A study of Chinese engineering students’ communication strategies in a mobile-assisted professional development course

Li Cheng


The development of students’ professional skills is an important issue in higher education in China. This research reports a 3-month study investigating engineering students’ communication strategies (CS) while they were interacting to do a 12-week mobile-assisted learning project, i.e., “Organizing and Attending a Model International Conference”. This learning project was a major teaching module of the English course of Professional Applications, which used a blended mode of face-to-face instruction and mobile learning. The two theoretical constructs guiding the current study are Communication Strategies and Linguistic Interdependence. Fifty-seven students volunteered to participate in the study. The instruments included eight oral communication sessions, a questionnaire, stimulated recall interviews, the participants’ WeChat exchanges, etc. Results showed that the participants used a variety of CSs when completing the academic tasks. Moreover, these CSs were closely related to the students’ involvement in meaning negotiation and social interaction. Furthermore, the use of strategies to solve communication problems revealed that the participants employed different strategies at different times when doing different tasks. It is suggested that instructors have CS training tailored to their students’ professional needs. Future research should focus on a longitudinal investigation of the amount of scaffolding that helps students transfer their communication strategies across tasks.



English education; communication strategies; mobile-assisted language learning; academic performance

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