Is investigating discipline-specific academic lecture introductions a goal worth pursuing?: A corpus-based study of the rhetorical structure of mathematics lecture introductions

Branka Živković, Milica Vuković-Stamatović


Abstract : This study investigates the rhetorical move structure and linguistic signals of academic lecture introductions in the discipline of mathematics. The goal of the present study is twofold: 1) to determine the rhetorical model of lecture introductions in the field of mathematics so as to help non-native students of English to overcome difficulties in understanding lectures in this discipline, and 2) to find out whether our discipline-specific model differs or not from the general models determined in the literature. Applying a genre-based approach, we explore the largest corpus used in this type of research to date - a corpus of 100 maths lecture introductions delivered at the MIT University (the USA).The similarity between our and previous models exists in the presence of two obligatory moves setting up the lecture framework and putting the topic into context , which confirms the value of the previous research and suggests that discipline does not affect the rhetorical structure at the level of moves . However, another result referring to a more elaborate structure of the move putting topic in context in maths lecture introductions leads to a conclusion that discipline-specificity can play a role at the level of steps. The use of these obligatory moves allows students to create a general mental framework for the lecture, which should facilitate the comprehension of the lecture contents to be presented after the lecture introduction.

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