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by Dr. Ania Lian, presented at AsiaCALL 2016, Xi'an and published in "Chalenges of Global Learing" by Lian, Kell, Koo Yew Lie and Lian (2016)

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Academic Writing as Aesthetics Applied: Creative Use of Technology to Support Multisensory Learning Ania Lian, Adam Bodnarchuk, Andrew Lian & Cindy Napiza Lian, A.B., Kell, P. & Koo Yew Lie. (2015, forthcoming ). Challenges in global learning: International contexts and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Cambridge Scholars Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

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Why the study and why neuroscience? If we “construct” meaning, what are the building blocks? If reality is not perceived directly, what makes “language”, as in Vygotsky, a “perfect” regulating tool? Is this all we have to regulate perception and therefore meaning (internal logic)? Surely no.

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Abstract This project discussed today is couched in terms of the policies of Australia which promote internationalisation of educational programs and challenge educators to provide the support necessary for all students to engage in their learning in an equitable manner . In this perspective, academic writing is especially relevant as it tests students’ capacity to bring together their combined professional, research and literacy capabilities. The discussion today describes a pilot project which sought to offer a student-centred alternative to the traditional, didactic, approaches to the pedagogy of academic writing. To this end, the study draws on the neurological theory of aesthetic experience proposed by Ramachandran and Hirstein (1999 ). Based on this theory, it develops and tests a methodology which provides students with tools to evaluate the communicative impact of the meaning-making patterns in relation to which they organise their texts . The cross-disciplinary nature of the project resulted in the development of an approach which makes it possible to investigate written texts without relying excessively on the written text .

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Research Questions Can the universal laws of aesthetic experience be applied to academic writing? How can their presence be illustrated and mapped out? How do the students and experienced scholars use these laws in order to manage their communication with the audience? Do the findings suggest any implications for pedagogy ?

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Methodology: what is the process? Choice of Data Interpretation framework Information sources Analysis

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Methodology

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Peak shift : Super Stimulus: the rat’s response is even greater than it was to the original prototype. T ake the average of all faces, subtract the average from, say, Nixon’s face (to get the difference between Nixon’s face and all others) and then amplify the differences to produce a caricature. Grouping : The process of discovering correlations to create unitary objects or events “which must be reinforcing for the organism in order to provide incentive for discovering such correlations” (p. 21). Isolation : Isolation involves focusing on a single visual modality before the signal is amplified in that modality, “this is why an outline drawing or sketch is more effective as ‘art’ than a full colour photo” (p. 24). Contrast : The process of grouping will not happen without contrast. Contrast involves discarding redundant information, to reinforce or allocate attention (p. 26). Information, they argue, “exists mainly in regions of change — e.g. edges — and it makes sense that such regions would, therefore, be more attention grabbing — more ‘interesting’ — than homogeneous areas” (p. 25). Symmetry and balance : It is the agreement in dimension and due proportions in arrangement Perceptual problem solving or generic viewpoint (familiarity) : This law relates to how most people would view something while theoretically it could be seen from another unique viewpoint Metaphor : The metaphor effect involves a combination of unlikely and yet meaning-adding signals (concepts) which reinforce a particular feature, like the curves of a woman which mimic the curves of a tree branch (More Text Needed)

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Andrew Lian

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Andrew Lian

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Andrew Lian No Law applied Text which was read out 1 Isolation (T = title) “On-demand generation of individualised language learning lessons” 2 Isolation (sub-title) Reflections on language-learning I Peak shift (marking the start of a sentence) In a paper entitled ‘The Secret of the Shao-Lin Monk’, published in On-CALL II Grouping (lower than 1) Ania Lian and I argued that language-learning, by virtue of the nature of the human condition, III Grouping (lower than 1 and II) required a re-think in the ways in which it was implemented IV Grouping (lower than 1, II and III) so as to enable it to make room for differences between people V Grouping (lower than 1, II, III and IV) and for the unpredicted and unpredictable needs which they may experience I Peak shift (marking the start of a sentence) Underpinning these conclusions and suggestions for change are the following theoretical issues T Isolation (sub-title)   I Peak shift (marking the start of a sentence) Language and all semiotic systems, and therefore language-learning, are essentially about the management of meanings. T Isolation (sub-title)   I Peak shift (marking the start of a sentence Meaning is not objectively present e.g. in words and situations but is created as a result of each person’s interactions with the world, its various discourses and other signifying practices (or events).

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Andrew Lian Complexity and grouping: Peak shifts, in this context, referred to strategies with which intonation chunks signaled new information. In Figure 1, peak shifts are at the start of the sentence and are the most stressed element in the group. The group which starts with “Peak Shift I” is complex, it consists of 5 prosodic groups (I - V), each group having a clearly distinguishable stress marker. Redundancy , clarity and grouping Each group in a sentence is long and therefore easy to distinguish from other groups. Regularity and grouping The peak in each prosodic group of a sentence is lower than in the preceding group (e.g. groups I – V in Figure 2). Relevance Peak shifts tend to have the same height, except for the first sentence. Headings Titles have a lower pitch and are set apart from the rest of the text. In relation to the universal laws of aesthetic experience, a number of patterns appear. It has to be noted that the principles work together. This means that the grouping principle cannot work without contrast or balance. The following patterns emerge from Figures 1 and 2 :

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Andrew Lian In relation to the universal laws of aesthetic experience, a number of patterns appear. It has to be noted that the principles work together. This means that the grouping principle cannot work without contrast or balance. The following patterns emerge from Figures 1 and 2 :

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The object of study? Complexity and grouping: the principle of grouping The complexity of the whole sentence and each of its prosodic groups is consistent with the principle of grouping. The principle declares that the act of grouping is an act of problem solving , i.e. an engagement in a discovery of correlations to create objects or events. As Ramachandran and Hirstein write, comprehension involves an act of relating high-level ‘hypotheses’ and earlier low-level ensembles (p. 23). In art, this is facilitated when the artist tries to tease the system with as many of these ‘potential object’ clues as possible. Since the grouping does not always occur ‘spontaneously’, in the context of academic writing, the process is enhanced when, like an artist, the author provides the readers with potential object clues (p. 23). In Figures 1 and 2, the level of information provided by the researcher is high (between 4 to 5 items), which makes it possible for the readers to narrow down their understandings of the object or event that is discussed. This form of “unpacking” of the context, enhances the intellectual density of the paper while also making the ideas which form them more transparent or visible.

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The object of study? Redundancy, clarity and grouping: the principle of balance Segmenting “objects” or identifying relevant relationships from what seems to be a “noisy background” is difficult but can be enhanced through increased redundancy (Ramachandran & Hirstein , p. 24). Good balance between more and less relevant information is an important factor. To exert this effect, it needs to be applied consistently, “consistency between partial high-level ‘hypotheses’ and earlier low-level ensembles also generates a pleasant sensation” (p. 23). The principle of balance therefore can be seen to be applied in Figures 1 and 2, where the size of prosodic groups is kept consistent (about 4-5 stresses ).

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The object of study? Regularity and grouping: the principle of contrast . The peak of each prosodic group in a sentence is lower than in the preceding group. This regularity allows readers to establish the relevance between the chunks in relation to the previous groups, with the peak shift marking the theme of the sentence (the key point of reference). The principle of contrast captures this value relationship between the prosodic groups. There is no confusion that what follows is related to the preceding chunks.

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The object of study? Relevance: the principle of familiarity It is expected, at least in English, that each sentence will begin with the highest pitch. This expectation allows readers to re-group their attention, prepare for new information and look for new connections. In art, the principle of familiarity illustrates this expectation. In other words, while it is possible to begin a sentence or a paragraph with no peak shift, an exaggerated stress which peak shifts provide is more likely to be expected and therefore will be interpreted as a clue for supporting meaning-making. In Figure 1, all peak shifts are of equal value, except for the first one. This may indicate that the first peak shift marked the theme of the whole paragraph, hence it was given the highest strength.

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The object of study? Headings: the principle of isolation Interestingly, the titles of the sections always began with a moderate pitch . In fact, in Figure 1, the pitch is lower than in any other prosodic group that followed. The principle of isolation applies here as a moderate pitch distinguishes the headings from peak shifts which begin sentences and which, at least in Figure 2, carry the highest stress.

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The object of study? Principle What it looks like in practice Purpose Complexity and grouping: the principle of grouping   Figure 1 shows that the level of information provided by the researcher is high, i.e. between 4 to 5 items for each prosodic group and 4 to 5 prosodic groups for a sentence. The author provides the readers with potential object clues to assist comprehension. Redundancy, clarity and grouping: the principle of balance   The size of the prosodic groups is kept consistent (about 4-5 stresses per group). This gives readers a chance to pace themselves and distinguish between elements which have different information value. Regularity, peaks and grouping: the principle of contrast The peak of each prosodic group in a sentence is lower than in the preceding group.   The regularity of the falling peaks helps readers identify relationships between the groups, with peak shifts, at the start of each sentence, clearly demarcating the beginning of a new thought (the key point of reference). Relevance: the principle of familiarity Peak shifts tend to have the same height, except for the first sentence   It is expected, at least in English, that each sentence will begin with the highest pitch (a theme). This expectation allows readers to re-group their attention, prepare for new information and look for new connections. Headings: the principle of isolation   The titles of the sections always began with a moderate pitch. In fact, in Figure 1, the pitch is lower than in any other prosodic group that followed. A moderate pitch distinguishes the headings from peak shifts which begin sentences and which, at least in Figure 2, carry the highest stress.

