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  • Background to the Study

Despite the vital roles of the English language, most Nigerian students are unable to acquire proficiency in the skills of the language especially writing. Komolafe and Yara (2010) observe that the poor performance of students in English could be connected to their inability to write effectively. This translates to abysmally low performance of students in other subjects in both external and internal examinations. This is notable especially in students’ writing which is the popular means of expression.

Fluency and correctness of language expression can be fully detected in a composition, which represents one’s English ability (Hong, 2007).The ability to write effectively in English is becoming increasingly important in the global community as communication across language becomes even more essential. Good English writing competence is widely recognized as an important skill for educational, business, and personal reasons. Writing is a complex process that demands cognitive analysis and linguistic synthesis. It is even harder to learn to write in a foreign language, and it takes considerable time and effort to become a skillful writer. English writing instruction is thus assuming an increasing role in foreign language education (Tan, 2001)

Although writing is a difficult process even in the first language, it is even more complicated to write in a foreign language. Many studies have indicated that for beginners, especially English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students, there tends to be interference from their first language in the process of writing in English (Huang, 2003). Writing in a foreign language like English often presents the greatest challenge to the students at all stages, particularly essay writing because in this activity, writing is usually extended and therefore it becomes more demanding than in the case of writing a short paragraph.

Writing is foundational to success in academics, in the work place and in the global economy. In an increasingly demanding world of literacy, the importance of ensuring students’ proficiency in writing can never be overemphasized. The ability to write well, hitherto a luxury is now a dire necessity (Gallagher, 2006). Writing is vital to students’ developing literacy skills. In light of this, teaching learners to write well should be top priority of a worthwhile education system. Gallagher observes that a school that “teaches its children the curriculum without concurrently teaching them how to write well is a school that has failed” (p. 170).

To Yiljep (2018) writing skill is the fourth and last of all the language skills. It is generally termed as the most difficult and complicated skills to master. The first two skills tend to come naturally especially in L1 situation. It is an expressive skill. It is a viable medium of communication to readers, whatever the writer wants to convey. The same author further defines writing as an assemblage of sentences in such a way as to produce a meaningful account of an object or an event. Unlike speaking which is learned informally, naturally and unconsciously from the beginning, writing requires conscious and formal effort to learn.

Sadly, observation typifies the public school system in Nigeria where writing is hardly taught in any meaningful way (Oyetunde&Muodumogu, 2009). It is expected that the English language learner should be able to develop ideas in effective sentences, paragraphs, and write good essays as writing is the medium through which the academic performance of the learners are assessed. However, the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

Hence students’ performance in written English affects their achievement not only in English language as a subject but also in the other subjects. Idogo (2005) and the WAEC Chief Examiners’ Report (2019) list poor knowledge of the rules of grammar, inability to construct good sentences, lack of teachers’ exposure to modern methods of teaching as causes of students’ poor achievement in writing.

            Descriptive writing is one of the functional writings which is difficult enough to be learned by the students. Wardiman (2008) stated that descriptive writing describes the features of someone, something or a certain place. Descriptive writing consists of introduction and description. Introduction is the part of paragraph that introduces the character, and description is the part that describes the character. The students can use the simple present and adjective clause in writing descriptive text. Students often find some difficulties when writing descriptive essay. The students usually encounter difficulty in organizing their ideas.

            Siahaan (2013) mentioned that descriptive writings are different from informative reports because they describe a specific subject rather than general group. Furthermore, Novita (2014) stated that the purpose of descriptive writing is to describe objects or person in which the writer is interested.

            Descriptive essays usually present a verbal portrait of a person, place or thing. This type of writing involves a piece of essay that vividly presents the different attributes or characteristics of the particular person, object, place or event. In a nutshell, description can be said to be a visual material in words. Akoyong (2021) observed that descriptive writing involves describing people, objects or the scene of an accident. A good descriptive work involves making use of your powers of observation. He went further to say that the description should be vivid by giving all the required details to create a clear image in the mind of the reader so that the reader does not only sees, but smells, feels, hears and tastes through the words used. The objective is to produce in the mind of the reader a mental picture, just as accurate as the one in the mind of the writer. The descriptive essay, should be systematic, beginning from top to bottom and left to right for the objects or from head to toe, physical appearance and character for people in terms of language. In support of the view above, Langan (2003) opined that when one describessomething, he gives the readers a visual material in words.

            Also, on descriptive writing, Chukwueloka (2001) pointed out that a descriptive essay says what something is like. It may be a concrete object like a person or a scene, which is a place where something happened, for example a football match, or it could be an abstract idea, and something you see or touch like love. He goes further to say that the major concern of the writer in a descriptive essay is to convey to the reader a visual material of what he, the writer, has seen but the other person has not; that description should be vivid, interesting and should highlight the essential characteristics of the thing being described. According to the same author, what to include in the description depends on the following:

  1. The purpose of the writing
  2. The level of your intended reader, that is the scope of the person who will read the work and
  • The experiences of both the writer and intended reader.

In addition, Akoyong(2021), talking about the descriptive essay with reference to secondary school candidates on whom this research is going to be carried out, says the descriptive essay is a type where candidates will be asked to write out their opinions or views on the problems of the society or the cultural values of the society. In the descriptive essay, candidates’ opinions or views are often expected in the form of newspaper articles, in this connection, some candidates often confuse this task for a letter to the editor of a newspaper organization. According to him, the right thing is for the candidates to assume the position of newspaper columnist when they are writing a descriptive essay question of this nature. In this sense, candidates must present themselves as people who wish to educate members of the public, using the newspaper, on what they know. Since in this type of description, the event or events are what take place every day, the clear visual material of everyday occurrences must be presented in the descriptive essay through the application of present tenses like:

  1. The present simple tense,
  2. The present continuous tense,
  • The present perfect tense and
  1. The present perfect continuous tense.

