Identification And Remediation Of The Causes Of Students Poor Performance In Essay Writing (a Case Study Of Enugu East Local Government Area Of Enugu State)

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Abstract

          This study was designed on the identification and remediation of causes of students` poor performance in Essay writing in Enugu East Local Government Area, Enugu State. It also assessed the various and possible causes and how each of these causes affect students` performance and result possible strategies to be taken to overcome the problems posed by those causes. The study adopted a descriptive survey design approach in which four research questions were posed. The population of the study consisted of 300 teachers of English Language in the study area, while 130 were selected randomly for the study,  out of the total population of English teachers in Enugu East Local Government Area. Questionnaire of four point scale was used as the instrument was adequately validated with its reliability established using a    test – retest reliability technique. Data collected were analyzed using mean score. The result showed that some problems identified to be the militating causes includes; inadequate training and experience of English teachers, ineffective use of instructional materials during teaching and learning of essay writing and students` negative attitude towards essay writing. Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that, government should put into consideration professional training and qualifications of teachers during employment also should encourage educational bodies to organise seminars, workshops and conferences for teachers. On the same note, government should provide and also utilization of adequate instructional materials.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - i

Certification - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -ii

Approval page- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - iii

Dedication- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - iv

Acknowledgement- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - -  v

Abstract- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - vi

Table of contents - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - vii

List of tables- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - viii

CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION

Background of the Study  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -1

Statement of the Problem - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - 5

Purpose of the Study - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - 7

Research Questions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - 7

Significance of the study - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - -8

Scope of Study - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9

CHAPTER TWOREVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE

Conceptual Framework  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - 10

Theoretical Framework - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -- 10

Empirical Studies - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - -  - 10

Summary of Review of Related Literature - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -10

Importance of Essay Writing - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  -- - - - -  - 14

Method of Teaching - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - 20

Environmental Factor - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - -  -- - - - - - - 23

Theoretical Frame Work - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   -- - - - - - - 24

Theories of Learning - - - -24                                                                                                                          

Empirical framework   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - -  - - -- - - -  - -28

CHAPTER THREERESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Research Design - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - 33

Area of the Study - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - -33

Population of the Study - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - -- 33

Sample and Sampling Techniques - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - 34

Instruments for Data Collection - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - -34

Validity of the Instrument - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - 34

Reliability of the Instrument - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - -  35

Data Collection Procedure - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - -35

Data Analysis Procedure - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - 35

CHAPTER FOURDATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS

Research Question I - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - -37

Research Question II - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - -39

Research Question III - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - -40

Research Question IV - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   - - - - - - - - 42

CHAPTER FIVEDISCUSSION, SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.

Discussion of Findings - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - -44

Summary of Finding - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   - - - - - - - - - - 47

Conclusions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -48

Recommendations  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - -- - - - - - - 48

Limitations of the Study - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - 50

Suggestion for Further Studies - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - -  - - - - -51

References  - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - -- -  - - - - - -52

Appendix - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 55

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

The rate of poor performance in Essay writing in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination is not only shocking but also frightening. In the last few years, for instance from 2007-2009 statistic recorded an alarming average of 60% failure in Essay writing for three consecutive years. West African Examination Council (WAEC) 2009. This result of course calls for urgent attention on the part of those who are the operators of secondary education in Nigeria. Uwadiae, (2009) in his paper presented at WAEC monthly seminar maintained that the percentage of failure rate in Essay writing in the past five years surpasses that of the percentage of credit level.

According to Wikipedia, an essay is generally a piece of writing that give the authors own argument. Essay are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestoes, learned argument, observation of daily life, recollections and reflection of the author. Media report shows that the performance of students in written, reading and spoken English is not encouraging, but there are several other factors that could undermine the performance of students in essay writing such as background of the student, teachers, interest, government and attitude towards academic work.

It is very important to emphasize here that the qualification of English teachers whose sole responsibility is to teach reading, writing and speaking skills, will enhance good or poor performance of students. In order to ensure for accuracy, create motivation and interest, a good qualified English teacher should be placed in charge to teach students. Government negligence and failure to provide the necessary teaching aids has also contributed to the poor performance of student in English Language. It is the responsibility of the government to provide necessary instructional material to help in teaching of essay writing skills to the students of various levels of education. This should be done, so as to avert the influence of mother tongue in essay writing.

          A breakdown of the statistic on the failure rate for 2006 revealed that out of 1,064,587 students who took the examination, 25.63% recorded credit and above, 34.85% made pass while 36.93% got failure marks. In 2007, 1,025, 027 students, only 267,251 (26.07%) scored credit and above, 441,009 candidates failed (41.13%) and 316,767 (24.68%) represented 223,568 students recorded pass and (40.18%) of 387,758 students scored F9. In 2009, 929,271 candidates sat for the May/June West African Secondary School Certificate examination (WASSCE), out of which (29.03%) got credit and above, 33.91% scored pass while 32.91% failed. In 2011, out of 1,190,393 who registered for English Language  1,160,049 actually sat for the examination while only 2,119 or 0.18% came out with distinction, 263,777 or 22.16% came out with credit pass 76,224 or 6.40% failed while there were 51.312 incident of malpractice.

