An ecological perspective on communicative interaction of different forms of discourses within two different disciplines in a UK higher education institution

  • Kit Ying Ida Liu

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    It is noted that in the field of research on discourse and education, most studies of teaching and learning have focused on discrete elements: classroom discourse; written feedback; pre-class reading; note-taking, etc. For some research questions, such an approach is adequate and productive. However, the present research utilizes an analytical framework developed from an ecological perspective on learning, language and communication, which foregrounds a new line of investigation that builds on and can complement the important work on discrete components of teaching and learning.

    By using an ecological perspective on communicative interaction, this study describes and analyses the complex system of communication in teaching and learning of two different disciplines in a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI). The ecological perspective views communication, of which language is a major medium and which is central to teaching and learning, as a system occurring at several levels of complexity simultaneously. Learning in a HEI module is viewed as complex and integrated, involving a range of interrelated communicative events that take place over an extended period around an activity.

    This study therefore provides the detailed methodology of using the ecological perspective of learning, language, and communication to investigate how knowledge is constructed in humanities and in social science iii modules in a HEI. In addition, the findings reveal important but not immediately obvious aspects of the communication processes and identify communication problems that can be addressed to facilitate learning. Specifically, mistakes or misunderstanding in the assignments identified by the teachers were traced to the academic references, reading notes, lesson talks, class notes, and supplementary course materials, raising awareness to the complexity of the communication process in the learning journey. Misunderstanding or miscommunication of subject knowledge can take place at various stages in the process. Correspondingly, certain strategies are suggested to help at specific junctures in addressing the problems and facilitating learning.
    Date of Award10 Feb 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorMark Garner (Director of Studies) & Annabelle Mooney (Co-Supervisor)


    • Ecological perspective
    • Communicative interaction
    • Communicative act
    • Communication event
    • Communicative link
    • Communicative constellation

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