Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Faculty of Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Marion Milton

Second Supervisor

Dr Graham Mckay


Research in both first and second language reading has shown that awareness of text structure, or rhetorical organisation is related to superior recall of main ideas from expository prose passages. The present study investigates awareness of scientific text structure among tertiary students from different language backgrounds. In this investigation, four reading passages containing two rhetorical text structures found in scientific discourse, comparison/contrast and problem/solution are employed. Meyer’s (1975) hierarchical content structure analysis was used to analyse the texts into top, high, mid and low level ideas corresponding to main and supporting ideas. The research questions were centred around three major areas: 1. Whether subjects from different language backgrounds displayed differences in quantity of idea units and main ideas recalled 2. Whether difference were related to subjects’ awareness of text structure as measured in use of the structure of the original passage in their written recalls 3. Whether the different rhetorical structures produced any significant overall differences in quantity and level (main vs supporting) of ideas recalled by subjects. Forty five first year university students aged between 18 and 20 studying science participated in the study, with fifteen students in each of the following groups: Australian, Singapore and Malaysian.

Included in

Linguistics Commons