Discursive Construction of Master’s Students’ Scholarly Position During Supervisory Interactions: An Appraisal Perspective

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran



This study aimed to explore various types of positioning used by master's students in supervisor-supervisee dyads. Conducting a mixed-methods conversion design with a multiple case study as its qualitative phase, we collected data by asking three TEFL master’s students to share with us all their supervisors’ feedback, messages, and supervisory interactions. To track patterns of positioning, in-depth interviews and metalinguistic commentaries were utilized. Analysis of the data using the Appraisal model indicated that two of the supervisors positioned themselves as authoritative and inarguable within the dyad, which caused their supervisees to reposition themselves from novice researchers to passive students. The supervisees, in turn, positioned these professors as unapproachable and irresponsible. On the other hand, while the third professor offered enough space to his supervisee to position herself as an independent scholar, she retained her passive position throughout the process, thereby suggesting that positioning was influenced by both academic discursive practices and non-academic factors.  Overall, despite being a sin qua non of scholarly identity formation, fruitful supervisory relationships could not be fostered among the present participants. Hence, it is suggested that institutional policy makers and educational departments specify clear-cut road maps defining roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in supervisory interactions.