Ms Eszter Szenes

Associate Lecturer

A35 - Education Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9036 5067  
Fax +61 2 9351 4865

Website Profile

Biographical details

Eszter Szenes is an Associate Lecturer at the Learning Centre, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) and Registrar Portfolio. Her PhD research explores the nature of genres that build undergraduate business Country Reports, and the linguistic resources at stake in managing the rhetoric in these 'big texts’. She is also involved in ongoing interdisciplinary research projects on investigating the knowledge practices of critical reflection in applied disciplines, and embedding the teaching of critical thinking in an education unit.

Research interests

Systemic Functional Linguistics, Legitimation Code Theory, educational linguistics, Sydney-school genre-based pedagogies, Higher Education, academic writing, embedding academic literacy support, TESOL, sociology of education, knowledge practices of critical thinking and critical reflection, social semiotics, social realism

Current projects

Higher Degree Research

Working title of PhD Thesis:
The language of academic success in business: Towards embedding academic literacy support

Abstract: The use of ‘real-life’ tasks such as professional reports to assess students’ ability to transfer their knowledge beyond the immediate educational context has been gaining popularity in recent years in business higher education. For instance, at a metropolitan Australian university the major assessment task – a 3500-word Country Report – of an interdisciplinary unit, Business in the Global Environment, is intended to prepare students for the skills of ‘problem-solving’, ‘decision-making’ and professional report writing in international business environments. However, as indicated by the large number of students failing this task, few students possess the sophisticated linguistic resources necessary to build the generic complexity and persuasive rhetoric this high-stakes task demands.

The extensive volume of work in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) on elemental genres students are required to write throughout their primary and secondary education shows that most of these texts fit neatly on half a page to a page (Martin, 1994; Martin & Rose, 2008). However, tertiary students are generally required to write much longer texts stretching across many pages – such as the Country Report. In order to understand the nature of these long business reports, this PhD study draws on genre theory from Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (Christie & Martin, 1997; Martin, 1992; Martin & Rose, 2008) and Halliday’s types of structure (1981) to revisit Martin’s question of how texts “get bigger than a page” (1994, p. 29). This thesis will show through fine-grained linguistic analyses of High Distinction student assignments that not all ‘big texts’ are macrogenres made up of elemental genre complexes. Analogising from grammar and the structure of the clause this thesis will illustrate that some ‘big texts’ are genre simplexes whose ‘depth’ is built by embedding elemental genres as stages in a multivariate structure. The thesis will also show that embedded genres, while considered a “relatively rare phenomenon” in current SFL research (Martin 2012: 002), play a fundamental role in enabling texts of the length of business Country Reports to grow bigger than a page. Through examining how long business reports construe ‘depth’ through embedding rather than building complexity through serial expansion in a univariate structure, we aim to arrive at a linguistically theorized understanding of the process of decision-making in business.

In exploring the linguistic resources at stake in managing complexity in these texts this thesis also draws on the discourse semantic systems of Periodicity, Conjunction, Ideation and Appraisal (Martin, 1992; Martin & Rose, 2007; Martin & White, 2005) to show how the co-patternings of discourse semantic resources scaffold the generic structure and construct three major types of rhetorical moves in these texts. Thus the major theoretical contributions of this thesis to SFL are two-fold: 1) complementing and extending existing research on macrogenres and the “nature of big texts” (Martin 2006) and 2) building on existing work in coupling theory to make visible the linguistic resources at stake in building powerful business rhetoric. By making visible the academically valued meanings by which skilful writers demonstrate the process of decision-making in undergraduate business Country Reports, this research has pedagogical implications for academic literacy interventions aimed at making explicit the basis of achievement in business studies.

