Pragmatic (Im)Politeness and Group Gender Composition in Face-To-Face and Virtual Communication: Tunisian Undergraduate Students as a Case Study


Although the literature on group gender composition in the classroom derives from a variety of research disciplines, including sociolinguistics and educational psychology, little attention has been paid to approaching this contextual factor pragmatically. This study, therefore, uses Brown and Levinson's (1987) and Culpeper's (1996) pragmatic theories of (im)politeness in investigating the impact of different group gender composition conditions (male-only, female-only, and evenly-mixed groups) on students' linguistic behaviour in the Tunisian context. Seventy-two undergraduate students shall be divided into 36 groups of four participants each. Half of these groups will meet face-to-face, whereas the other half will communicate using Skype as a text-based synchronous chat utility. Each group will be assigned an intellective task on which they have to reach a consensus, with English as the communication medium. Afterwards, a 7-Likert scale questionnaire shall be administered to rate participants’ satisfaction with the group discussions. Participants of both genders are predicted to demonstrate more hostility in the text-based chat system than in face-to-face communication. It is also predicted that, in both contextual settings, male-only groups will prove to be much more aggressive than female-only groups, whereas evenly-mixed groups shall take a middle ground. Finally, it is expected that female-only groups will be more satisfied with the group process than either male-only or evenly-mixed groups. Results from this study might better help teachers consider rearranging male and female groups in such a way as to downplay face-threatening acts in both conversational settings and improve students’ experiences with group discussion activities.

Author Information
Amin Zouch, Faculty of Letters and Humanities of SFAX, Tunisia

Paper Information
Conference: ECTC2015
Stream: e-learning and collaborative learning

This paper is part of the ECTC2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon