AWEJ Volume.4 Number.2, 2013                                                                         Pp.59-76

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Combating the Production of Stereotypes in Undergraduate Writing

Alex Henry
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Universiti Brunei Darusslam
Brunei Darussalam

 

Abstract
Although there has been a lot of research into stereotyping in published materials, such as in magazines and children’s books, there has been little investigation of stereotyping in student writing in a tertiary setting. This paper sets out to identify and categories the stereotypes found in the examination scripts of 110 first year Bruneian students studying at the University of Brunei Darussalam. It was found that stereotyping occurred in 60 out of the 110 scripts.  An investigation of the race and gender of the 60 scripts containing stereotyping found that there was no significant difference in the amount of stereotyping between the various racial groups or gender of students. The paper identifies four possible reasons for the production of the stereotypes: a lack of linguistic knowledge of how to develop an argument; a possible misunderstanding of their own national philosophy; the use of circular argument as a form of argument; and the possibility of actual prejudice. The paper concludes that the compulsory courses in academic writing and logic and thinking taken by the students were not effective in imparting the necessary knowledge, or developing the skills necessary for appropriate academic communication. The paper suggests the types of activities which may help prevent the production of stereotypes.
Keywords: Argument, stereotyping, second language writing

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Alex Henry is a senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
at the University of Brunei Darussalam. He has taught EAP/ESP in Japan, Malaysia, Saudi
Arabia and New Zealand. He has published in international journals in the areas of ELT, ESP,
corpus linguistics and genre analysis.