A comparative analysis of reading strategies across ESP students of humanities and engineering

Mehdi Vaez Dalili, Mansoor Tavakoli


This study set out to explore whether significant differences existed between two groups of EFL students of different fields of study (i.e. humanities and engineering) in terms of their metacognitive awareness and use of certain reading strategies while reading English for Specific Purposes (ESP) texts. Seventy lower-intermediate college-level students (35 engineering students and 35 students of humanities) completed the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (Mokhtari & Reichard, 2002) to measure their metacognitive awareness of ESP reading strategies. The inventory includes 3 strategy subscales with 30 items: Global Reading Strategies (GLOB), Problem-Solving Strategies (PROB), and Support Reading Strategies (SUP). A series of t-tests were conducted to figure out the differences between the two groups of students in connection with each of the strategies in the MARSI inventory. The results showed that in spite of the fact that the two groups were studying different fields of study, they reported strikingly similar patterns of reading strategy awareness and confirmed having used almost all of the strategies while reading ESP materials. However, the engineering students reported using some types of reading strategies more frequently than did the humanities students. The findings of the study will not only explain the differences and similarities between engineering and humanities students, but also help to challenge the purely speculative assumption as to the deficiencies in strategy-based ESP reading comprehension of humanities students.

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