Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Diane Belcher

Second Advisor

John Murphy

Third Advisor

YouJin Kim

Fourth Advisor

Shuai Li


The current study examines the feasibility of task- and genre-based instruction in an English program located in an under-examined region of the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.), a demographically diverse setting to the far west of the developed coastal region. The study investigates how and to what extent genred task instruction (GTI), an innovative construct harmonizing SLA and genre-pedagogical recommendations, is implemented in this setting, considering local stakeholders’ perspectives with respect to local dynamics. The study further attempts to determine the nature of the teacher support in the target context, considering what additional support might be necessary to sustain GTI in the target context. In the study, multiple sources of ethnographic data, collected over the course of an academic year, are examined via a semi-inductive analytic process (cf. Hsieh & Shannon, 2005; Katz, 2001), developing a case study of the target setting as an instance of GTI implementation in western China. The data are synthesized and interpreted with reference to Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (Engeström, 2001; Roth & Lee, 2007). Findings from the study indicate that most local teachers resist implementing task-based methodologies, viewing them as unfeasible in light of immovable curricular constraints—especially the College English Test (CET), a condition of graduation—and what administrators, teachers, and students view as low student morale. One participant, a “foreign teacher” who is not held responsible for preparing students for the CET, is overcoming low morale with recourse to genred task methodologies which tap into students’ values for “practical” activity, as contrasted to the academic prestige valued by their teachers and indexed in test performance. Implications of these findings for pedagogy, teacher education, and research are discussed.