Stefan cel Mare University (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 824-830
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Definitions play an important role in the organization and transmission of domain specific knowledge. Rapid advances in engineering make it ever harder for newcomers to keep up the pace with the novelty and quantity of specialized lexical items. This paper proposes an analysis of the typologies of terminological definitions available to engineering students in specialized dictionaries, in terms of conceptual accessibility. We started from the assumption that, definitions are fundamental in understanding the concept of knowledge in specialized vocabularies. In our endeavour, we rely on data gathered from working with Electrical Engineering students. A number of 115 Romanian 1st year students participated in the study. More than two thirds of them considered paraphrasing definitions to meet their learning needs best.

The functions of terminological definitions account for further learning outcomes underlined in our paper. The paper analyzes the effects of using different categories of definitions on entrant students having limited knowledge of the field. Definitions allow us to delineate a concept in relation to another, due to its characteristics and to the relationships among different significant elements, and to identify the place that a concept occupies in the domain conceptual system, depending on its various features. Consequently, Romanian engineering students often acquire specialty knowledge in their native language, which proves beneficial for their future professional development.

The observations and the students’ performance in solving specific tasks are interpreted by applying a set of criteria assessing accessibility degree, quantity and quality of the lexical input, and acquisition pace. The conclusions shed light on engineering students preferences regarding the types of terminological definitions in terms of efficiency and lexical acquisition quality. Furthermore, our paper highlights the potential for the training and development of learners’ paraphrasing skills by using definitions as a versatile language acquisition tool.
Meaning, definition, lexical input, Engineering English, terminology, paraphrasing.