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Catherine Salgado MA Defense: 'Hedges & Boosters in Undergraduate Research Recommendation Letters'

Committee: Dr. Matthew Prior (Chair), Dr. Mark James, Dr. Elly Van Gelderen.  ::  ABSTRACT: Recommendation letters are an untapped data source for understanding how and why an applicant is successful in their pursuit of a nationally competitive fellowship or scholarship. This mixed-method study analyzes the frequency, form, and function of Hyland’s (2005a) taxonomy of hedges and boosters across fifty-one recommendation letters submitted for a nationally competitive STEM scholarship. Of the eighty-nine terms that occurred in the letters, there were thirty-seven boosting terms and fifty-one hedging terms (41% boosters and 59% hedges). Despite the higher rate of hedges, the majority these terms were not used to express doubt. Results show that letter writers for prestigious programs use a combination of hedges and boosters alongside their status and expertise within the academy to sponsor promising undergraduate researchers. This study is a descriptive first step in understanding the shared value system between writers and readers of recommendation letters for competitive scholarship programs.

This is a virtual event:

Sheila Luna
Friday, Apr. 9, 2021, 10 a.m.