Survey of Academic Writing Tasks Required of Graduate and Undergraduate Foreign Students

Bridgeman, Brent; Carlson, Sybil B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-83-18, TOEFL-RR-15
Written Communications, 1984, 7(2), 247-280.
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
Admission criteria college students foreign students higher education surveys writing skills


Designed to define the academic writing skills required of beginning undergraduate and graduate students, a survey of needed academic writing skills was completed by faculty in 190 academic departments at 34 U.S. and Canadian universities with high foreign student enrollments. At the graduate level, six academic disciplines with relatively high numbers of non-native students were surveyed: business management, civil and electrical engineering, psychology, chemistry, and computer science. Undergraduate English departments were chosen to document the skills needed by undergraduate students. The faculty members surveyed appear to view the written communicative competencies of their students predominantly from the perspective of sociolinguistic competence, placing considerably less emphasis on grammatical competence. Although some important common elements among the different departments were reported, the survey data distinctly indicate that different disciplines do not uniformly agree on the writing task demands and on a single preferred mode of discourse for evaluating entering undergraduate and graduate students.


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