Lee, S. (2017, December). Seeking academic help: A case study of peer brokering interactions. Refereed paper presented at the combined 2017 ISANA/ANZSSA Conference, Gold Coast, Australia. Abstract available from http://www.isana-anzssa.com/2046
Seeking academic help: A case study of peer brokering interactions
University of Waikato
Doctoral Consortium 6 Dec 2017
Seeking ac demic help
A case study of peer brokering interactions
My Presentation 1
➣ Deficit discourse on inadequate English
skills and lack of class participation (Ryan &
➣ Assertion of a monolingual perspective
on students’ learning amounts to a
disregard for language and cultural
diversity (IAU, 2012; Ryan &Viete, 2010)
➣ Most international students from Asia
and are non-native English speakers
(EAL: English as an Additional Language)
Cross-cultural sensibilities or ignorance?
➣ Need for intercultural sensibilities among
staff and students to prepare them for
living and working in a more culturally
diverse environment (Altbach & Knight, 2007;
Knight, 2013; Leask, 2009)
Ø But prevailing deficit discourse ignores
complex and diverse systems of cultural
practices and perpetuates ‘cross-cultural
ignorance’ (Singh, 2005)
➣ Brokers facilitate transfer of valued resources
because of barriers in culture and language
(Stovel, Golub, & Milgrom, 2011)
➣ Language brokering: Interpreting and
translating performed by bilinguals without
special training (Tse, 1996)
➣ Literacy brokering: Unpacking the underlying
meanings and implications of unfamiliar texts
and practices encountered on an everyday basis.
More than translation, e.g. explain cultural
content (Perry, 2009)
➣ Informal help-seeking interactions
➣ Brokers bridge the gaps between
students and the English academy
through translation, interpretation, and
➣ Examine international students’ agency
through their brokering interactions
Empirical Studies 6
Interpreting and completing assignments
(Li et al., 2010; Montgomery & McDowell, 2009;Wakimoto, 2007;
Zappa-Hollman & Duff, 2015)
Academic writing (Che, 2013; Nam & Beckett, 2011; Séror, 2011).
Co-nationals, other international students,
“experts” (native English speakers)
(Che, 2013; Montgomery & McDowell, 2009; Zappa-Hollman & Duff, 2015)
Face-to-face interactions and through mobile
phones / computers
(Goodwin, Kennedy, &Vetere, 2010; Krause, 2007)
Social Networking Sites (e.g. Facebook)
(Madge et al., 2009;Vivian et al., 2014;Vivian & Barnes, 2010)
What is the nature of brokering
among international EAL students?
1. Who are the brokers?
2. Why are they chosen?
3. What are the dynamics of brokering
Ø Conversation analysis according to the
principles of turn taking (Sacks et al., 1974)
Ø WeChat/Facebook Messages as conversation
Ø Brokering = Epistemic asymmetry
K+ broker, K- seeker (Heritage, 2013)
Ø Use of emoji and other affective markers
Case Study: Linda & Emily
Seeker: Linda (China)
Enrolled in a level 200
Broker: Emily (China)
Final year undergraduate
student in the same subject
Ø Straightforward requests (e.g. question) and
answers (e.g. with certainty)
Ø Acknowledgement tokens closes exchange
Ø Seeker may not agree with advice by:
§ Resisting it as new knowledge
§ Rejecting the advice altogether
Accomplishing Brokering Interactions
1. Agency = Seeker initiated
2. Agency = Negotiating epistemic
3. Agency = Accomplishing brokering
interactions through linguistic and
Ø English is NOT the only legitimate language in
Ø A common native language allows students to
engage in meaningful brokering interactions
Ø Brokering demonstrates learners’ initiative and
negotiation of knowledge positions
Ø Host institutions need to recognise the value of
international students using their own cultural
and social resources
SHERRIE LEE Twitter @orangecanton
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