Academic Literacy: An Investigation of Problematic Areas in EAP at KNT University of Science and Technology


1 Islamic Azad University, Roudehen Branch

2 The University of Tehran

3 Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch


Despite its sociopolitical basis, Academic Literacy (AL) is recently referred to as a set of complex skills such as writing, which lays undeniable foundations for success in academic communities (Hyland
& Lyons, 2002). This study is aimed at improving students' AL in general and their writing skill in particular at Khaje Nasiredin Toosi (KNT) University of Science and Technology. Based on the domain of EAP (Flowerdew & Peacock, 2001; Jordan, 1997), and among various academic assignments (Braine, 1995; Canseco & Byrd, 1989), students' summary writings at KNT University were selected to be investigated. Besides the summaries, 20 students were interviewed to delve more into the problematic areas. Data analysis of 1270 written errors indicated that sequence of tense, article use, and appropriate selection of words are the most prevalent error types. Further analysis of the data revealed that students had failed to develop their ideas properly in unified paragraphs. Moreover, students were unsuccessful to put their ideas in the simple format of introduction, body, and conclusion. The paragraphs also lacked cohesive ties. The article, accordingly, ends with some practical recommendations addressing the present issues.


Allison, D., Berry, V., & Lewkowicz, J. (1995). Reading–writing connections in EAP classes: A content analysis of written summaries produced under three mediating conditions. RELCJournal, 26 (2), 25–43.
Ashwell, T. (2000). Patterns of teacher response to student writing in a multiple-draft composition classroom: Is content feedback followed by form feedback the best method? Journal of Second Language Writing, 9, 227-257.
Behrens, L. (1978). Writing, reading and the rest of the faculty: A survey.
English Journal, 67 (6), 54-60.
Belcher, D. (1995). Writing critically across the curriculum. In D. Belcher &
G. Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language (pp. 135-154). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Bhatia, V. K., & Candlin, C. N. (Eds.). (2001). Teaching English to meet the needs of business education in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Department of English and Communication, City University of Hong Kong.
Braine, G. (1995). Writing in the natural sciences and engineering. In D. Belcher & G. Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language (pp. 113-134). Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Cadman, K. (2002). English for academic purposes: The research proposal as a contested site in postgraduate genre pedagogy. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 1, 85-104.
Casanave, C. P. (2003). Multiple uses of applied linguistics literature in a multi-disciplinary graduate EAP class. ELT Journal, 57, 43-50.
Casanave, L. P., & Hubbard, P. (1992). The writing assignment and writing problems of doctoral students: Faculty perception, pedagogical issues, and needed research. English for Specific Purposes, 11, 330-49.
Canseco, G., & Byrd, P. (1989). Writing required in graduate courses in business administration. TESOL Quarterly, 23, 305-316.
Cargill, M., Cadman, K., & McGowan, U. (2001). Postgraduate  writing: Using intersecting genres in a collaborative content based program. In I. Leki (Ed.), Academic writing programs (pp. 85-96). Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
Chandler, J. (2003). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12, 267-296.
Clapham, C. (2000). Assessment for academic purposes: Where next? System, 28, 511-521.
Detaramani, C., & Chan, I. S. I. (1999). Learners’ needs, attitudes and motivation towards the self-access mode of language learning. RELCJournal, 30 (1), 124–147.
Dudley-Evans, T. (1995). Common-core and specific approaches to the teaching of academic writing. In D. Belcher & G. Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language (pp. 293-312). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Eblen, C. (1983). Writing across the curriculum: A survey of a university faculty’s views and classroom practice. Research in the teaching of English, 17, 343-348.
Farr, F. (2003). Engaged listenership in spoken academic discourse: The case of student-tutor meetings. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2, 67-85.
