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An investigation into STEM students’ uses and perceptions of lexical repetition in their own writing: From early literacy learning to writing in professional life
KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE). KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Learning, Language and communication.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1254-9629
2023 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The repetition of words, lexical repetition, can be an important marker of cohesion in writing, especially in domains where precision and clarity are valued. Contemporary writing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is a such a domain. Nevertheless, lexical repetition is sometimes instinctively misunderstood as a feature of an exaggerated style or simplistic language use. 

Using a classification system inspired by both previous research on lexical cohesion and the specific needs and characteristics of STEM writing, I have analysed 15 project proposals written by STEM students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. The sample is small but representative of KTH’s student population in terms of gender, linguacultural background, and years of academic experience. I examined the students’ ways of using and avoiding lexical repetition when referring to key concepts and also reviewed each text with its author(s) in a semi-structured interview. My aim was to understand the students’ perceptions of lexical repetition as STEM writers and English users. 

 Results of the text analysis show that the more experienced student writers frequently chose lexical repetition to refer to key concepts, and that the less experienced student writers tended to use more paraphrases and pronouns instead. This finding challenges the notion that lexical repetition is a feature of inappropriate or simplistic language use. Results of the interviews show that some students were previously discouraged from repeating lexical items in writing. However, they mostly recognised the value of lexical repetition in STEM writing to avoid ambiguity and ensure inter-sentential cohesion. 

 A second round of text collection and interviews will begin this summer with a focus on newly arrived international students. For the WRAB VI conference, I would like to compare the results of the two rounds of data collection and share some insights from the interviews.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
Keywords [en]
Lexical repetition, Cohesion, STEM writing
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Education and Communication in the Technological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-326035OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-326035DiVA, id: diva2:1752526
Conference
Writing Research Across Borders
Note

QC 20230425

Available from: 2023-04-24 Created: 2023-04-24 Last updated: 2023-04-25Bibliographically approved

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Rinder, Jamie

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf