Doctoral Dissertation

26.10.2018 M.A. Miia Konttinen (Facul­ty of Hu­ma­ni­ties and Social Sciences, Applied Linguistics)


26.10.2018 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , S212
M.A. Miia Konttinen defends her doctoral dissertation in Applied Linguistics "Students at the core of English-medium instruction: research on international master's degree students' study paths and the role of academic English and literacies".

Opponent Professor Anne Holmen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) and Custos Director Peppi Taalas (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.


The present study focuses on the International Master’s Degree Programs (IMDP) of the University of Jyväskylä and issues related to English-medium instruction (EMI). At the core of the present study are the IMDP students’ conceptualizations of, and reflections on, academic English. Furthermore, the study examines the IMDP students’ reported language gains in academic English as well the internal and external factors to which the students’ attribute these gains, or the lack of them.

In order to map out these aspects, 15 IMDP students were interviewed at the end of their two-year program. These interviews were then analyzed inductively with the help of Atlas.ti software and by adhering to the guidelines of qualitative content analysis (QCA). As a result, five main themes, with various subthemes, emerged, and they were reflected on through the lens of the participants’ overall academic performance (e.g. graduation time and master’s thesis grade) in order to gain further insights into the students’ study paths.

Consequently, as a result it was discovered that the students have rather narrow, and even slightly decontextualized, conceptualizations of academic English. Moreover, the importance of students’ entry level of academic English, as well as their own role and effort, were deemed crucial. The students, however, also highlighted the importance of adequate language support, which the majority of them found was not, in practice, realized in their IMDPs.

Based on these results, a far more close-knit and systematic integration of content and language is proposed as a means to better support the students’ IMDP studies, which are inherently a combination of both content and language. The present study also proposes academic literacy/ies as an approach for bringing content and language closer together along the IMDP students’ study path.

Namely, integrating all these aspects would enable students to become even more profoundly members of their academic community and discourse, and thus contribute to their overall expertise in their field and their mastery of academic literacies.

Keywords: English-medium instruction, academic English, academic literacies, students’ perspective, qualitative content analysis

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Miia Konttinen

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