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ERIC Number: EJ1116443
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-1554-8244
Familiarizing Postgraduate ESL Students with the Literature Review in a WAC/EAP Engineering Classroom
Melles, Gavin
Across the Disciplines, v2 spec iss 2005
The literature review is an academic genre that has a natural place in theses, dissertations, and other genres such as the lab report. The typical final (fourth) year project in the engineering curriculum is an example where such an extensive review can take place (Krishnan & Kathpalia 2002). Second language students may have special challenges when attempting to write from sources. This article evaluates a program in which the Faculty of Engineering, University of Melbourne, enrolls a culturally and linguistically diverse group of ESL students into its postgraduate coursework (M.A.) and Ph.D. research programs, many of whom also enroll in a semester-long (12 week) English for Academic Purposes (EAP) class called "Presenting Academic Discourse-Engineering." Enrollees include those who do not meet the minimum language requirements and others who are recommended to take the course by their thesis supervisors. These students arrive in Australia with varied levels of English proficiency, diverse cultural backgrounds, and prior educational experiences. Students from Asia often come not only with limited English proficiency but also with other academic practices that may be obstacles to good writing in a Western academic context, including conservative rather than critical learning approaches and issues with establishing an academic voice through writing (Ballard & Clanchy 1984; Ramanathan & Atkinson 1999). Ward (2001) notes that Engineering students in Thailand often learn strategies to avoid reading engineering texts in English in their undergraduate training, a practice which may perhaps extend to other Asian countries. Not surprisingly, a limited ability to read required texts is not conducive to learning to write a literature review. These cultural dispositions may lead to challenges for students and reluctance to accept the value of extended reading and writing. A number of students in all four semesters studied for this paper (2002-2003) noted the EAP course was their first experience with critically evaluating and writing about sources, and several students referred to the challenges of reading extended texts alluded to by Ward (2001). This paper has foregrounded the need for students to understand and engage in critical analysis through an assessment process that culminates in a literature review task and oral presentation based on discipline-specific research sources. The research students in the program had an opportunity within the course to begin drafting authentic literature reviews for their research projects and receive feedback on the communicative quality of the text. Steps toward critical appraisal in a literature review are provided.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia; Thailand
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A