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Survey of Students’ Practice Habits in Composition Writing Among Secondary School Students in Mangu, Plateau State

Survey of Students’ Practice Habits in Composition Writing Among Secondary School Students in Mangu, Plateau State


Cover Page      –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           i

Declaration Page         –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           ii

Approval Page            –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           iii

Dedication Page          –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           iv

Acknowledgements    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           v

Abstract           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           v

Table of Contents       –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           viii




  • Background of the study – –           –           –           –           –           1
  • Statement of the problem – –           –           –           –           –           6
  • Purpose of the study – –           –           –           –           –           –           7
  • Significance of the study – –           –           –           –           –           8
  • Scope of the study – –           –           –           –           –           –           8
  • Research questions – –           –           –           –           –           –           8




2.1 The concept of composition          –           –           –           –           –           –           10

2.2 Types of composition        –           –           –           –           –           –           –           16

2.3. Theoretical framework    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           23

2.4. Analytical approach: flower and hayes               –           –           –           –           27

2.4.1. Pre-writing        –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           27

2.4.2 The first draft    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           28

2.4.3 Revising –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           29

2.5 Writing process     –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           32

2.6 Empirical studies              –           –           –           –           –           –           –           33

2.7 Summary of literature review       –           –           –           –           –           –           35



3.0 Introduction          –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           36

3.1 Research design    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           36

3.2 Area of the study              –           –           –           –           –           –           –           36

3.3. Population of the study    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           36

3.4. Sample and sampling method     –           –           –           –           –           –           36

3.5. Instrument for data collection      –           –           –           –           –           –           37

3.6 Development and description of the instrument               –           –           –           38

3.7. Validity of the instrument            –           –           –           –           –           –           38

3.8. Method of data collection            –           –           –           –           –           –           38

3.9 Method of data analysis                –           –           –           –           –           –           39




4.1 Mode of presentation of results                –           –           –           –           –           40

4.2 Research questions           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           40




5.0 Introduction          –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           47

5.1 Summary of findings        –           –           –           –           –           –           –           47

5.2 Conclusion            –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           46

5.3 Recommendations            –           –           –           –           –           –           –           47

References      –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           49

Appendix “A”             –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           53

Appendix “B”             –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           54




This study was carried out to make a survey of students’ practice habits in composition writing among secondary school students in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State. The objectives of the study included: to investigate the practice habits of students towards composition writing in secondary schools, to examine the roles of schools in the learning of composition writing skills by the students and to identify the challenges faced by secondary school students in composition writing. The study adopted the survey research design. The population of the study consisted of all the Senior Secondary School II students in the study schools in Mangu Local Government Area. The stratified random sampling technique was used to select 100 respondents from five selected secondary schools. Data was collected from the students by the use of questionnaire. The findings of the study revealed that the students did not find composition writing interesting and so were not in the habit of practicing it. This led the study to conclude that the students had negative attitudes towards composition writing and did not practice writing outside the classroom. In line with the findings, it was recommended, among others, that students should try and form positive practice habits towards composition writing.





  • Background to the Study

In the language learning classroom, the teacher aims at developing learners’ skills. Ability to understand, to speak, to read and write. The ability to write occupies the last place in the order, but it does not mean that it is the list important. Writing is an important tool which enables man to communicate with other people in many ways.

Secondary school students at all levels study and undertake writing tasks at different levels. The writing skills are essentially targeted towards equipping students with the essential writing skills which help them in their training and employment thereafter. Having a good writing skill brings many benefits, writing is the way to help develop students’ ability to use vocabulary and grammar and also increase their ability to use language. This view is supported Ahmed (2010) who adds that learners can benefit from writing as it can enhance vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Hence, it is considered a literacy skill which is active and productive.

