Understanding undergraduate students’ learning needs in terms of academic vocabulary

Project: Research-related funding

Project Details


There is research evidence that undergraduate university students’ lack of wide academic vocabulary causes difficulties in their studies and especially in their writing for assessment (Caplan & Stevens, 2017; Treffers­Daller & Milton, 2013). Furthermore, research into reading comprehension found that understanding 98% of the words in a text is necessary for good comprehension (e.g. Nagy, 2005; Schmitt, Jiang, & Grabe, 2011). Knowing a word involves an understanding of the different meanings, forms and uses of the word (Nation, 2013). Previous research into English native speaker students’ knowledge of vocabulary items frequently used in academic texts of several disciplines revealed that these students are not always familiar with all the meanings of academic words (Skoufaki and Petric, 2017) which might influence their efficiency in reading and learning and how they perform in assessment tasks. Therefore, the present study aims to identify the learning needs of undergraduate students in terms of their knowledge of vocabulary frequently used in academic texts by testing the size of their vocabulary and their knowledge of the several meanings of selected academic vocabulary items. The study will focus on Year 1 and Year 3 undergraduate students in order to establish whether there is a marked increase in their academic vocabulary during their studies without these academic words being explicitly taught.
Short title£970
Effective start/end date26/03/1825/03/19