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Ph.D. Thesis Defense




A Corpus Informed Study on Learning Technical Collocations by Environmental Engineering Students   


Umut Salihoğlu

Date & Time: Wednesday, February 27th, 2019, 14.00

Place: Faculty of Education, Room 4E04


All interested are cordially invited.


The present study attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of explicit and implicit instruction of technical collocations in an introductory level engineering course given in English for second year environmental engineering students. The participants of the study were 61 engineering students at a Turkish state university located in north-west of the country. The participants were randomly assigned to the two learning conditions. The pre-testing of vocabulary and reading comprehension levels indicated that groups were similar to each other at the beginning of the semester. Prior to the instruction, a corpus of 89 engineering books comprised of 17 million words was compiled and technical keywords and their collocations were extracted to serve learners with field-specific technical collocations. Over a period of 14 weeks, the students in the implicit learning group were exposed to the target collocations by reading and listening to texts, whereas the learners in the explicit group completed eight different input- and output- based collocational learning tasks. The effectiveness of the learning conditions and tasks were assessed through a battery of four receptive and productive “knowledge of form and meaning of collocations” tests developed by the researcher and used as pre- and post-tests. To determine whether there were significant differences between the gain scores of the groups on the receptive and productive collocation tests, independent t-tests and Mann-Whitney U tests were performed. Overall, there were statistical differences between the mean scores of the two groups on all four measures at the end of the semester. The results of the study confirmed that the explicit study of field-specific collocations followed by various input and output-based activities effectively contributed to learning of technical collocations. In this regard, the implementation of an activity-based intentional collocation teaching module has proven successful in supporting the language aspects of an engineering class for multi-word learning. The present study concludes with pedagogical implications for engineering courses, limitations and suggestions for further research.

Keywords: Collocations; Explicit & Implicit Instruction; English for Specific Purposes; Corpus Compilation.