teachers at the college have varying levels of English ability.  This suggested that methodologies requiring interviews or survey would be problematic as questions may be misundertood or participants may be unable to express what they really want to say.  Translation was a possiblity but also not ideal ().

Genre analyses can be conducted by collecting already existing English only data and does not require the creation of further data from communication.

genre is goal oriented process

Categories of text type – Purpose of text

Influenced by culture

Register variables of tenor, field and mode.            Genre provides an additional strata of analysis (genrebook)

Understanding in terms of teachable linguistic concepts such as nominalisation, theme 7 rheme

Because it is deconstructing the text purely to form descriptions, there is less potential for my western ESL teacher biases to have an adverse affect on the results.  

6.0    Research design

  • Participants
  • Data gathering instruments/Method
  • Procedure (optional depending on method)

Initially a small pilot study will be undertaken.  The pilot is desirable for two main reasons. Firstly, I have had no experienced with this methodology and relatively little experience in working in Oman.  I feel the need to conduct a pilot as a learning experience.  It will help inform my choices about the final research design such as how much data I need to collect and can realistically manage within the time frame, or how long it will take to collect the data given the College procedures I need to follow.  It will also provide me with some data to begin learning the analysis method.  I will be better placed to anticipate and overcome or circumnavigate potential problems.  Secondly, a pilot has the potential to immediately begin to work towards some of the individual goals of the research task force by suggesting protocols for obtaining ethical approval, or gaining participant consent, etc.   As advised by the DOS of foundation the subject will come from YEAR 2 COMMUNICATION

Collect samples of: assessment task descriptions

Marking matrixes for this I will need administrative assistance.possibly ask for access to the blackboard sites

Exemplars of High scoring completed tasks for two subjects within the communication degree.  Have to approach teachers or once again get it from blackboard/turnitin.

As there are 3 groups of teachers: English native speakers, Arabic native speakers, Other (this group is predominantly from the subcontinent), if possible, exemplars marked by teachers from all of the groups will be collected.

  • Data analysis

Using Genre Analysis/SFL text analysis

Top down analysis

  • Research rigour

7.0 Research ethics

Participant consent to use their work.     Need consent form translated. Ask teachers to have students sign.

Please confirm that data storage provisions meet the guidelines as outlined in the UNE Code of Conduct for Research, Section 2.1:

and under ‘Management of Research Data and Primary Materials’ in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007):

8.0 Research timeline






               Part B: the presentation of your proposal 3000 words equivalent


 B This element of the assignment is assigned an equivalent word count of 3000 words – this does not mean you are expected to write 3000 words on your presentation: the equivalence includes the overall visual organisation of your presentation. Please make this  minor part of your assignment – the most important element is Part A

Develop a power-point (or equivalent, eg Prezzi) presentation of your proposal consisting of no more than 8 slides (your actual CoC presentation is not allowed to be any more than 20 minutes). Your slides need to focus on:

  1. a brief background demonstrating WHY this research is important
  2. where the study sits in the literature
  3. your conceptual and/or theoretical framework
  4. more detailed methodology and methods – the aim is to demonstrate that what you are proposing to do is feasible, practical, sound and do-able
  5. a timeline
  6. any relevant ethical issues








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