EXPLORING STUDENTS' POOR ESSAY WRITING SKILLS
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
DEO stands for District Education Officer.
EAS stands for Essay Analysis Schedule.
ESL stands for English as a Second Language.
ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology.
Ghana National Examination Council (GNECO)
WAEC stands for West African Examination Council.
Ghana Institute Curriculum Development (KICD)
Ghana Institute of Education (GIE)
LLS stands for Language Learning Strategies.
LOI stands for Language of Instruction.
L1 stands for “First Language.”
L2 stands for second language.
MoE stands for the Ministry of Education.
MoEST stands for the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology.
NACOSTI stands for National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation.
NCST stands for the National Council for Science and Technology.
SPSS stands for statistical package for the social sciences.
SQ stands for Students' Questionnaire.
TIS – Interview Schedule for Teachers
The ability to gain communicative competence in writing is an important aspect of language development and academic success for students at all levels of school. However, mastering essay writing skills is a challenge that pupils encounter in secondary school. The Ghana Certificate of Secondary Education (WAEC) examination results in English have regularly demonstrated this, as stated by Ghana National Examination Council (GNECO) reports.
The goal of this study was to look into the difficulties pupils have when learning essay writing skills in English at Yendi Senior High School in Ghana's Northern Region. The study's specific objectives were to: determine methods teachers use in teaching essay writing skills, investigate Exploring Students' Poor essay writing skills, and establish strategies students employ in learning essay writing skills.
The study was based on Badger and White's (2000) process genre approach theoretical model for teaching writing skills. In this study, a descriptive survey research design was used. English language teachers and Manga district form three students were the intended audience. The sample for the study was chosen using stratified random sampling and purposive sampling approaches.
As a result, the study used a sample of 180 students and 10 English language teachers as respondents. A questionnaire for students, an interview schedule for teachers, and an essay writing test for students were used to collect data. A pilot study and the input of experts in the field were used to establish the instruments' validity and reliability.
Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistical approaches such as percentages, frequencies, and the mean, whereas qualitative data was analysed thematically. According to the research findings, the following approaches are commonly used by teachers to teach essay writing skills: lecture, question and answer, and teacher demonstration.
However, group work, peer teaching, and role play, which have been shown to improve writing skills learning, were the least employed approaches. The findings also highlighted that significant Exploring Students' Poor essay writing skills include: insufficient content understanding, erroneous grammar use, interference from first language (L1), restricted vocabulary, and insufficient teaching and learning resources.
The findings also revealed that the majority of pupils do not commonly employ interactive learning methodologies. Based on these findings, it was determined that both teachers' and students' teaching techniques and learning strategies influence the learning of L2 writing skills.
Based on the findings of the study, recommendations were made to help curriculum creators, policymakers, and teachers devise solutions to overcome the obstacles kids face when learning L2 writing abilities.
This chapter discusses the study's background, problem statement, aims, research questions, significance of the investigation, scope and limitations, assumptions, theoretical and conceptual framework based on the study.
1.1 Background of The Study
The ability to gain communicative competence in writing is an important aspect of language development and academic success for students at all levels of school. Writing is regarded as the most significant talent required by students in order to improve their personal growth and academic achievement (Mukulu et al. 2006).
Furthermore, Adams and Keene (2000) state that mastering writing skills can help students deal well with academic pressures as well as function effectively in their disciplines and professional situations. Students in academic settings are expected to generate certain writing styles such as essays, summaries, and reports (Dudley-Evans, 2001).
Writing in a first (L1), second (L2), or foreign language (FL) appears to be the most difficult ability for language learners to acquire in academic situations (Negari, 2012). Similarly, Richards (2008) observes that learning to write in either a first or second language is one of the most difficult jobs that students face, and one that few can claim to truly master. According to Kroll (2003), writing is a complex process.
entails the mastery of a variety of abilities that add to the overall difficulty of writing for any language user. As a result, it is a tough talent to learn for both native and nonnative speakers. Writing, according to Hyland (2003), necessitates composing,
which includes the ability to either tell information in the form of tales or descriptions, or convert material into new texts, as in expository or argumentative writing. As a result, it is regarded as a series of acts ranging from the more mechanical or formal components of writing to the more complicated process of composing.
According to Tangpermpoon (2008), writing is the most difficult language skill to learn when compared to listening, speaking, and reading because it requires writers to have a great deal of lexical and syntactic knowledge as well as principles of organisation in L2 to produce a good written text. Myles (2002), on the other hand, argues that the capacity to write well is not organically developed by exposure to the language.
He contends that writing is learned or transmitted culturally as a collection of practises in a structured instructional setting. Similarly, Byrne (2000) observes that writing is taught through an instructional process in which the student is expected to master the written form of the language as well as specific patterns that are not frequent in speech but are essential for efficient written communication.
He also adds that a concerted effort must be made to provide language learners with writing abilities that will allow them to organise their ideas in such a way that a reader who is not there and even unknown to them may understand them.
Furthermore, Hyland (2002) states that writing is an activity that students must master in order to successfully communicate their thoughts in writing. As a result, it is critical for teachers to assist students in developing writing abilities that will allow them to express themselves correctly and successfully in L2 writing.
According to Ong'ondo (2001), there are two types of writing: functional and artistic. Letters, minutes, reports, notices, speeches, book reviews, and memorandums are all examples of functional writing. Creative writing, on the other hand, is concerned with the ability to communicate or retell information in the form of narration, description, and can also be used to change material into new texts, such as in exposition and argumentative writing.
The study concentrated on creative writing with the explicit goal of exploring the difficulties that students confront when learning essay writing abilities. Gathumbi and Masembe (2005) classified writing skills required for the two types of writing into two categories: basic and advanced.
Basic abilities include appropriate handwriting, spelling, and punctuation. Advanced skills include proper concept organisation, precise language usage, and uniqueness of speech. They also find that writing abilities are the most difficult to perfect in a second language learning environment.
Furthermore, according to Graham and Perin (2007), a well-written essay concentrates on the topic and follows an organisational pattern that allows the reader to follow the flow of ideas. It also includes supporting ideas created via the use of examples, proper vocabulary, and adheres to normal written English language rules such as correct spelling, capitalization, and sentence structure.
English is learned and taught as a second language in Ghana, and it is also the country's official language and the Language of Instruction (LOI) in schools, colleges, and universities. Writing is used to assess pupils' achievement in English and other topics on the curriculum. Writing, like listening, speaking, and reading, is a talent that draws on other language skills.
Writing is recognised as an advanced language talent that has far-reaching ramifications for the way we think and learn, according to the Ghana Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), formerly known as the Ghana Institute of Education (GIE), English language syllabus (2002). Writing also teaches students to think in an organised, logical, and creative manner.
Society expects learners to be assisted in developing abilities that will allow them to articulate their thoughts clearly and effectively. As a result, the syllabus emphasises the importance of good writing skills in impacting students' prospects of success, personal growth, and interpersonal relationships. The syllabus emphasises the importance of encouraging students to become proficient in writing utilising the language structures they have learned.
The syllabus outlines the learning objectives for writing, which include the ability to: write clearly and correctly for a wide range of purposes and functions, use effectively the main structures of the English language by writing logically and coherently on a given topic, and demonstrate acceptable habits in both spoken and written communication, among other things.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The capacity to write appropriately and successfully is seen as an important component of written communication competence among students at all levels of education. However, mastering essay writing skills is a challenge that pupils encounter in secondary school.
The GNECO reports on candidates' English achievement at WAEC level have regularly revealed that pupils confront a variety of problems in essay writing, which lowers overall performance in English as a discipline.
According to the GNECO report for the year 2010 results, many candidates produced irrelevant essays, had poor word choice, used incorrect language and spelling, and lacked logical argument and coherence.
