The psychology department of State University is considered an academic discourse community. They have a stated purpose, requirements for membership, and exercise intercommunication techniques. Furthermore, they have shared common knowledge that they use to advance their discipline and attract new members. Eleanor Kutz, a leading expert in the field of language and literacy, argues that academic discourse communities differ from informal ones in the critical area of assumed shared knowledge. She states, “building on the assumed shared knowledge...affects how people participate in academic communities, including introductory ones” (Kutz 344). In other words, professors introduce basic concepts when students enter the community. These concepts are the foundation that will eventually give rise to greater functionality within the desired academic discipline. The purpose of the academic discourse community is to foster development of novice members and therefore, assuring that the community has the resources to sustain itself.
The purpose of my research stems from this concept of shared knowledge and how it relates to membership and survival. John Swales theorizes, “survival of the community depends on a reasonable ratio between novices and experts” (Swales 27). Building upon this notion, I
aim to show how freshmen to professors are dependent upon one another and how this community achieves their purpose of shared common knowledge. I will do so by focusing on their modes of academic advancement, intercommunication techniques, and shared public goals. Additionally, my research also reveals insight on how a bachelor’s degree in psychology translates into employment.
Methodology: Experiences, Observation, and Document Gathering
The key to understanding this community requires insight into how new students achieve membership and compare them to expert levels. As an undergraduate I currently participate as a student in required general education classes and I chose to analyze my English Comp II course. Building upon this, I asked permission to observe a level 300 psychology course and later conducted an interview with the graduate student who taught the class. I collected examples such as a scientific article written by a professor and a typical syllabus from an upper level course. I also visited the academic advising office and secured flyers and pamphlets pertaining to the degree. During my visit I took careful notes about the use of visual communication via bulletin boards and banners. I also explored the pages that the community utilizes on State University’s web site.
Purpose of Membership and the Importance of Earning a Higher Degree
The stated purpose of the psychology department is “to prepare students for diverse careers in health, business, industry, and research” (Many Opportunities). Another aspect of the
psychology department is to provide vocational and personal counseling to the students and individuals...