Investigating Writer's Stance in University Academic Group Discussions
Online group discussion is a typical learning activity in academic English lessons at universities. Students exchange research ideas and evaluate each other's work. However, many non-English major undergraduates experience challenges in expressing their opinions and developing arguments during this discussion process. Stance analysis is a crucial linguistic tool for obtaining an understanding of how participants express their ideas. Using the stance framework proposed by Biber (2006), the aim of this study was to examine the main grammatical markers and relevant semantic categories found in written online group discussions. We intended to investigate the expressions of the writer's stance (such as stance adverbials, stance nouns, stance adjectives, and stance verbs) in academic group discussions by analyzing a corpus of texts from an online discussion within a university setting from a forum. A total of 34 online group discussions with a combined word count of 199,559 contributed by 187 Hong Kong Chinese undergraduate students comprised the dataset. To pinpoint stance lexical items that appeared in particular grammatical frames, the frequencies and roles of stance expressions were calculated and thoroughly examined. The results demonstrated that the most widely used grammatical stance expressions in these academic discourses to convey attitudes and opinions were stance adverbials and stance verbs. By examining the linguistic resources used by non-English major students to express their perspectives and attitudes, as well as how stance is manifested in the context of academic online discussions, this study provides insights for both linguistics and education.