It can be said that the language of a descriptive writing is in the present, hence a good writer must avoid switching tenses unnecessarily. Therefore, adverbs or adverbials of time, such as:Now, presently, today, always, a few minutes time, etc can be used.

In terms of diction, words of description must be selected carefully to avoid vagueness. Words are the building blocks of any discourse and as such must be sparingly used. Words should not be wasted in a descriptive essay. To create a powerful imagination, the nouns, verbs and adjectives must fit well. According to Anyebe (2017), a good writer chooses his words carefully, always preferring the specific noun to the general, the exact verb to the vague, and the precise adjective to the general. The writer may even employ figures of speech to make his description more powerful. For example, in describing how a man came into the room secretly, instead of saying, “he came into the room secretly or unknowingly, he can write, “The man stole into the room”. This gives more vivid information.

It is in the light of the above discussion that this study seeks to investigate the effect of gender behavior on students’ descriptive writing in selected senior secondary schools in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

  • Statement of the Problem

In the past, a person was adjudged as educated when he or she could speak fluently and flawlessly in the English language. It was common to hear expressions like “he is educated, can’t you hear the way he speaks”. However, according to Obed (2018) learners who speak fluently are not guaranteed to write proficiently. And students who can write proficiently can also perform well in other subjects in the secondary schools. However, over the years, a lot of researchers have lamented over the poor performance of students in writing. The poor performance has been attributed to many factors such as teaching methods, teacher qualification, students’ attitudes, among others. Nevertheless, arguments and research on the effect of gender behaviour on performance of students in English language is on the increase as many researchers seek to examine whether males perform better than females in English.

In the researcher’s experience as a teacher, students perform poorly in writing, especially descriptive writing. Students tend to have poor form of expression as a lot of them are not aware of the language of descriptive writing or even the rules of descriptive writing. As stated above, other researchers have been preoccupied with the performance of students in English language, however, less attention is paid to the gender differential performance of students in descriptive writing. Furthermore, based on the researcher’s observation, it is not out of place to notice that even in the newspapers, males are the dominant writers while females are seen mostly as news casters on the television. This scenario is a gap in research and hence, it is this gap in research that interested the researcher to carry out this investigation to find out whether boys outperform girls in descriptive writing or vice versa.



  • Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this research is to determine the effect of gender behaviour on students’ descriptive writing in selected senior secondary schools in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

            Other specific objectives of the study include:

  1. To determine the mean score performance of boys in descriptive writing skills in Langtang North Local Government Area.
  2. To determine the mean score performance of girls in descriptive writing skills in Langtang North Local Government Area.
  3. To evaluate the difference in the performance of boys and girls in descriptive writing skills in Langtang North Local Government Area.
    • Research Questions

In order for the researcher to have a guide in the course of the investigation, the following questions have been postulated which will be answered at the end of the research:

  1. What is the mean score performance of boys in descriptive writing skills?
  2. What is the mean score performance of girls in descriptive writing skills?
  3. What is the difference in the performance of boys and girls in descriptive writing skills?
    • Research Hypothesis

The following research hypotheses were postulated:

H0: There is no significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in descriptive writing skills.

Ha: There is a significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in descriptive writing skills.

  • Significance of the Study

Gone are the days when the society judges an individual’s language intelligibility through oral fluency. In today’s world where we have social media and other platforms which require elaborate writing, an individual’s proficiency in writing is what makes him to be judged by many as intelligent. The study will be of benefit to the teachers, students, curriculum planners and government as well.

            The teachers will come to know that boys and girls differ in levels of language learning. With this knowledge, they will understand that writing as a skill could be easily learnt by one gender behaviour but hard for the other. Therefore, they will structure instructional materials to cater for both gender behaviours.

            To the students, no two individuals are the same therefore, learning a particular skill could favour one gender over the other. With this knowledge, they will try to do their best to make sure that the inculcate writing as a skill, since it is a must acquired in our contemporary society.

            As one of the most important education stakeholders, the curriculum planners will benefit from this study as they will structure learning experiences which will take into consideration  the differing nature of boys and girls in terms of writing. Therefore, they will structure learning experiences which will further enhance the performance of boys and girls in descriptive writing.

            As the body which has pulls the purse strings, the government will benefit from this study because with the knowledge of the effect of gender behaviour on the writing skills of students, they will organize workshops for teacher and orientate them on these differences and as well provide instructional materials which will be used in the teaching and writing process.


  • Scope/Delimitation of the Study

The study covers the effect of gender behaviour on senior secondary school students’ writing skills. The study is limited to senior secondary schools in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State. However, it is so pertinence to note that despite the fact that the study is restricted to the selected local government area, the findings from this research can be generalized to other parts of the state.

  • Limitation of the Study

The limitations of this study include time constraint and financial constraints. However, these limitations will not in anyway hinder to findings of the study.

  • Operational Definition of Terms

Effect: This is the aftermaths or the result of something which could either be negative or positive.

Gender: This is either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.

Performance:It is the measurement of student achievement across various academicendeavours. Teachers and education officials typically measure performance using classroom achievement, graduation rates and results from standardized tests.

Writing: It is the process of using symbols to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form by meansof pen/pencil.

Descriptive Writing: Descriptive writing involves describing people, objects or the scene of an accident. It involves making use of one’s powers of observation.

  • Format: ms-word (doc)
  • Chapter 1 to 5
  • With abstract reference and questionnaire
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