Year: 1992

Author: Cobbin, Deirdre, Farrell, Helen, Saunders, Shirley, Heyman, Sam, Mohan, Terry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper presents some of the finding from a series of investigations of English and technical reading skills involving 336 undergraduate students at the University of Technology, Sydney and undertaken during Autumn Semester 1992. In the initial study, 101 Non-English speaking background students (NESB) and 235 English speaking background students (ESB) completed the English Skills Assessment Part II (ESA II). The ESA test batteries were developed by The Australian Council for Educational Research to meet the needs for a comprehensive, readily administered test of basic English and reading skills. A major use of the ESA is as a diagnostic tool. Emphasis when interpreting test scores is upon the type of errors made by students rather than the total test score (ACER 1982).

In subsequent studies, randomly selected subgroups of the same student body participated in investigations into the effects of various factors upon recall of text content, or upon comprehension of technical material.

This paper focuses on three important study findings:
1. The difference in performance on the tasks for ESB and NESB student groups
2. The major problems evidenced by students in comprehension of a passage of technical text
3. Strategies that may assist students to improve comprehension of technical reading materials