Meeting the needs of engineering students in an ESP EFL Thai university context
study and teaching
Full recordShow full item record
Abstract?? 2008 Dr. Chamnong Kaewpet
This study takes into account dissatisfaction with the English ability of Thai engineering students. Based on theoretical and practical perspectives, outcomes of ESP instruction could be improved if the students' communication needs and learning needs were seriously responded to, and needs analysis extended to curriculum development. Consideration led to three research questions: what are the students' communication needs and learning needs, as perceived by key stakeholders; how can the identified needs be built into a new curriculum; and how successfully were the needs incorporated, after the curriculum was implemented? The investigation was based on a course run for civil engineering students, giving importance to perspectives of all involved: employers, civil engineers, civil engineering lecturers, ex- and current civil engineering students, and ESP teachers. The stakeholders participated in different data collection procedures: individual interviews, class observations, collection of students' work samples, focus groups interviews, and evaluation of instructional materials. Five communicative events were recommended and incorporated into a new curriculum, considering related communication needs and learning needs: talking about everyday tasks and duties, reading textbooks, using technical terms in professional Thai conversations, reading manuals, and writing periodic/progress reports. The curriculum design was underpinned by the view that ???curriculum??? was a process, which was shaped by its context and consisted of an interrelated set of other processes. The evaluation was carried out in two action research cycles while the course was underway. It was found that incorporating the needs was successful when the communication needs were also learning needs. The findings suggest that meeting learner needs may not always be successful initially, because many variables are sensitive and changeable, but problems can be overcome with flexibility and responsiveness. A significant contribution of this study can be as an example of how change for improvement can be made in an existing system in a way that does not arouse antagonism.
Kaewpet, C. (2008). Meeting the needs of engineering students in an ESP EFL Thai university context. Doctorate, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.