          The West African Examination Council (WAEC) recently released students, have traced the poor performance by candidates in English language as a result of poor Essay writing skills, between 2002-2008 to government and parents, this putting their quest for education into tertiary institutions in jeopardy. Performance of students in the May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with the period, according to WAEC has declined with mass failure recorded in English Language because of poor performance in essay writing and called on the stake holders to initiate measures to arrest the trend. Ojo, (2002) posits that many students perform poorly in Essay writing  because of their inadequate skills in listening and reading comprehension which is an essential in Essay writing .

          There is need to integrate guideline and counseling strategies with classroom activities. This is essential because constant failure in Essay writing as a topic in English language, causes frustration among secondary school students. This is because most institutions of higher learning in Nigeria do not offer admission to students who do not possess at least a credit level pass in English language. Also, most employers prefer recruiting candidates with credit or pass in English language to those who fail the subject. More importantly, in this modern and dynamic case when academic excellence is the priority and order of the day, this basic problem requires prompt attention.

Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a complement to speech or spoken language. Writing is not a language, but a tool developed by human society. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary, grammar, and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols. The result of writing is called text, and the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, storytelling, correspondence and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, maintaining culture, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.

As human societies emerged, the development of writing was driven by pragmatic exigencies such as exchanging information, maintaining financial accounts, codifying laws and recording history. Around the 4th millennium BCE, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form. In both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have evolved through calendrics and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events.

In this study therefore, main focus was to identify some of the failure in secondary school examination in English Language as a result of poor performance in essay writing in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State with a view to proffering solution.

Statement of the Problem

          Akinbode, (2006) alluded that under achievement in Essay writing  at the secondary and even tertiary levels in a noticeable phenomenon in Nigeria educational system. The most noticeable indication of instructional problems associated with poor performance in the WAEC conducted SSCE English examination and the Situation becomes worse every year. Candidates’ performances however, were generally disappointing in the institutions of higher learning, such as universities, polytechnic and colleges of education. The seriousness of the situation is baffling. Nzinga, (2003) lamented the low performance of new entrance at the university of Ilorin and said, the slow clear ignorance of most basic elements of logical interference and most of the students do not have the opportunity to undertake advanced reasoning tasks. From a number of continues assessment and examination conducted by Akinbode for the students over the years, a number of errors and deviant forms in language use have been noticed. Such errors among others includes:

i.        A poor knowledge of tenses and sequences of tenses.

ii.       Weakness in concord

iii.      Winding constructions due to illogical thinking

iv.      Wrong use of prepositions.

v.       Inability to apply appropriate reading speed to reading materials etc.

          The devices which grammar was to limit meaning are its operating principles. It is not surprising that most students in secondary schools lack the mastering of the grammatical principles, which are the higher points of languages. He however, stated that the perceived causes of failure in SSCE Essay writing Examination is as a result of several factors which include; Examination bodies, Government, Parents, Teachers and Students. What then can be done to bring an end to this problem of mass failure of students in English Language because of poor essay writing skills?

Purpose of the Study

      The main purpose of this study is identification and remediation of the causes of student poor performance in Essay writing in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State. Specifically, the study was undertaken:

a.       To find out the teacher factors cause failure of students’ in Essay writing in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.

b.       To find out the lack of use of instructional materials’ increase students’ failure in Essay writing  in Senior secondary School Certificate Examination.

c.       To find out the attitudes exhibited by students that cause failure in Essay writing in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.

d.       To find out the environmental factors cause students’ failure in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in Essay writing.

Research Questions

1.       What teacher factors cause failure of students’ in Essay writing  in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination?

2.       Do lack of use of instructional materials increase students failure in Essay writing in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination?

3.       What are the attitudes exhibited by students that cause failure in Essay writing in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination?

4.       What environmental factors cause students’ failure in Senior Secondary school Certificate examination in Essay writing ?

Significance of the Study

       The study will be of great help to policy makers in the Nigeria Educational System. It will help in the planning for effective implementation in the education sector. It will help the government in their attempt to meet up to the budgetary stipulation laid down by United Nation Education Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO), by embarking on the 26% of the national budget to education sector, bearing in mind that a poorly compensated teaching profession would not attract the best minds required to teach the students, the issue of appropriate finding needs to be reconsidered.

          This study will be beneficial to the government in the recruitment of teachers where only teachers who specialize in their various fields are recruited, it will enhance better out put. It will equally serve as a challenge to them, to update their knowledge especially in this present computer age in order that they will still remain relevant in their field of endeavors. It will also be a guide to some teachers especially those who stick to particular teaching method so that they can vary their techniques.

          The students will also benefit from this work in the sense that it will help them to wake up to the roles they need to play academically to enrich themselves in order to meet up the challenge of the global world.

          If the findings and recommendations of this study are implemented by the appropriate authorities, we will not be talking about mass failure of students. It will urge teachers to be committed to their duties, while parents should encourage their wards/children by providing textbooks and conducive learning environment especially as regards to students in Enugu East Local Government Area, bearing in mind that young child today is a potential leader tomorrow.

Scope of Study

          The scope of the study is identification and remediation of the causes of student poor performance in Essay writing in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.

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