Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor



This study focuses on native English-speaking business professors to explore issues of stereotyping and error gravity in terms of university ESL (English as a Second Language) students. Specifically, this dissertation has four goals: (1) to discover what types of judgments business professors make about students, (2) to determine whether they make judgments about students based on written language samples, (3) to discover whether these judgments vary according to various grammatical error types in written language samples (whether an error hierarchy obtains for written grammatical errors), and (4) to explore what linguistic variables might influence those judgments. On the basis of personal interviews and a written matched guise survey using ESL students' writing, this study discovered that business professors judge students according to the students' perceived mental states and observed behavioral traits. While on the written survey professors made judgments on many different traits, factor analysis showed that scales loaded in written discourse was found, and a simplistic grammatical error hierarchy was found for business writing. In general, business professors formed more positive-judgments of writers who wrote longer sentences and a larger number of sentences; however, this study has shown that business professors, while aware of the form of the message, concentrate more on content. One implication of this finding is that ordinary composition topics, while easier for the students to write and instructors to grade, might not best serve the interest of the students. An emphasis on authentic academic writing might better serve the students by focusing their attention on producing not simply well organized, (reasonably) grammatically correct prose, but also information rich, factually correct prose. Further, this dissertation provides knowledge about issues of stereotyping in a university setting and reactions to writing by nonnative speakers of English. Educators can decide on the appropriateness of the attitudes pervading the learning environment, and if they find any attitudes to be detrimental to a culture of learning, they can discuss ways to enhance knowledge of the attitudes and possible means of mitigating their effects.


Linguistics, Higher education, Social psychology


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Linguistics Commons