A study of Interactional metadiscourse features in texts written by undergraduate students at the University of Botswana
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In recent years there has been an increased emphasis on the interpersonal function of metadiscourse features in academic texts. This means that research on writing in academic contexts began to focus on the rhetorical features, such as interactional metadiscourse, that writers use to present their voice in writing. These developments in academic writing have also considered the socio-cultural context in which specific genres are produced. Using a multiple-methods approach to genre analysis, this article compares students’ use of interactional metadiscourse features to present voice in two undergraduate courses, Media Studies and Primary Education at the University of Botswana. A total of 40 student essays were analysed. Interviews with students and lecturers) in the two departments were also done to understand the socio-cultural context in which the essays were produced. The comparison of interactional metadiscourse features in the two corpora indicated that interactional metadiscourse markers were present, but that there were variations in the use and distribution of these features by the learners. Contextual information shows that such variations reflect the different values and beliefs about academic writing of the discourse communities that students belong to. These values and beliefs can be problematic for EAP tutors who have to prepare students for writing in the various disciplines in L2 contexts.