Metadiscourse in upper secondary pupil essays: Adapting a taxonomy

  • James Jacob Thomson Universtity of Stavanger


The concept of metadiscourse, which refers to a range of interactional and organisational linguistic resources, has been increasingly used in studies that analyse professional and tertiary-level writing. Although studies tend to support the teaching of metadiscourse to tertiary-level students and have even promoted its potential value at the pre-tertiary level, the pool of studies that have investigated upper secondary pupil writing is relatively small. This study contributes to this research pool by investigating metadiscourse in 56 English essays belonging to five genres written at Norwegian and British upper secondary schools. By adapting a taxonomy based on several previous studies, the analysis accounts for the particular metadiscourse features in the corpus, and identifies which features characterise each of the five genres. For example, linguistic investigations, which were longer and more academic-like, used more topic and phoric markers to guide readers through the essay’s content. Opinion pieces, in contrast, contained more engagement markers and boosters as pupils were tasked with targeting a lay audience. The results have implications for future research that aims to investigate the use of metadiscourse in pre-tertiary writing.

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How to Cite
Thomson, J. J. (2020). Metadiscourse in upper secondary pupil essays: Adapting a taxonomy. Nordic Journal of Literacy Research, 6(1).
Original Research Articles
signposting, stance, novice writing