Research fellows

Research Fellows make a valuable contribution to the Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication through their programme of research activities including the publication of papers and presentations at seminars and conferences.

Research Fellows were selected from the academic staff of Schools within the Faculty of Culture and Society and the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies.

The Institute's priorities include:

  • A focus on the presentation and publication of research findings
  • Positioning to gain external research funding
  • Pursuing research collaborations within AUT, elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas.

Both newer and experienced researchers are eligible for ICDC Fellowships. Fellows are appointed on the basis of the quality of their research proposal, how applicable their proposal is to ICDC's research strategies and priorities, and a demonstration of their ability to carry the proposal through to completion.

Fellowships are not for degree-related study and are not necessarily granted on an annual basis.

Past ICDC Research Fellows

2006 ICDC Research Fellows were Junji Kawai and Shanjiang Yu from the School of Language and Culture.

2005 2004 2003
Alice U John Bitchener Pat Strauss
Graeme Couper Heather Devere Nancy de Freitas
 Albert Refiti John Bitchener
 Lynn Grant  

2005 Research Fellows

Alice U, School of Language and Culture

An investigation into students' perceptions of peer interaction in group assessments

The co-researchers of this project are Pat Strauss from School of Languages and Stuart Young from School of Mathematical Sciences.

The research project recognises a dearth of information on peer interaction with regard to assessed group work. It aims to investigate students' perceptions of interactions in group assessments.

The research will incorporate the insights and opinions of these students from two faculties, Applied Humanities and Business, with a view to developing deeper understanding of the way in which these interactions affect learning. It will include questionnaires in two stages: before, and after the completion of group assessments.

This project is based on previous research funded by the Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication in 2002 (Strauss and U) in which first year EAL students and lecturers in mainstream programmes were interviewed regarding the challenges they face in the first year classrooms.

Findings to date indicate that there are a number of issues that need to be explored in relation to communication and learning.

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Graeme Couper, School of Language and Culture

Investigations into second language pronunciation acquisition

This project will use data collected from over sixty High Intermediate level English language students to analyse their stage of phonological development (interlanguage) and developmental changes.

With a focus on the students' English pronunciation, the project will involve measuring the occurrence of epenthesis and deletion (the addition of an extra vowel after a consonant and the inappropriate dropping of final consonants).

The second part of this project will be an analysis of the extent to which instruction may be instrumental in promoting changes in pronunciation and an evaluation of pronunciation learning and teaching from the learner's perspective.

Although pronunciation has often not been considered teachable, Graeme Couper has found (Couper, 2003) that the ability to communicate orally, for which pronunciation is one of the key underlying skills, was of paramount importance to new migrants in their process of socialisation.

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2004 Research Fellows

John Bitchener, School of Language and Culture

English as an Additional Language

A ICDC Research Fellow in 2003, John Bitchener completed three new research projects during his time as 2004 Fellow.

The first, with colleague Kevin Roach, considered the effect of form-focused instruction on explicit and implicit knowledge as well as the controversial interface position.

The second study, with Dr Helen Basturkmen at the University of Auckland, is a cross-disciplinary investigation of supervisor and English as an Additional Language (EAL) student perceptions of difficulties experienced by post-graduate students writing the initial draft of the thesis discussion.

The third project is an image and text analysis of material used to promote tourist sites with English as an additional language.

John Bitchener is a senior lecturer (above the bar) and Programme Leader of the MA in Applied Language Studies in the School of Languages.

He is President of the Applied Linguistics Association of New Zealand (ALANZ) and Editor of TESOLANZ (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Aotearoa New Zealand) Journal.

His research interests centre around Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory and pedagogy and discourse analysis.

Research Fellow Seminar Series 2005:

Joint seminar with the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute

Mainland China travel brochures

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Heather Devere, School of Social Sciences and Public Policy

Cross-cultural Discourses on Friendship

Heather Devere's research project explores cross-cultural understandings of and discourses on the concept of Friendship. The project was exploratory both in terms of methodology and theoretical development.

It involved groups of academics from different language and cultural backgrounds participating in a collaborative venture. The research focused on concerns surrounding the communication of complex ideas via language and was informed by the disciplines of philosophy, sociology, linguistics, politics and anthropology.

The concept of friendship is an important aspect of the search to improve communication between people of different language backgrounds and cultures.

An understanding of the various ways in which language is used to convey similar meanings and the different perspectives which various cultures have.

This includes concepts such as friendship, which is intrinsic to social interaction and is a vital in resolving issues of difference which can result in inter and intra-national conflict and dispute.

