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The Department Of Psychology: Purpose Through Shared Knowledge

1850 words - 8 pages

The psychology department of the University of Akron is considered an academic discourse community. That is, 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, makes the argument that where academic discourse communities differ from informal ones, is 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). ...view middle of the document...

Critical to this research was to observe several levels of membership. Because I am an undergraduate I am able to observe and participate in required general education classes. For the purposes of this study 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.
In accordance to John Swales’s theory of discourse communities, they must possess their own genre forms, therefore I collected examples such as a scientific article written by a professor in the department and a typical syllabus from an upper level course. I also visited the academic advising office and secured flyers and pamphlets pertaining to achieving a degree within this community. 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 the University of Akron’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” (University of Akron). Another aspect of the psychology department is to provide vocational and personal counseling to the students and individuals of the surrounding communities. Graduate students act as counselors and are supervised by licensed psychologists. This free clinic acts as a research and clinic training facility.
To embrace the possibilities that higher membership offers, such as conducting clinical research, students must strive to get to the top of a theoretical pyramid. According to Natalie Grandy, a third year graduate student, there is a definite hierarchy within the department. These levels include undergraduates, graduate students, associate professors, and professors. She states, “a big proportion of our community is made up of undergraduates”. Grandy also believes that if someone wants to achieve true insider status it is essential that they go on to earn a master’s or preferably a doctorate degree. She considers anyone not achieving this to be dubbed as an underling. “It will be very difficult for someone looking for work in psychology if they only have a bachelor’s”. Thus, undergraduate studies although important, act only as a launching point and it is highly recommended that prospective students take this into account when declaring a major.
First Tier of Membership: Applying to the Undergraduate Program
Students must complete thirty credit hours before applying for admission into this degree program. The classes that make up these credit hours help prepare students to gain shared knowledge that will assist them to be successful. For instance, I am required to take English Composition II. This fundamental course stresses professional and academic methods of writing and introduces the concepts of sound...

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