University literature essays in the UK, New Zealand and the USA: Implications for EAP

Hilary Nesi, Neil Matheson, Helen Basturkmen

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Abstract

This paper reports findings from a preliminary study of upper-level and high-scoring undergraduate literature essays from the Academic Writing at Auckland (AWA) corpus, the British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus, and the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers (MICUSP). The study aimed to identify differences in students’ academic writing style in these contexts. Just under 100 argumentative essays were analyzed (25 each from Britain and New Zealand and 47 from Michigan), using the Multidimensional Tagger (Nini, 2014), the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (Pennebaker et al., 2015), measures of readability and manual analyses including counts of references. The essays from MICUSP were found to be the most interactive and conversational, and the essays from AWA were found to be the most formal and ‘academic’. The essays from BAWE fell somewhere in the middle on most measures. This paper reports on these differences and suggests their implications for students studying in “Inner Circle” institutions, and for the teaching and learning of EAP around the world. Plans for the next stage of the research are also outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-38
Number of pages13
JournalNew Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics
Volume23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017

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