MBA students’ experiences of academic writing: a case study

University of the Witwatersrand August 30, 2010

Author: Deborah Jean de Coning

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This study explores MBA students’ experiences of academic writing, and endeavours to determine the difficulties experienced by MBA students during the writing of their dissertations especially in terms of academic literacy.

Case study research design and mixed methods were used to generate both quantitative and qualitative data in this qualitative study. A constant comparative method of analysis was used to identify categories and themes within the data.

The results of this research showed that the majority of MBA students, while at Business School X, viewed their identities primarily as business professionals as opposed to students of business in an academic setting.

Findings of the study showed that MBA students’ identities as readers and writers are strongly framed by the business genres they encounter in their professional capacities. The study also revealed that MBA students writing their dissertations desire to produce a professionally relevant research document as much as one that meets the requirements of academic rigour.

It is within this arena of academic research writing that a dilemma exists for MBA students regarding the purpose, format and value of the dissertation as a vehicle for reporting research findings.

Recommendations are that academic literacies and genre pedagogy are mainstreamed into the course design of the MBA programme at Business School X and that the repurposing of the dissertation as a genre be evaluated in terms of business relevance.

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