A Study of Theme and Information Structure in Postgraduate Business Students' Multimodal Written Texts: An SF-MDA of Management Accounting Texts

Conference Paper
Publication Work Type: 
Paper presented at the Official Conference Proceedings of the ACLL 2015
Management Accounting literacy; thematic progression; Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL); Multimod
Conference Name: 
The Asian Conference on Language Learning
Conference Location: 
Conference Date: 
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Sponsoring Organization: 
The International Academic Forum
Publication Abstract: 

THEME and INFORMATION structure facilitate the development of well-structured text, thereby providing cohesion within language. Systemic functional linguistics’ (SFL) research in multimodal business communication and representation has been confined to workplace and school contexts. Similarly, empirical research studies of finance have investigated students’ performance in finance courses and the effect of class attendance on students’ performance. However, no published study has explored and analysed the textual features in tertiary finance texts. The importance of examining THEME and INFORMATION structure in tertiary settings becomes pertinent since it plays a vital role in maximising accounting students’ learning experiences. The study aims to explore the multimodal literacy and numeracy social
practices of five first-year Master of Commerce Accounting international students enrolled at an Australian university. It is of interest as most international ESL/EFL students in Australia and elsewhere are enrolled in business programs (Alyousef & Picard, 2011).

This study reports on a case study designed to investigate and analyse the use of THEME and INFORMATION structure in a key topic in the Management Accounting course, namely budgeting schedules. It employed the multidimensional approach proposed by Alyousef (2013) to describe the participants’ learning experiences and to investigate and explore the organisation of the multimodal texts. The Systemic Functional Multimodal Discourse Analysis (SF-MDA) revealed the frequency of two patterns: Theme reiteration and the linear pattern. Theme reiteration in accounting is used to define the accounting numerical values. Thematic choices in the budgeting tables are constrained by the authoritative source of knowledge for the presentation of information structure in accounting statements. A number of other interesting findings
related to the flow of information structure in the multimodal tables are presented and discussed. The study concludes with the pedagogical implications of the findings.

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