SUNConferences, LSSA / SAALA / SAALT Joint Annual Conference 2013

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Study guides: investigating the students’ view
Mari-Leigh Pienaar

Last modified: 2013-06-28


The role of study guides at tertiary institutions is very important – it is most often considered as a resource that provides information about the module contents, and it can also constitute a reader-writer relationship in which the lecturer of a study guide establishes a certain rapport with the students. This rapport is usually established through the use of specific linguistic elements, such as discourse markers and pronouns. While various textual and interpersonal factors have been analysed by Pienaar (2009, 2013), the students’ view and perception of these features have not yet been analysed.


In this paper, the question will be raised if students are aware of the factors that linguists consider to be problematic when they analyse study guides. Other problematic features in terms of textual and interpersonal metadiscourse that students notice will also be discussed.


The investigation will be done by means of the SMI iViewX RED™ eye tracker. Students will be asked to read sections of study guides that are problematic in terms of a linguistic analysis and they would be asked a set of questions to determine if they find these sections problematic at all. The data will be used to establish whether aspects that were identified by Pienaar (2009 & 2013) as linguistically problematic or that hindered textual accessibility, did in any way influence the students’ way of reading and comprehending. The main findings as well as students’ feedback on the rapport (reader-writer relationship) in the study guides will be discussed in this paper.