Similarly, Airasian (1996) explained that competent writers would be able to take into considerations that variety of vocabulary, the correct spelling as well as the precise grammar required to convey their ideas in written form. As opposed to the transcience of spoken language, writing has a lasting, permanent quality about it whereby it is less redundant, more planned and meaning and shaddels of meaning are conveyed by carefully chosen and placed words (Williams (2005). According to Archibald (2001) written word is permanent and allows the reader some time to analyse and assess unlike spoken words whereby once recorded have short lives and mistakes made while speaking is more readily overlooked and forgotten. Additionally, grammar skills are enhanced as English second language writers make decision about form in which to present ideas. They must apply their knowledge of sentence patterns, frequently visualised as isolated rules, to shape their ideas into acceptable and effective sentences. They actively use knowledge of coordinating and subordinating structures, for example, to emphasise or deemphasise ideas (Badger & White, 2000). This implies that learning to write well indirectly involves improving vocabulary, spelling and grammar beside having longer lasting effect that the words were meant to convey.

            Another benefit of writing is as a vehicle through which students can readily express their critical thinking since it enables enhancement of students’ thinking skills due to a strong relationship between thinking and writing (Bex, 1996) which makes it an invaluable part of any language course (Tangpermpoon, 2008). Analogous to the act of iron; this process will help enhance students’ critical thinking skills. Fahsl and McAndrews (2012) concurred that the connection between writing and thinking is natural. Writing not only accomplish the simple recording of ideas but also helps kids create new ideas. At one level, it is widely accepted that good writing and careful thinking go hand in hand whereby the ability to master writing skill is inclusive of the ability to generate ideas. Brown (2007) agreed that writing is a powerful tool for thinking and learning. As children write, they shape their thinking and personalise their learning.

            Writing is an essential tool to support other skills. If students have good writing ability, they can speak and read the text more effectively. Writing directly benefits students’ reading skills. For example, if you have students write about what they have read or learned (for nearly any content or age), that has dramatically improved reading comprehension. Students are often forced to reread and think more deeply about what they have read. When students have to consider controversial questions and context, they have read to defend their point of view, reading comprehension is off the charts.

            Furthermore, writing is a means of communicating with others that transcends time and space and which involves a writer who produces a text for someone, including self, and under certain circumstances (Silva, 1990). Not only that, it enables communication with large number of people all over the world (Chamot, 2005) and with others removed in both distance and time besides promoting a sense of heritage and purpose among large group of people (Cohen, 2003). In view of that, learners who failed to master writing skill may feel left out of brain loop as they could be unable to put their ideas and thought in written form. Inept writers can also be a less as they are unable to reach out to people and many have to resort other ways of communication for instance, face-to-face communication. Moreover, lack of competence in writing also limit the effectiveness of communication in the workplace and limits productivity and employee relations. Hence it is clear that penmanship and ability to express ideas accurately, succinctly and correctly are especially important.

            Writing enhances learning in students according to Sengupta (2000) generating ideas which fall in the realm of the pre-writing stage is a big hurdle for many L2 writers and this stage invokes complex cognitive skill. Rubin (1997) further explained that writing has the ability to enhance learning in a particular discipline because it help students to acquire content knowledge in the course of analysing, synthesizing, evaluating and making references, students are actually developing their cognitive skills. Hence, the ability to generate ideas for writing can be a clear indicator of a learners’ level of cognitive skill. Writing is a demanding activity especially for second/foreign language learners and yet it is a skill that they have master in order for learners to do well in different subjects in school and are often needed for formal and informal testing besides providing students with physical evidence of their achievement (Richards & Lockhart (2006). This also has direct consequences to the learners’ employability as their formal and informal testing result on their writing skills or lack of it would be considered as a reflection of their mutual competence. The role of writing skill can never be questioned because in the world of work, competency in writing is required to prepare memorandums, job application, proposals, brief presentations, summaries, letters, resumes and direction or instruction to others as writing is considered a fundamental aspect of literacy (Cook, 2001). Being unable to compete the aforementioned could only result in drawbacks. Additionally, learners should also be concerned of importance of writing skills as their physical evidence of their achievement would speak for itself even before the learners are called for a face-to-face interview. As such, being competent in all the other language skills but not writing would definitely be a setback for the learners.

            Today, the education system mostly requires pass mark for the given papers, but also demands good writing and learning ability. At secondary school level, there are many forms of academic writing such as assignment, essay, field report among others. This clearly tells us that students need academic help at their every single stage of educational life.

