PURSUING SUCCESS IN EFL ACADEMIC WRITING: TECHNIQUES TO ENHANCE THE WRITING SKILL IN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS - AN ACTION RESEARCH CASE STUDY
Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ECUADOR)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:According to Ecuadorian Council for Higher Education (CES, acronym in Spanish), undergraduate students must achieve a B2 English level of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) for Languages. Hence, in the Ecuadorian public Institution of Higher Education (IHE) where this action research case study took place, the aim is that undergraduate students must reach the institutional learning outcome of effective communication in speaking and writing. However, learning English in a Spanish speaking country is a challenging endeavor. Although the Ecuadorian educational authorities have taken important steps towards providing homogeneous education in the country, high school education is still diverse and unequal. Most of the public high schools have just recently started to teach English as a foreign language. Therefore, opportunities of learning English at an early stages of students’ lives are scarce. The objective of the study is to observe how the combination of diverse techniques enhance the academic writing skill in undergraduate students with heterogeneous English language background. The writing learning outcome at this English level is learning how to write a persuasive essay. For this purpose, the researcher explored the use of guided learning sessions, flipped learning, online university platform tasks, class tasks, critical thinking exercises and peer correction to encourage the writing skill development. Additionally, the group attended to academic writing workshops dictated by the Academic Writing Center (AWC) where they could review relevant writing topics. The sample of this action research study are two classes of English A2 (CEFR) level with a total of 60 participants. The action research case study method provided the opportunity of exploring the distinct responses of the participants to the techniques used. Data triangulation arose from different sources such as teacher observation, participants’ written tasks scores and surveys. Findings reveal valuable information for the ongoing action research process that takes place in the English classroom. In fact, the hours of guided learning in writing appeared to help marginally. Thus, repetition and reflection on the writing process were necessary. Participants scarcely accomplished the flipped learning activities. The scores of writing tasks completed on the online university platform were better than the ones of the written tasks performed during class time. The survey informed that most of the participants read material in English in the subjects of their diverse careers. Moreover, nearly half of the group confirmed twelve years of English learning and previous knowledge about essays. Almost two fifths of the group admitted reading less than 8 books in Spanish. Sixty percent of students confirmed that writing in English is difficult. Among the students who have high scores in the diverse writing tasks, the researcher found students who come from public high schools as well as private bilingual high schools. Despite the heterogeneity of backgrounds, data reveals that writing was possible with this combination of techniques. The results of this action research provide hints for future steps in the academic writing continuum towards excellence.
Keywords: Academic writing, techniques, flipped learning, guided learning, EFL action research