Unfunded research project: 'Knowledge Practices of Critical Thinking in Applied Disciplines' (ongoing)

Project team:
Eszter Szenes, USYD Learning Centre
Namali Tilakaratna, USYD Department of Linguistics
A/Prof Karl Maton, USYD Department of Sociology and Social Policy

Aims:

  • to explore the knowledge practices of critical thinking and reflection in applied disciplines
  • to map the organising principles of undergraduate student texts in social work and business
  • to explore the linguistic resources through which skilful writers construe a sense of belonging in their professional communities of practice
  • to contribute to academic literacy support programs designed by the Learning Centre at the University of Sydney


Description
The application of 'real-life' or authentic tasks to assess tertiary students' critical thinking skills has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially in applied disciplines such as Social Work and Business. The concepts of 'critical thinking', 'critical analysis' and 'critical reflection' are among the desirable generic and graduate attributes of Australian university graduates and often defined as intended learning outcomes in the Education & Social Work Faculties and Business Schools. While these ideas are often associated with the skill of problem-solving and the preparation of university students for future research-, theory- and evidence-based praxis, they often remain vague in both pedagogy and assessment practices.

This interdisciplinary research draws on two principal frameworks. Legitimation Code Theory (Maton, 2013, 2014), a widely-used approach to studying knowledge practices, is drawn on to explore the organising principles constituting successful ‘critical thinking’ in applied disciplines by mapping the ‘semantic profiles’ of undergraduate student texts. Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday, 1978, 1984; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004) is then used to make visible the linguistic resources by which skilful writers in Social Work and Business achieve these knowledge practices. This research has potential pedagogical implications for academic literacy support programs in higher education aimed at (1) demystifying 'critical thinking' by identifying its constituent features in practical terms, and (2) preparing students for professional communication in their fields of study.

Progress/outcomes:

- The results of this ongoing project have been presented at
(1) the fortnightly LCT–SFL Roundtable (USYD, May 2013) and
(2) the biennial Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference (RMIT, Melbourne, November 2013).

- A book chapter (co-authored by the three project members) titled 'The knowledge practices of critical thinking’: Szenes, E., Tilakaratna, N., Maton, K. (2015). The Knowledge Practices of Critical Thinking. In M. Davies & R. Barnett (Eds.),The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education, (pp. 573-591). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- A book chapter (authored by A/Prof Karl Maton), titled 'Building powerful knowledge: The significance of semantic waves', includes discussion of this research, and appears in E. Rata & B. Barrett (Eds.), Knowledge and the Future of Curriculum: International studies in social realism, (pp. 181-197). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

- The results of this research have helped inform the design of an intervention and the development of learning and teaching resources and tutor training for the Bridging sociocultural Incongruity in the undergraduate Education Curriculum (BIEC), a funded Widening Participation project to embed Critical Thinking into a first-year core unit in Education (EDUF1019) at the University of Sydney (Stevenson, James & Kim, 2013).

- The results of this research helped inform the Central Program Workshop Development at the Learning Centre, University of Sydney. A new four-hour workshop, Critical reflection in the Social and Health Sciences, is now offered to assist undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students with reflective assignments, highly valued in applied disciplines such as social work, nursing, education, marketing, business or accounting. This workshop makes visible the text structure and linguistic resources necessary to describe, critically respond to and reflect on a critical incident or a real life scenario, and explain a personal or professional experience from a theoretical perspective in order to demonstrate critical reflection and transform disciplinary knowledge. Steps of scaffolding students’ learning include:

(1) modeling and deconstructing the appropriate generic structure;

(2) teaching 'semantic waves' and 'weaving' explicitly to model how successful writers navigate between and transform different types of knowledge and link personal and professional experience to the relevant theoretical concepts and frameworks of their discipline; and

(3) explicit teaching of the necessary linguistic resources to construct and evaluate arguments and recommendations, use evidence and demonstrate transformation.

Associations

Membership of professional associations

  • Australian Systemic Functional Linguistics Association (ASFLA)
  • Association for Academic Language and Learning (AALL)
  • Language and Society Centre, Monash University (LASC)

Contributions as reviewers/editors to professional journals

Reviewer at

  • Journal of Linguistics and the Human Sciences,
  • TESOL Quarterly

Awards and honours

University of Sydney International Postgraduate Award (July 2008 - January 2012)

Selected grants

2017

  • The Research Writing Tool: writing development for higher degree research students in science-related faculties (- Open Learning Environment - HDR); Economou D, Salis (nee Sainsbury) A, Hey-Cunningham A, Szenes E; DVC Education/Small Educational Innovation Grant.

