9. STUDENTS’ PREFERENCE IN ESSAY WRITING: THE IMPLICATION ON THEIR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Oko, Onyinyechi Lovelyn – English Unit, School of General Studies
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture,
Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria.
Writing in school is challenging, especially for English as a second language learners. Many learners have acquired different kinds of attitudes towards the learning of writing in schools. That is evident even in their preferences. This work, therefore, investigated students’ preference in essay writing and the factors responsible for their choice. Two hundred first year students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, were randomly selected from four different departments in the university and four essay topics: factual and fictional were administered to them in the Use of English course. An interview was also conducted on the students to know the reason for their choice of essay. The scripts were sorted according to their essay types. It was observed that the students who chose to write the narrative essay were more in number, followed by expository essay, then descriptive essay and, lastly, argumentative essay. The findings revealed that most students run from factual essay writing such as expository, descriptive and argumentative essays. The survey further gathered from the students who have preference for fiction that the essay is easier to learn and is less technical to write, that they like story telling because of the fun. The paper concluded that the preference for fiction indicates lack of adequate skills in factual writings. It also suggests that majority of the students devote more time to watching home movies which are mainly fiction and have little to contribute to the development of their critical ability (Freedman, 1999). The study, therefore, recommended that more attention should be given to the teaching of factual writing to students at all levels of education, especially in the secondary school before they encounter various academic writings in the tertiary institution. Moreover, process approach to second language writing pedagogy should be adopted in schools to enable students enjoy learning the act of writing in the classroom.
Keywords: Writing, second language learners, theories of L2 writing, process writing