Positive Psychology and mastery of the “academic” self

Aleks Palanac, an EAP Tutor from the University of Leicester, is going to talk about positive psychology in the context of EAP.

“Identity is what makes us similar to and different from each other and for academics it is how they both achieve credibility as insiders and reputations as individuals.” (Hyland, 2015:36)

When talking about “managing transitions” in the context of EAP, much of the focus has traditionally been upon knowledge and skills that students need to gain in order to join and actively participate in the activities of their desired discourse community. Indeed, the influential model proposed by Beaufort (2007) suggests that entry into the target discourse community can only occur once a learner has mastered the domains of knowledge pertaining to it, including those of subject matter, genre, rhetorical techniques and the writing process. However, this talk will argue that mastery of a domain and entry into a discourse community involves more than this; both of these things can occur only once a student has been able to “master” him/herself.

But what is this “self-mastery” and how can we guide students towards achieving it? This talk will draw upon theories from the emerging field of Positive Psychology, showing how notions such as self-efficacy, mindfulness and flow can be interwoven with concepts more commonly associated with EAP (e.g. learner autonomy, motivation and noticing) to propose a framework for mastery of the academic self. The application of these proposed strategies in the classroom is intended to empower students not only to enter their chosen discourse community but also to leave their mark on it.


The presentation slides can be accessed here and the handout here [PDFs].


aleks-palanacOver the past 12 years, Aleks Palanac has been an ELT teacher, examiner and resources developer. She now works as an EAP Tutor at the University of Leicester, currently teaching on a range of courses, including EAP provision for refugees. Her special interests include positive psychology and learner autonomy.



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