Selected publications

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Book Chapters

  • Stevenson, M., James, B., Harvey, A., Kim, M., Szenes, E. (2018). Reflective Writing: A Transitional Space between Theory and Practice. In K. Spelman-Miller & M. Stevenson (Eds.), Transitions in Writing, Studies in Writing. Amsterdam: Brill.
  • Szenes, E., Tilakaratna, N., Maton, K. (2015). The Knowledge Practices of Critical Thinking. In Martin Davies, Ronald Barnett (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education, (pp. 573-591). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [More Information]
  • Mahboob, A., Szenes, E. (2010). Construing meaning in world Englishes. In Andy Kirkpatrick (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of World Englishes, (pp. 580-598). Oxon, UK: Routledge imprint of Taylor & Francis. [More Information]

Journals

  • Mahboob, A., Szenes, E. (2010). Linguicism and racism in assessment practices in higher education. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 3(3), 325-354. [More Information]

Conferences

  • Tilakaratna, N., Szenes, E. (2017). Axiological cosmologies for writing about �self-reflective� praxis. 2nd International Legitimation Code Theory Conference (LCTC2), TBA: 2nd International Legitimation Code Theory Conference (LCTC2).
  • James, B., O'Carroll, P., Szenes, E. (2017). Summary writing � beyond a simple �skill�. 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8), TBA: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8).
  • Szenes, E. (2017). The linguistic construction of business decisions: construing investment opportunities and risks at the level of discourse semantics. 44th International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Wollongong: The Organising Committee of the 44th International Systemic Functional Congress.
  • Tilakaratna, N., Szenes, E. (2017). The linguistic construction of critical �self-reflection� in social work and business. 44th International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Wollongong: The Organising Committee of the 44th International Systemic Functional Congress.
  • Szenes, E., Harvey, A., James, B., Drury, H. (2017). The role of SFL and genre-based pedagogy in disciplinary literacy instruction: driving curriculum renewal in tertiary disciplines. 44th International Systemic Functional Linguistics Congress, Wollongong, NSW Australia: 44th International Systemic Functional Linguistics Congress.
  • Tilakaratna, N., Szenes, E. (2017). �I comply but deeply resent being asked to do so�: Ethical considerations of assessing students� reflective writing. 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8), TBA: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8).
  • Szenes, E., Tilakaratna, N. (2017). �I comply but deeply resent being asked to do so�: Ethical considerations of assessing students� reflective writing. 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8), TBA: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8).
  • Szenes, E. (2016). Unpacking the rhetorical moves of business decision-making in successful tertiary �Country Reports�: an exploration at the stratum of discourse semantics. International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC).
  • Szenes, E. (2015). How do texts get bigger than a page? revisited: constructing depth in long business reports. 42nd International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Germany: RWTH Aachen University.
  • Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E., Kim, M., Stevenson, M. (2015). The theoretical shaping of embedded writing instruction. Academic Writing in Multiple Scholarly , Socio-Cultural, Instructional and Disciplinary Contexts: Challenges and Perspectives: 8th Biennial Conference of the European Association for the Teaching and Academic Writing (AETAW). European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW).
  • Kim, M., Stevenson, M., Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E. (2014). Assessment rubrics and assignment models - student interpretations: curriculum implications. Sydney Teaching Colloquium: Is Our Assessment Up to Standard?.
  • Kim, M., Stevenson, M., Simpson, A., Chan, A., Johnson, R., Pollard, N., Raymond, J., Shirley, D., Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E. (2014). Assessment: Engaging with communication standards. Sydney Teaching Colloquium: Is Our Assessment Up to Standard?.
  • Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E., Kim, M., Stevenson, M. (2014). Embedding at the pointy end of faculty concerns: Curriculum renewal. AALL Symposium, TBA: Queensland University of Technology.
  • Stevenson, M., James, B., Kim, M., Szenes, E., Harvey, A. (2014). Moving between practice, theory and reflection: First year education students becoming reflective practitioners. SIG Conference on Writing Research, TBA: SIG.

