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Title: 'They cannot write as well as we expect; why'? : a multi-case study of stakeholders' perceptions of factors that hinder graduates of colleges of technology mastering technical writing skills requested in the Omani market
Author: Al Hinai, Issa Abdullah Said
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 5474
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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This project addresses a continuing problem in technical education: the perceived mismatch between the report writing skills of technical college graduates and the demands of report writing in the workplace. This problem is commonly identified in surveys of employers, who express dissatisfaction with the writing skills of their new hires, and has most often been examined with surveys of alumni from these colleges, who express dissatisfaction with the writing preparation they received (Al- Mahrooqi & Denman, 2016). The study is specifically designed to find out why graduates of Colleges of Technology (CoT) have difficulty in performing technical report writing tasks as well as expected by workplace managers and how academic text features are different from or similar to professional text features. This project took a new approach to investigating the problem. This multi-case study employed the combined use of semi-structured interviews and document analysis methods. This involved a total of 19 interviews with (1) report writing tutors and courses designers and students in three (COT) and (2) employees and their employers in local telecommunication and banking firms. The project then focused on the empirical analysis of structural and linguistic features in a corpus of 168 reports written by numerous students of CoT and by practitioners from the firms. This combination brought multiple perspectives to the interpretation of the issue being investigated in relation to the different participants, but also contextualised the analysis of the texts within the social and cultural situations from which the participants came. Findings suggested that CoT graduates' experience with writing for workplace purposes in the contexts of the study is influenced by both institutional and contextual factors. These factors interact to hinder the graduates’ mastery of context-appropriate writing. The key institutional factors are a) task requirements, and b) awareness of texts’ audience. The key contextual factor is the absence of coordination between the two investigated contexts, namely CoT and corporates. Within each of these broad categories, there are also subcategories that further demonstrate the complexity of graduates’ writing and the multitude of elements that shape graduates’ writing in both university and future workplace. The thesis concludes by presenting practical and theoretical implications for corporate officials, teachers, and course designers. The study recommends that internal and external communication is needed between CoT and corporates as through the establishment of such effective channels of communication between these camps we will be able to bridge the current perceived gap and better equip graduates for the challenges of workplace writing. It is hoped that in addressing the research aims these findings may be beneficial to understanding the contextual factors that assist or hamper the progress of the undergraduates' technical writing. It is also anticipated that such a comprehension may guide course designers, writing tutors, and discipline lecturers to detect the preparations required to best sustain students' negotiation of technical writing to better prepare students to adapt to the demands of academic and work contexts.
Supervisor: Durrant, Philip ; Jones, Susan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available