Will I, won’t I? Personal pronouns, grades, and changes over semesters in student academic writing
Keywords:student academic writing, Student grading, personal pronoun, Corpus Linguistics
This paper uses a corpus of first-year undergraduate Philosophy essays collected in a third level university in Ireland from the same group of students over two semesters to examine the relationship between the language used by these students and the grade received from the assessor. The corpus consists of 60 essays. The personal pronoun I within the argument and within the text as a whole is examined and compared across grades and across semesters. A number of reasons for the students choosing to use personal pronouns are identified and the correlation between these functions and the grade received is then explored. Furthermore, the change in the linguistic realization of these functions over the course of time is demonstrated. This data is used to argue that research into academic writing needs to be carried out over time, and that students need to be enabled to express their opinions and organize their texts in an appropriate manner.