            Notwithstanding this, many students of secondary school level are not interested in it. According to Rao (2007), many students were never required to learn proper spelling and grammar. These students come to think “English” and “Writing” are nothing but spelling and grammar. To them, writing means inevitable failure. The believe that many never achieve good writing with proper spelling and grammar. They often get low mark which doing a test on writing skill and it affect their learning result. Infact, students often commit many basic mistakes in written work about spelling, grammar, punctuation and organisations. Besides that, learning composition writing at secondary school level have many problems such as lack of experienced composition writing teachers and lack of time to study.

            Although writing skill continue to be tested at Junior and Senior Secondary School examinations in Nigeria, it would appear as if the performance of students in composition writing both in the internal and external examination are below the expected standard set by the examination bodies. The general public has continued to complain about dwindling performance of students in composition writing examination. The Junior Secondary School Certification Examination (JSSCE) and the National Examination Council (NECO, 2018) also attest to this poor performance in composition writing. Thus, students performed poorly in composition writing as many compositions were seriously marred by poor spelling, poor punctuation and faulty grammar. The majority of the students were ignorant of the basic components needed in essay topics such as content, organisation, expression and mechanical accuracy. It is against this background that this research is set to survey the practice habits of students at the secondary school level in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State.

  • Statement of the Problem

Writing is a life skill, not only an essential job-related skill, because it is often the basis upon which others judge one’s learning, values, ideas and contributions to society. Regardless of career or occupation, everyone has to write to communicate with others, whether it is a friendly email, formal business memos, a report, a job application, a press release or a message of condolence. Writing skill determine the laid or reaction one receives from his or her reader. The effectiveness off communication can affect one’s daily life and life course outcomes.

            Difficulties in composition writing are reportedly one of the most challenging tasks which are not only experienced by native speakers but also by the learners of English language as a second language around the globe. Several reasons could account for students’ poor performance in English essay writing.

            In the Nigerian secondary school curriculum, the teaching of composition writing skill is done by the English language teacher. In addition, in order to gain admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria, students must obtain at least “credit pass in English language at the senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE). Students who lack god writing skills are usually unable to obtain the minimum credit pass required as the section that testing the writing skill of students carries the highest mark (60%) of the examination scores. Students’ ability to write: narrative, expository, descriptive, argumentative, speech, formal and informal letter will enable them pass examination in composition writing and also enable them get admitted into any tertiary institution in Nigeria.

            Empirical research on the teaching of writing has focused predominantly on quasi-experimental studies seeking improvement in the teaching of writing using different methods and strategies, however, previous research failed to address the aspects of students’ practice habits in composition writing. Similarly, other researchers tried to examine the perception of students on their essential writing skills. This is still considered inadequate as it also fails to focus on the students’ practice habit in and towards composition writing. Most of the researchers have only investigated the causes of students’ poor performance in composition writing, not minding the practice habits of students in composition writing. In order to improve the students’ competence in composition writing, research information is required about students’ affective factors that could influence their writing skills. This study seeks to fill the gap. This study therefore aims to investigate the practice habits of secondary school students in composition writing in Mangu Local Government area of Plateau State, Nigeria.

  • Purpose and Objectives of the Study

The purpose of this research is to investigate the practice habits of secondary school students regarding composition writing at the secondary school level in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau state. The specific objectives of the study include:

  1. to investigate the practice habits of students towards composition writing in secondary schools.
  2. to examine the roles of schools in the learning of composition writing skills by the students.
  3. to identify the challenges faced by secondary school students in composition writing.
    • Significance of the Study

This study is of paramount significance because it will give information with regard to the habits of secondary school students in composition writing.

            It is hoped that the outcome of this study may serve as guidelines to educational authorities to help facilitate both the teaching and learning of composition at secondary school level.

            The study will also be of help to teacher by providing them with relevant information on the attitude of students towards composition writing as well as how to assist them adequately.

            The study will provide students with the information on the benefits of composition writing on their academic development.

  • Scope of the Study

This study covers the survey of students’ practice habits in composition writing among secondary school students in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State. However, it is to be noted that, despite the fact that the study limited to Mangu Local Government Area, the findings will be generalised to other parts of the state and country at large.

  • Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to guide the study:

  1. What kind of practice habits do students form towards composition writing in secondary school?
  2. What roles do schools play towards encouraging composition writing by secondary school students?
  3. What challenges do secondary school students face in composition writing?



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