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Social Practices in Higher Education

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This book addresses Mohan’s (1986) concept of a social practice, an educational activity that can be considered as action in a frame of meaning, or a “knowledge framework” (KF). The KF, grounded in systemic functional linguistics, is a heuristic that provides both a theoretical framework for researching the language of social practices and a springboard for organizing lessons that can help teachers bring explicit language development into content teaching. This volume brings together the latest research on using Mohan’s SFL-based theory at institutions of higher learning.

One outcome of this book is to show how a functional approach to language research can be a major tool for research in the experiential tradition of John Dewey who, as a pragmatist, regarded knowledge functionally “as arising from an active adaptation of the human organism to its environment” ( Another outcome is to illustrate the complexity of the role activities play in education.

This is the first book to examine the linguistic demands of the activities that occur in higher education. It provides empirically grounded examples of how Mohan’s work is being implemented in universities worldwide. It thus adds to conversations addressing the use of educational activities to teach and describe disciplinary literacy and the integrated development of language and content.

Published: Nov 2, 2023

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Chapter 1
A Knowledge Framework Approach to Linguistic Research and Teaching Tammy Slater
Chapter 2
Corpus-based Knowledge Framework Analysis: A Deliberation of Methodology and Outcomes Elena Cotos
Chapter 3
Student Academic Writing: Situated Enactment of Genre, Argument, and Knowledge Structure Constant Leung
Chapter 4
Perceived Effectiveness of AWE for Focus on Forms, Focus on Meaning, and Interactional Modifications Aysel Saricaoglu, Evgeny Chukharev-Hudilainen, Hui-Hsien Feng
Chapter 5
Coaching as Activity/Social Practice Carolyn Kristjánsson, Bernard A. Mohan
Chapter 6
Voting as a Social Activity: Voter Suppression, the Common Good, and Evidence Bernard A. Mohan
Chapter 7
Disciplinary Differences in the Knowledge Structures in University Lecture Slides Zhi Li
Chapter 8
Causal Explanations in Physics: A Functional Analysis of EFL Lectures and Textbook Excerpts Kimberly Becker, Xiaoping Liang
Chapter 9
The Role of Functional Recasts in EFL Undergraduate Students’ Learning of Intercultural Communication Masaki Kobayashi, Emi Kobayashi
Chapter 10
Online Teacher Training Using the Knowledge Framework and the Teaching–Learning Cycle for Literacy Development Stephanie Link, Jesse Gleason
Chapter 11
Opportunities and Challenges of the Knowledge Framework for In-service Teacher Development: A Case Study Jingzi Huang, Margaret Berg
Chapter 12
The Knowledge Framework for Building Teacher Awareness of Language in Content Instruction Jesse Gleason, Elena Schmitt
Chapter 13
Learning and Using the Knowledge Framework as a Language and Content Teaching Unit Project: A Case Study Amy Walton, Gulbahar H. Beckett
Chapter 14
Enhancing Disciplinary Learning Experience through an Adjunct English-across-the-Curriculum Model Esther Ka-man Tong, Cecilia Fung-Kan Pun, Phoebe Siu
Chapter 15
Implementing the Knowledge Framework in a Content-Based Language Teaching Classroom Hong Ma, Jian Zhou
Chapter 16
Knowledge Structures as Designs: Tracing Patterns across Textual Trajectories Diane Potts
End Matter
Index Tammy Slater


Social Practices in Higher Education is a fitting tribute to the father of integrated language and content instruction. This volume expands Bernard Mohan’s seminal work (Mohan, 1986) and subsequent research in elementary and secondary education to studies in higher education, teacher development and coaching, social discourse analysis, and more. The durability, flexibility, and applicability of the Knowledge Framework is clear. Researchers have used the framework across subject disciplines to analyze diverse types of texts used in university courses and the academic discussions expressed in classrooms, to enhance pre- and in-service teachers’ lesson and curriculum planning skills in order to strengthen academic language learning opportunities, and to improve university-level student use of content-specific academic language in writing and oral interactions. Readers will appreciate the creativity of many researchers who have applied the Knowledge Framework to a variety of contexts and who show us how to move theory into practice.
Dr. Deborah J. Short, Director, Academic Language Research & Training and Past President, TESOL International Association (2021-22)