A study of cohesion in international postgraduate Business students' multimodal written texts: An SF-MDA of a key topic in finance

Journal Article
Alyousef, Hesham Suleiman . 2015
Publication Work Type: 
Research paper
literacy practice; cohesion analysis; Systemic Functional Linguistic; SFL; SF-MDA; discourse analysi
Magazine \ Newspaper: 
The Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics
Issue Number: 
Volume Number: 
Publication Abstract: 

Empirical research studies of finance students’ language use have investigated students’ performance in finance courses and the effect of class attendance on students’ performance. Similarly, research on accounting students’ texts has been directed at readability of accounting narratives and lexical choices. Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) based research in multimodal communication and representation has been confined to school and workplace contexts. Whereas multimodal communication investigations in tertiary contexts has been conducted across the fields of mathematics, science and computing, and nursing, business courses have not been explored. The purpose of this paper is to report on a case study designed to investigate the key multimodal academic literacy and numeracy practices of ten international Master of Commerce Accounting students enrolled at an Australian university. Specifically, it aims to provide an account of the salient textual and the logical patterns through the analysis of cohesive devices in a key topic in the Principles of Finance course, namely capital budgeting techniques and management reports.

This study is pertinent as most international ESL/EFL students’ enrolments in Australia and elsewhere is in business programs. This study is underpinned by Halliday’s (1985) Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) approach to language and Halliday and Hasan’s (1976) cohesion analysis scheme. The study employs a Systemic Functional Multimodal Discourse
Analysis (SF-MDA) for the analysis of cohesive devices in the participants’ multimodal texts. Lexical cohesion formed the largest percentage of use, and in particular repetition of the same lexical items, followed by reference.The findings contribute to the description of the meaning-making processes in these multimodal artefacts. They provide a potential research tool for similar investigations across a broad range of educational settings. Implications of the findings for finance students and educators are finally presented.

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