This problem has been attributed in part to insufficient practise and teaching of essay writing skills, as well as most students' failure to read and understand the set texts and literary concepts (GNECO, 2011). In order to help students achieve communicative competence in L2 writing, the MoEST recommends an integrated approach to teaching the four language skills.
Despite this intervention, GNECO reports have consistently demonstrated that students encounter difficulties in writing essays in English at the WAEC level. Over the years, English language proficiency at the WAEC level in Manga district has remained below average. As a result, this study looked into the difficulties pupils confront when learning essay writing abilities in English at Yendi Senior High School in Ghana's Northern Region.
1.3 objectives of The study
The study's objectives were to:
Determine the strategies used by teachers to teach essay writing.
Investigate Poor Essay Writing by Students
Determine the tactics that students use when learning to write essays.
1.4 Research questions
This study addressed the following research questions.
What approaches do teachers use to educate students how to write essays?
What obstacles do students confront when learning to write essays?
Which tactics do students use to improve their essay writing skills?
1.5 Significance of the research
It is believed that the outcomes of this study would serve as a foundation for English language teachers to create instructional strategies that will improve students' learning of essay writing skills. Second, the research would enable curriculum developers and textbook authors to provide resources that address the issues that students confront while writing L2 essays.
The researcher also believed that the study's findings would be applicable to teacher education in general, particularly language education, allowing teacher trainers to devise better methods of training language teachers with specific reference to essay writing skills.
Finally, the study could add to our understanding of classroom research in second language writing and serve as a foundation for future research, prompting other researchers to conduct comparable studies in various locations or levels of learning.
1.6 scope and limitations of The study
This section explained the scope and limits of the investigation. The scope provides information on the extent and range of the variables under research that were addressed in this study. The limits include information on the study's data boundaries, findings, and conclusions. It also discusses the difficulties and constraints that the researcher encountered throughout the research period.
The research looked on students' poor essay writing skills in English at Yendi Senior High School in Ghana's Northern Region. The study also intended to identify the most often used teaching methods and learning strategies used by both teachers and students, as well as how these influence students' learning of essay writing skills. The study included 180 form three students and ten English language teachers as participants.
The conclusions were confined to responses from the teachers' interview schedule, students' questionnaire, and an essay writing test. Because it did not target private schools, the study was limited to 10 public secondary schools. The sample size of 10 secondary schools in the area under research, however, this restricts the generalizability of the findings to all secondary schools in Ghana.
The study also only looked into one aspect of language learning. There was also a lack of suitable published works for a review of related literature in the context of Manga district with relation to problems in developing L2 writing abilities.
As a result, the majority of the research was conducted on the internet. Despite these limitations, it is believed that the findings of this study will make a significant contribution to the study of second language writing instruction.
1.7 operational definition of Term
Achievement: The successful completion of a task in essay writing due to skill, hard work, and interest.
Difficulties encountered by students while mastering essay writing skills.
Communicative competence: The capacity that students must cultivate in order to communicate oneself responsibly and effectively in a variety of contexts, such as essay writing.
Effective interaction: A procedure that actively involves students in essay writing classes that include learning activities such as questioning, explaining, and discussion.
Effective learning is a process that results in the intended outcome in pupils' essay writing.
Effective teaching is defined as a technique that achieves the desired outcome in the teaching and development of essay writing skills.
English as a second language: The English language learned by pupils whose native language is not English.
Essay: A text or piece of writing that students create creatively in response to a writing exercise or task, either independently, in a group, or with the assistance of a teacher.
Improvement: The process of improving one's learning of essay writing skills.
Learning: The process of acquiring knowledge or skills in English essay writing.
Learning strategies: Methods used by students to accelerate their success in learning essay writing skills in English as a second language.
Performance refers to a student's aptitude or level of competence in essay writing as determined by an achievement test.
Second language acquisition and learning occurs after the first language (L1).
Strategy: A approach used by pupils to aid in the process of learning essay writing skills.
Teaching: The process of assisting pupils in developing essay writing skills.
Teaching methods are the activities, projects, and learning experiences utilised by teachers to teach essay writing skills.