Academic Discourse Community Analysis
Schmidt and Kopple defined discourse community as “a group of people who share means to claim, organize, communicate and evaluate meanings. In the same light, Schmidt and Kopple argue that a system that involves the interaction of several social groups’ variables is no different from the academic discourse community which its members are students. This system determines how students interact with one another both in the academic and the professional world. Still, in the line of Schmidt and Kopple argument, this essay analyzes academic discourse communities by choosing two social groups in the college, Student Government Association, and Student Sports group, to analyze how the two groups functions.It is important to expound on academic discourse community as offered by Schmidt and Kopple before deeply analyzing the two college groups under exploration. Schmidt and Kopple noted that for one to qualify as a member of any of the academic discourse communities must have learned a particular language and new information that is claimed by this discourse community. The two authors go head to cement that each college possess a consistent organization and structure that provides a framework for class scheduling and syllabus. As the college student becomes a member of an academic discourse group, he or she masters his or her written and spoken language that is likely to be used in communication, especially when interacting with professors or peers. For effective communication, student must learn how to use the right style, genre, and terminology in either written or verbal communication (Schmidt and Kopple). This means that a student must exhibit a particular knowledge that qualifies him or her as the member of the academic discourse community. Lastly, the student will be evaluated to determine whether he or she has earned the desired traits to suit in the academic discourse community.
Student Government Association group goes through the discourse community processes as given by Schmidt and Kopple. First, Schmidt and Kopple noted that for members to belong to the same discourse community, they must share common values or goals. Student Government Association group represents the voice of the students. Therefore, the core goal is to advocate for the needs of the students that may range from the academic issues to extra curriculum activities. To achieve their target; this academic discourse community has both short-term and long-term goals.
The Student Government Association members claim their goals by organizing their group. The group organizes itself by using the platforms (structures) set by the colleges that helps the students to voice their grievances. The Student Government Association discourse members rely on these structures to vie for the different posts and organize themselves to present the student demands to the university board in unison. “As you move through your college career, you might be surprised at how many systems of meanings there are and at how different some of these are from your own.” (Schmidt and Kopple) Similarly, the Student Government Association group structure and organization have complicated variables that comprise of the members’ needs and that of the students they present. Therefore, it is upon them to choose which needs to prioritize.
In the light of Schmidt and Kopple, any discourse community is built on intercommunication. Intercommunication is very important to the members of the Student Government because it is the only way the members can share ideas and information among themselves as well to the students they present. The Student Government Association intercommunication is based on emails because it is efficient and it is one of the most professional communication approaches that can be used in academic institution. Pagel uses the phrase “discrete pulses of sound” to symbolize communication that is used to pass ideas from human to human within a particular discourse community.
Participation as Schmidt and Kopple outlines is a key attribute that ensures a discourse community achieves its goals. The Student Government Association members are required to help in planning the student events and make sure their office hours are positively utilized. For the discourse community to communicate and attend to their responsibilities effectively, they are guided by a certain group of genres. As Pagel notes, language is a genre of talking for any given discourse community. The Student Government Association discourse community genres can be classified into three categories: legislative, judicial and executive. Each category has specific responsibilities. Besides, a category may have their own set of genres. It is through these genres whereby the members of the Student Government Association discourse community are assessed to determine whether they are achieved the set goals.
Student Sports Group is another example of a discourse community in the college. This discourse community has specific goals to achieve: winning or participating in sports. The Student Sports discourse community organize themselves by training tirelessly irrespective whether there is an upcoming sports event or not. This is because one of the core goals is to participate in sports. Secondly, the continuous training helps them to prepare for future competition to enable them to win. This discourse community also organizes itself by securing the right sports facilities, having well-trained coaches and making sure each sports hour is well utilized.
Schmidt and Kopple argue that any discourse community has a common language to communicate despite its members coming from other different discourse community groups. “It is easy to notice that not all members of the discourse community will have systems of meaning identical in all respect. It is possible for those who have same discourse community in common to have others, not in common, (Schmidt and Kopple).” Therefore, it is important for the members of the discourse community to shun off the meanings of the other discourse communities by changing to adapt to the system meanings in the new discourse community. The Student Sports discourse community does so by developing the sports communication language that binds them together despite the differences. The new members in the discourse community learn the language by observing and practicing what others do to suit them as the typical members of the group (Pagel).
The Student Sports discourse community has unique communication techniques that may be difficult for members outside the group to understand. For example, the group can use signs, sports slangs or facial expressions expressed through body movement to communicate with one another. The achievement of this group goals is assessed by determining the number of games the member has participated and how the member has contributed to the group success.The two groups in the academic discourse community conform to Schmidt and Kopple judgment that members of the particular discourse community can be the subscribers of other different communities. Alternatively, the process taken by both the Student Government Association and Student Sports groups depicts the Schmidt and Kopple definition of the discourse community. The members of the discourse community must have common goals in place that must be well organized and communicated to attain the set targets. The assessment is done by measuring the members’ ability to meet the group social traits and objectives.