An investigation of the role of background knowledge on students’ performance in ESP tests

2014 IJRSET – Volume 3 Issue 1


Ahmadvand, Mohammad*
University of Isfahan, Iran (

Barati, Hossein
University of Isfahan, Iran (


Unlike the past, recent reading theories and models define reading comprehension as an interactive process involving both reader and text characteristics (Day and Park, 2005). This interaction is influenced by different factors one of which is background knowledge. This study aimed at investigating the effect of background knowledge on the reading comprehension of two groups of homogenous students majoring in Theology and Psychology respectively. Two ESP tests were given to the two groups, one on theology and the other one on psychology, each one consisting of 40 multiple-choice items. The researchers wanted to see which of the two groups performed better in the test related to their major. The results of the study show that there was no significant difference between the two groups’ performance in the two ESP tests suggesting that background knowledge is not so important in performing in ESP tests, although there were differences between the two groups regarding their knowledge and abilities on the whole. The implications of this finding will be discussed at the end.

Keywords: background knowledge; English for specific purposes; comprehension; formal schemata; content schemata



*Corresponding Author