Research Fellow Seminar Series 2005:

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Albert Refiti, School of Art and Design

Fale: Polynesian Architecture and Identity Construction in New Zealand

The main aim of Albert Refiti's research project is to identify and explore the architectural and formal possibilities of the Samoan fale.

The project looked at the traditional method of fale construction by focusing on existing examples of fale in Samoa and New Zealand built fale.

It explores how the transplantation of fale architecture to New Zealand, particularly in Auckland, starts to blur and change the boundaries of what a Samoan and/or Polynesian culture might be in New Zealand.

This new architectural context, in a strange way, has become the very object a Samoan culture becomes identified with in New Zealand.

Research Fellow Seminar Series 2005

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Lynn Grant, School of Language and Culture

Research and Teaching Figurative Language

Lynn Grant's research project investigated the frequency of idiomatic multiword units (MWUs). The largest category of idiomatic MWUs is that of "figuratives".

A frequency count to find out which figuratives occur the most frequently, and which, if any, occur frequently enough to merit inclusion in any word frequency list, or in any vocabulary teaching programme had not been undertaken previous to this project.

Grant's approach involved establishing a frequency count of the list of figuratives by doing a search of the British National Corpus (BNC), a balanced collection of 100 million words of English.

Frequency was established on the written corpus (90% of the BNC) and the spoken corpus (10% of the BNC). In addition, the number which would have a literal meaning was included.

In order for language teachers to know which MWUs should be taught, we need to first know which occur most frequently.

The information produced during this research project should be of interest to language teachers both here in New Zealand and overseas as well.

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2003 Research Fellows

Pat Strauss, School of Language and Culture

An investigation into language challenges facing EAL postgraduate students

This 2003 ICDC Fellowship was awarded for two projects. The first of these projects explored the thesis writing process of two EAL (English as an Additional Language) Masters students in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

The research was the continuation of work undertaken with Professor Jo Ann Walton that investigated some of the linguistic and cultural challenges faced by EAL students and their supervisors at AUT. One of the primary suggestions made by this project was that the involvement of a language advisor in the thesis writing process could help the EAL student negotiate the linguistic pitfalls of this process and allow the supervisor the freedom to concentrate on the context of the study.

This second project was based on initial research done in conjunction with Alice U (2005 Research Fellow) in which first year EAL students and lecturers in mainstream programmes were interviewed about the challenges they face in the lecture room. Preliminary findings indicated that there are a number of very real issues that need to be explored in relation to communication and learning in the lecture room environment. These issues can be broadly grouped into five main categories:

  • Lecturers' expectations and assumptions regarding EAL students
  • English language proficiency levels of EAL students
  • Challenges surrounding group work and group assessment
  • Delivery and pace of lectures
  • Difficulties regarding institutional support provided for lecturers and students.

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Nancy de Freitas, School of Art and Design

Collaboration as a research method in the visual arts

Collaboration can be defined as a methodology through which artwork is produced by more than one artist. In art and design contexts, it is a working method appropriate to practice-based research that offers the opportunity for intellectual conversation and critical discourse.

The nature of contemporary collaborative practice has evolved into a phenomenon that is, in many cases, more complex than just a structural approach to co-operative and interactive activity, such as teamwork. Increasingly, contemporary artists have embraced collaborative practice, often as a result of technological advances or interdisciplinary intentions. The degree of specialisation that has resulted from the increasing complexity of technology today has also lead to more interdisciplinary collaborations, in particular at the convergence of art, science and technology.

The aim of this study was to examine the impact of an evolving artwork on the process of collaboration. Both the development of the artwork, which de Freitas calls the evolving artefact, and the collaborative processes between an artist, a writer and a composer were examined. The study revealed the pervasive impact of the evolving artefact on the collaborative relationship. In particular, the study exposed aspects of the collaborative conversation and resulted in a new concept to represent the relationship of the evolving artefact and the creative partners.

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John Bitchener, School of Language and Culture

This Research Fellowship involved the preparation of four articles for publication:

  • The relationship between the negotiation of meaning and language learning. Published in the international journal Language Awareness, vol. 13 (2), 2004.
  • Writing academic literature reviews: A case study of the difficulties experienced by L2 speakers of English
  • Does corrective feedback help L2 learners improve the accuracy of their writing over time? Published in the journal New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, vol. 9 (2), December 2003.
  • The effects of individual learner factors and task type on negotiation: A study of advanced Japanese and Korean ESL learners. Published in the Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 26 (2), 63-83.

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