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• I compared stance expression in HG and LG papers in two undergraduate courses.
• Stance is expressed via self-mentions, hedges, boosters, attitude, and disclaim markers.
• Papers in ‘Econ’ expressed stance more frequently than ‘PolTh’ papers.
• HG papers expressed stance more frequently than LG papers across courses.
• HG papers projected greater contrastiveness, critical distance, and discoursal alignment.
The expression of stance—defined broadly as expression of attitudes, epistemic judgments, and interactional involvement—is increasingly recognized as an important, though hidden, feature of both expert and student academic writing, one with potentially “much impact on the success of writing” ( Wingate, 2012, p. 147). The study this article reports is motivated by the question of whether there are stance-taking qualities in undergraduate students' coursework writing that, in addition to being valued within specific course contexts, are valued across contexts. Specifically, it presents results from a corpus-based comparative analysis of stance in high- and low-graded papers written in two distinct undergraduate courses at a university in the United States. The investigation reveals both contextual specificity and overlap across the HG papers. It shows that the HG papers in both courses expressed stance with significantly greater frequency than the corresponding LG papers and in ways that project greater contrastiveness, critical distance, and positive alignment with disciplinary concepts. These three stance qualities, I suggest, are a part of a general novice academic stance that may be implicitly expected in students' coursework writing across a range of contexts, especially formal assignments calling for “critical analysis” and evidence-based argumentation.
Journal: Journal of English for Academic Purposes - Volume 23, September 2016, Pages 16–30