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The student

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The object of study? Principle, practice and purpose Student Implication The principle of grouping. The density of information needs to be high, i.e. between 4 to 5 items. This is to provide the readers with potential object clues to assist comprehension. Each sentence in Figure 3 contains less than half (two exactly) of the amount of prosodic groups than the text of Andrew Lian. The prosodic groups in Figure 3 are shown to contain 3-5 elements. The student, at least in the section that was analysed, provides much less support for the reader to contextualise the subject discussed in the text. This may reduce chances for good comprehension. The principle of balance. The size of the prosodic groups needs to be kept consistent. This gives readers a chance to pace themselves and distinguish between elements which have different information value. Figure 4 shows that the size of the prosodic groups varies from 3-5. The lack of consistency distorts the balance and therefore the rhythm of the text. It may therefore be hard for the readers to organise their expectations as they read the text.

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The object of study? The principle of contrast. The peak of each prosodic group in a sentence should be lower than in the preceding group. Clear differences between the prosodic groups help readers establish the relationships between the groups. Figure 3 shows that the peaks of each prosodic group in a sentence follow the falling pattern. Figure 4 shows one sentence with peaks of equal height. The peaks within the prosodic groups show some falling pattern but not as distinct as in Andrew Lian’s text. The fact that the sentences do not have more than two prosodic groups shows that the text is dense with what the author judges to be important information. Everything is important and therefore no clear pattern emerges that would support easy differentiation. The principle of familiarity. Peak shifts should have the same height, except for the first sentence. Using the same pattern for indicating the start of a new sentence provides readers with clear signals to prepare for new information. Figure 3 shows that peak shifts, with one exceptions, tended to have the same height. However, not all sentences started with the highest peak.   The strategy to use the highest pitch at the start of a sentence was applied mostly, but not at all times. Unless the strategy has a particular purpose, an uneven pattern interferes with readers’ expectations.

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The Student The principle of isolation. The titles of the sections begin with a moderate pitch. A moderate pitch distinguishes the headings from peak shifts which begin sentences and which, at least in Figure 2, carry the highest stress. On average, the titles had a moderate pitch. They appear on the graphs as isolated peaks.   The headings are clearly distinguishable .

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Summary In summary, the pitch patterns in the student’s text tell a different story than the patterns identified in Andrew Lian’s text. For one, the gaps between the groups which carry important information are more frequent in the student’s text: every second intonation group is presented as equally (or more) important. This makes the text dense and readers are left to their own resources to contextualise the idea expressed in the text. Second , the brief gaps between sentences, when combined with the fact that each subsequent sentence starts with a peak which is equally high or higher than the previous one, suggests low level of intellectual density of the text. In other word, the relationships between sentences do not reflect a pattern which would show that the author provides readers with rich ideas which would qualify his or her statements. In terms of the neurological theory of aesthetic experience this is a very significant issue considering that perception, and therefore comprehension, both rely on clues. It follows that texts need to be rich in clues to be more effective and efficient – they need to convey a lot in a short time.  Third , the place of the highest peaks in a sentence varies. Sometimes they can be placed at the start of the sentence, but not always. The logic of this organisation may be justifiable, once the whole paragraph is analysed. For now, though, it is hypothesised that the changes in the rhythm may not work well for the text. In fact, a listener or a reader of the text may find it difficult to “organise themselves in time”, i.e. to know when to expect most relevant information. Fourth , the varying size of prosodic groups distorts the balance of the text. This is not the case in Andrew Lian’s text. Again, more analysis needs to be performed. However, for now, it is concluded that this lack of balance works against the comprehensibility of the text and, therefore, its clarity.

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Significance The way we write is reflected in the way in which we “speak: the written text. In other words, the written text is NOT separate from spoken text nor are the prosodic structures simply pasted onto the writing in order to create spoken text. The prosodic structures are actually integral to the written text. In other words, the long-held distinction that written language is different from spoken language is not entirely accurate as prosodic markers are actually built into the syntax/sequential organization of written text. This also means that “teaching” academic writing is complex as the processes which inform the syntax/sequential organization of written text draw on a multiplicity of systems. These are likely to be ignored by teachers who view texts through linguistics and who assume that so do the students. In short, it is not enough to explain a form. Students are likely to benefit from tools which allow them to self assess and make informed decisions about the meaning-making effect of the forms which they apply. This may not mean that they will comply with the expert. But they now are empowered to play with structures, as they can see that the different relationships generate different communicative impact.

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Research Questions Can the universal laws of aesthetic experience be applied to academic writing? How can their presence be illustrated and mapped out? How do the students and experienced scholars use these laws in order to manage their communication with the audience? Do the findings suggest any implications for pedagogy ?

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The object of study? Thank you

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The object of study?

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The object of study?

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