Ferris, D. R. (1999). The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes. A response to Truscott (1996). Journal of Second Language Writing, 8, 1-10.
Ferris, D., & Roberts, B. (2001). Error feedback in L2 writing classes. How explicit does it need to be? Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 161- 184.
Flowerdew, J., Li, D., & Miller, L. (1998). Attitudes towards English and Cantonese among Hong Kong Chinese university lecturers. TESOLQuarterly, 32 (2), 201–231.
Flowerdew, J., & Peacock, M. (2001). Issues in EAP: A preliminary perspective. In J. Flowerdrew & M. Peacock (Eds.), Research perspectives on English for Academic Purposes. Cambridge: CUP.
Frodesen, J. (1995). Negotiating the syllabus: A learner-centred interactive approach to ESL graduate writing course design. In D. Belcher & G. Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language (pp. 331-350). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Harwood, N. (2009). An interview-based study of the functions of citations in academic writing across two disciplines. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 497- 518.
Ha, P. H. (2009). Strategic, passionate, but academic: Am I allowed in my writing? Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 6, 3–17.
Hood, S. (2008). Summary writing in academic contexts: Implicating meaning in processes of change. Linguistics and Education, 19, 351-365.
Hyland, K. (1997). Is EAP necessary? A survey of Hong Kong undergraduates. Asian Journal of English Language Teaching, 7, 77–99.
Hyland, K., & Hamp-Lyons, L. (2002). EAP: Issues and directions. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 1, 1-12.
Jenkins, S., Jordan, M., & Weiland, P. (1993). The role of writing in graduate engineering education: A survey of faculty beliefs and practices. English for Specific Purposes, 12, 51-67.
Johns, A. M., & Swales, J. M. (2002). Literacy and disciplinary practices: Opening and closing perspectives. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 1 (1), 13–28.
Lee, C. (1999). Learning through tutorial discussion and learners’ culture: Some preliminary observations from the views of Hong Kong Chinese tertiary students. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 12 (3),255–264.
Jordan, B. (1997). English for academic purposes. Cambridge: CUP.
Lu, D., & Julien, R. (2001). The delivery of EAP courses (English for Academic Purposes) within the changing linguistic landscape of Hong Kong: A time for reassessment. RELCJournal, 32 (1), 106–119.
Lyster, R. (1998). Negotiation of form, recasts, and explicit correction in relation to error types and learner repair in immersion classrooms. Language Learning, 48, 183-218.
Nation, P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Peacock, M., & Ho, B. (2003). Student language learning strategies across eight disciplines. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13 (2), 179–200.
Pennycook,  A.  (1997).  Vulgar  pragmatism,  critical pragmatism and  EAP.
English for Specific Purposes, 16, 253–269.
Rodman, R. (2006). Why learn languages? In E. M. Rickerson & B. Hilton (Eds.), The 5 minute linguist: Bite-sized essays on language and languages (pp. 7-10). London: Equinox Publishing.
Sheorey, R., & Ward, M. A. (1984). Using non-ESL teachers' perceptions of error gravity in correcting ESL compositions. Paper presented at 18th Annual TESOL Convention, Huston.
Silva, T., Reichelt, M., & Lax-Farr, J. (1994). Writing instruction for ESL graduate students: Examining issues and raising questions. ELT Journal, 48, 197-204.
Shih, M. (1989). Content-Based Appraoch to Teaching Academic Writing.
TESOL Quarterly, 20 (4), 617- 647.
Tapper, J., & Storch, N. (2009). The impact of an EAP course on postgraduate writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 8, 207-223.
Tomiyama, M. ( 1980). Grammatical errors and communication breakdown.
TESOL Quarterly, 14, 71-79.
Van Ek, J. A., Trim, J. L. M. (1991). Threshold level 1990. Counsil of Europe press, Strasbourg.
Vann, R. J., & Meyer, D. E. (1984). Error gravity: A study of faculty opinion of ESL errors, phase 2. Paper presented at the 18th Annual TESOL Convention, Huston.
West, G., & Byrd, P. (1982). Teaching writing required of graduate engineering. Journal of Teaching Writing and Communications, 12, 1-6.
Zhu, W. (2004). Faculty views on the importance of writing, the nature of academic writing, and teaching and responding to writing in the disciplines. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13 (1),29–48.
Volume 1, Issue 2
July 2012
Pages 59-74
  • Receive Date: 23 November 2018
  • Accept Date: 23 November 2018