Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Topic management : the 'about what-ness' of interaction in student university meetings
Author: El-Wakai, Khadija
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 1073
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This study adopts a multimodal conversation analytic approach to the study of educational talk-in-interaction. Specifically, it investigates the management of topical talk in student university meetings within the context of problem-based learning. The analyses draw on a close micro-analytic account of topic initiation, topic development, topic termination and topic transition. It also examines various multi-semiotic resources that the participants utilise during the ongoing sequences of interaction, including gaze, gesture and body posture, as well as orientations to meeting artefacts such as meeting agendas as transition-relevant objects. This approach is consistent with the position that interaction is holistic and multifaceted (Nguyen, 2012). In this respect, and to the best of the researcher's knowledge, this is the first study to investigate topic management in student university meetings from a multimodal perspective. It looks at how participants utilise verbal and non-verbal resources to perform an organised sequence of actions according to a certain context to secure a particular outcome. The data is taken from the Newcastle University Corpus of Academic Spoken English (NUCASE) (Walsh, 2014), a one-million-word corpus of academic spoken English, recorded in various sites across the university and incorporating small group sessions from the three faculties of the university: Humanities and Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Science, Agriculture and Engineering. The NUCASE data comprise spoken interactions recorded in seminars, student group meetings, tutorials, PhD supervisions, staff-student consultations, English language classes and sessions involving informal learner talk. The aim of this corpus is to provide a 'snapshot' of spoken academic discourse across a range of higher education contexts where there is interactivity. In this study, five transcribed hours of video and audio recordings were analysed, comprising a series of group meetings involving a single group of six undergraduate students working on their final year project for a BSc in Naval Architecture Some of the analyses illustrate that topic management and multimodal resources are intertwined. This is evident in the chairperson's organised sequential moves through the utilisation of multi-semiotic resources and orientations to meeting artefacts. These sequential moves are employed to signal and make the disjunctive topic transition to the next topic of their meeting. It also illustrates how topic transitions are accepted and oriented to by the co-participants. Moreover, the analysis demonstrates the extent to which multiple bodily movements co-occur, which is still not well explored in topic management. It suggests that certain interactional and multimodal resources are utilised by the primary speaker to include a certain participant in topic development. It also reveals the utilisation and interplay of bodily resources to display different forms of topic resistance. Finally, the analyses show how the ii timing, placement and the design of a turn are very crucial to manage the topics of the meetings. The analyses in this thesis have implications for the study of topic management by clarifying the relationship between topic management and multimodality which can deepen our understanding of how topics are managed not only in meeting interactions, but also from a broader perspective. Finally, the analyses have direct implications for higher education research by examining student university meetings as a truly multimodal enterprise and considering how students manage their meeting interaction with no tutor presence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available