Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2014

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Eric Friginal


This dissertation uncovers and examines linguistic and functional patterns of student writing in the first two years of college. A corpus of student papers from six disciplines (philosophy, English, psychology, biology, chemistry, and physics) was collected, and multi-dimensional (MD) analysis (Biber, 1988) was used to examine the ways that discipline and paper type influence writing. Further explorations of the data compare lower-level student writing to upper-level student writing, professional academic biology writing, and the discipline-specific approximations of an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course. Findings show that specificity of both linguistic and functional properties exist even at such low levels of disciplinary acculturation. These studies are followed by a summary and contextualization of their findings. Finally, future inquiry using collected data and future investigations into student literacy practices are proposed.