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Epstein, Ryan
Professor Leslie Wolcott
ENC 1102-0M03
7 December 2015
Genre Analysis
When thinking of the word genre, one usually thinks of a type of music, like country,
or a section of books in the library, like science fiction. But in terms of english composition, and
according to Amy J. Devitt, the word genre means a typical way of responding to a repeated
rhetorical situation within a discourse community that has developed over time (Devitt, Miller,
Bazerman). Genres are present everywhere in all discourse communities. According to John
Swales, discourse communities are groups of people involved in and communicating about a
particular topic, issue, or in a particular field (Swales). In the career I plan on pursuing, sports
psychology, which is a great example of a discourse community, there are many types of genres
In sports psychology, a questionnaire is a common type of genre. This type of genre is
used as a way for the psychologist to get to know the athlete better, by asking a series of mental
toughness/health questions. For example, a basketball player may come in to the office after
struggling to cope with a loss to a buzzer-beater. One of these texts may contain a situation that
says however bad things are, I usually feel they will work out positively in the end, and to
choose a number 1-5, 1 meaning I strongly disagree and 5 meaning I strongly agree. This is
what is known as a survey-based questionnaire The rhetorical situation can clearly be seen in this
type of text.

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Another type of questionnaire might be for a football player who received a concussion,
for example, and is having trouble recovering mentally from the injury, because they want to get
back on the field as soon as possible. Before they begin seeing the psychologist, they must fill
out a questionnaire from what is called the SCAT or, the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool.
This includes questions asking about how certain symptoms affect the patient, with a section to
rate these symptoms 0-6, 0 meaning no affect at all, and 6 meaning severe.
Sometimes, questionnaires that involve only choosing a number to determine a situation
dont give enough information. To solve, this, there are alternative questionnaires that contain
questions with blank text boxes after so the patient can provide the details necessary. This is what
is known as an open questionnaire, since the patient can answer the question openly and freely.
For example, a soccer player may walk into the office in hopes of boosting their confidence on
the field. The questionnaire they receive may contain questions like What are the main reasons
for your participation in sport and exercise? or Spend a few minutes thinking about when you
last performed a sport activity well. How did it make you feel? Why do you think you performed
well on that particular day?. The psychologists are to study these questionnaires after the
athletes have completed them and use them as a guide to help the athlete with whatever they are
feeling they need help with.
The survey-based questionnaire, the SCAT, and the open questionnaire all have a
common goal, and that is to assess the patient. They all have similarities, which are asking
personal questions, and they are all looked over and read by both the patients and doctors/
psychologists. Along with the similarities, they have their differences. These include the different
types of injuries the athletes received, and the type of doctor/psychologist they go to. For

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example, the SCAT results would go to a neuropsychologist, since the SCAT involves head
These genres play a huge role for the athlete and the psychologist throughout their time
together. They are written in a way that an athlete, who doesnt understand the field of sports
psychology, can easily understand the material. At the beginning, as mentioned before, the
athletes fill out the questionnaire in order for the psychologist to get to know the athlete better, so
they can develop the right methods to help them succeed in their sport. Then, after the series of
sessions, the athlete fills out the same exact questionnaire that they filled out prior to seeing the
psychologist for the first time to see how they improved throughout this journey. This is a smart
strategy because its a great way to boost the athletes confidence, seeing how far they have
come, and this makes them more likely to succeed in their sport. These documents usually stay
between the psychologist and the athlete, and not anyone else, due to the importance of
confidentiality. They are kept in records for the psychologist to access at any time in case they
need to check up on something involving the athlete. These three types of questionnaires are
great examples of a genre because even though they are different, they share a common goal.
In conclusion, genres have a lot more meaning than a section of books in the library or a
type of music; they are more complex than the usual individual would think. When being
introduced to a new or unfamiliar discourse community, one may have trouble understanding
some or all of the genres within the community, so they gain experience within the community
eventually learn all about the community and its genres. Just like with the athletes, they may not
know what to expect when receiving their questionnaires, but after reading through them and
filling them out, they understand the reason for these genres. After reading Devitt and Swales

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texts, I have gained a great amount of knowledge with discourse communities and the genres
within them, and I plan on using this new knowledge for my career in sports psychology and any
other future communities I am introduced to.

Works Cited
Devitt, Bawarshi, Reiff. "Materiality and Genre in the Study of Discourse Communities.
College English, Vol. 65, No. 5, Special Issue: Materiality, Genre, and Language Use.
May 2008. pp. 541-558.
Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Communities. Ann Arbor: Cambridge University Press.