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Investigating the English Language Needs of Engineering Students

Mohammad Salehi

Sharif University of Technology

Abstract

            The purpose of the study was three-folds: to evaluate students’ needs, to evaluate the psychometric qualities of the developed questionnaire, and to explore the possibility of writing a textbook based on the insights gained from the study.  To evaluate the students’ needs, wants, and lacks (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987), a questionnaire was administered to 225 students at Sharif University of Technology when they took their final exams. Students’ scores were made use of with respect to one dimension of the questionnaire which dealt with students’ self assessment of themselves most of which correlate positively with their final scores. Another purpose of the study was to evaluate the questionnaire itself in terms of its statistical properties. In other words, a construct validation study was conducted. There were distinct parts to this questionnaire. A confirmatory factor analysis using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation was applied to see if different needs were neatly delineated by the questionnaire (see Hatch and Lazaraton, 1991 for limitations of PCA). Having applied a CFA with PCA using a three-factor solution, it was seen that items loaded on the expected factors with high loadings. In terms of students' needs, here are the findings: Translation was not deemed appropriate. Note taking was not considered important in their future careers. Technical writing was considered to be very important. Unfortunately, the skill has been totally ignored in the English curriculum in the university. 

Key Words: Needs Analysis, Varimax Rotation, Exploratory Factor Analysis, Confirmatory Factor Analysis 

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