An investigation into how L2 international postgraduate students select reading sources for their academic assessments

Deborah Durmus

Abstract

EAP practitioners are increasingly being called on to support students in discipline-specific reading-into-writing activities. The range and complexity of academic discourse that both undergraduates and graduates are required to write is considerable (Logan, 2004; Lee, Paik & Joo, 2012). However, good writing requires successful reading. The ability to choose an appropriate selection of reading material loaded with key information to support whatever the writing task requires is fundamental to the development of the assignment (Wingate, 2015). For international students reading and writing in L2, this selection can be a debilitating issue leaving them frustrated and disempowered (Reih, 2002; Head, 2007; Plakans & Gebril, 2012). To survey the difficulties L2 learners face on a UK-based master’s programme, two methods were employed: (i) an individual e-diary which was completed each month for four months; and (ii) two individual pre- and post- e-diary interviews with each participant. An analysis of the data revealed that student choice of reading sources changes, albeit slightly, and for different reasons. The three most prominent reasons for these changes are related to the students’ increased confidence, a developed awareness of discipline and the needs of the assignment itself.

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