2018

  • Stevenson, M., James, B., Harvey, A., Kim, M., Szenes, E. (2018). Reflective Writing: A Transitional Space between Theory and Practice. In K. Spelman-Miller & M. Stevenson (Eds.), Transitions in Writing, Studies in Writing. Amsterdam: Brill.

2017

  • Tilakaratna, N., Szenes, E. (2017). Axiological cosmologies for writing about �self-reflective� praxis. 2nd International Legitimation Code Theory Conference (LCTC2), TBA: 2nd International Legitimation Code Theory Conference (LCTC2).
  • James, B., O'Carroll, P., Szenes, E. (2017). Summary writing � beyond a simple �skill�. 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8), TBA: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8).
  • Szenes, E. (2017). The linguistic construction of business decisions: construing investment opportunities and risks at the level of discourse semantics. 44th International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Wollongong: The Organising Committee of the 44th International Systemic Functional Congress.
  • Tilakaratna, N., Szenes, E. (2017). The linguistic construction of critical �self-reflection� in social work and business. 44th International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Wollongong: The Organising Committee of the 44th International Systemic Functional Congress.
  • Szenes, E., Harvey, A., James, B., Drury, H. (2017). The role of SFL and genre-based pedagogy in disciplinary literacy instruction: driving curriculum renewal in tertiary disciplines. 44th International Systemic Functional Linguistics Congress, Wollongong, NSW Australia: 44th International Systemic Functional Linguistics Congress.
  • Tilakaratna, N., Szenes, E. (2017). �I comply but deeply resent being asked to do so�: Ethical considerations of assessing students� reflective writing. 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8), TBA: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8).
  • Szenes, E., Tilakaratna, N. (2017). �I comply but deeply resent being asked to do so�: Ethical considerations of assessing students� reflective writing. 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8), TBA: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity (APCEI8).

2016

  • Szenes, E. (2016). Unpacking the rhetorical moves of business decision-making in successful tertiary �Country Reports�: an exploration at the stratum of discourse semantics. International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC).

2015

  • Szenes, E. (2015). How do texts get bigger than a page? revisited: constructing depth in long business reports. 42nd International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Germany: RWTH Aachen University.
  • Szenes, E., Tilakaratna, N., Maton, K. (2015). The Knowledge Practices of Critical Thinking. In Martin Davies, Ronald Barnett (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education, (pp. 573-591). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [More Information]
  • Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E., Kim, M., Stevenson, M. (2015). The theoretical shaping of embedded writing instruction. Academic Writing in Multiple Scholarly , Socio-Cultural, Instructional and Disciplinary Contexts: Challenges and Perspectives: 8th Biennial Conference of the European Association for the Teaching and Academic Writing (AETAW). European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW).

2014

  • Kim, M., Stevenson, M., Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E. (2014). Assessment rubrics and assignment models - student interpretations: curriculum implications. Sydney Teaching Colloquium: Is Our Assessment Up to Standard?.
  • Kim, M., Stevenson, M., Simpson, A., Chan, A., Johnson, R., Pollard, N., Raymond, J., Shirley, D., Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E. (2014). Assessment: Engaging with communication standards. Sydney Teaching Colloquium: Is Our Assessment Up to Standard?.
  • Harvey, A., James, B., Szenes, E., Kim, M., Stevenson, M. (2014). Embedding at the pointy end of faculty concerns: Curriculum renewal. AALL Symposium, TBA: Queensland University of Technology.
  • Stevenson, M., James, B., Kim, M., Szenes, E., Harvey, A. (2014). Moving between practice, theory and reflection: First year education students becoming reflective practitioners. SIG Conference on Writing Research, TBA: SIG.

2010

  • Mahboob, A., Szenes, E. (2010). Construing meaning in world Englishes. In Andy Kirkpatrick (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of World Englishes, (pp. 580-598). Oxon, UK: Routledge imprint of Taylor & Francis. [More Information]
  • Mahboob, A., Szenes, E. (2010). Linguicism and racism in assessment practices in higher education. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 3(3), 325-354. [More Information]

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