The effect of topical knowledge on ESP learners’ writing quality: complexity, accuracy, and fluency measures
Hussein Meihami – Naser Rashidi
Practitioners of English for specific purposes (ESP) appraise the impact of different factors in writing quality of ESP learners. One of the least researched factors which seems to play an undeniable role in writing quality of ESP learners is topical knowledge. Given that, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of topical knowledge on writing quality of ESP learners in terms of complexity, accuracy, and fluency measures. To this end, 34 civil engineering students whose language proficiency was at upper-intermediate level and studied at the seventh semester of BA participated in this study. The participants were asked to write about a topic requiring general knowledge and the one demanding topical knowledge. A series of ANOVAs were run to analyze the writing quality of ESP learners, examining complexity, accuracy, and fluency measures. The results revealed that ESP learners produced more accurate and fluent writing productions when they wrote about the topic requiring topical knowledge. However, there was no statistically significant difference in the writing quality of ESP learners in terms of complexity measures when they wrote about general and topical prompts. The findings carry some implications for assessing and teaching writing skill in ESP context.
Key words: topical knowledge, writing quality, ESP learners, accuracy, fluency