Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Eighty percent of the international students in the US are pursuing their post-graduate degrees (Institute of International Education, 2017) and studies show that the introduction of the thesis or dissertation is the most challenging section for this population to compose. However, most of these studies are based on textual analysis and overlooks the social factor and cognitive processes underlying the composition of this intricate section. Another gap in the literature is the lack of attention to how Latin-Americans develop their writing in master’s programs, especially to Brazilian students, the ninth largest international student population in the US. Therefore, this study aims at narrating and investigating the cognitive processes and socials factors that influence the rhetorical choices of a Brazilian graduate student in a US university. A ten-month case study was conducted, and data were collected through ethnographic and discourse-based interviews and analyzed on the basis of the Cognitive Process Theory of Writing (Flower and Hayes, 1981), Sociocultural Cognitive Theory (Bazerman, 2009), and CARS (Creating of a Research Space) model (Swales, 2011). Results suggest that international students’ home literacy experiences are transferred to the US context and, as Bazerman suggests, their cognition is transformed through the interaction with the research community. This study also confirms that reviewing the literature is the most challenging rhetorical move because of the limited rhetorical awareness developed in both Brazil and US universities.


Dr. James Austin

Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type



© 2018 Gilberto Pereira


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