Meeting Writing Needs Of Content Courses English Language Essay

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English language is considered one of the most important languages of the world because it is a common language and spoken in many countries. It is considered as universal language. Most of the universities worldwide include English as one of their major subjects. At the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) English is the language of instruction and communication. All incoming IIUM students are required to provide proof of their English language proficiency based on International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IIUM proficiency test that is English Placement Test (EPT) before they are allowed to undertake credit-bearing Kulliyah (faculty) courses. Students who do not fulfill the minimum English language requirements stipulated by the university are required to undergo the Intensive English Language Program offered by the Centre for Languages and Pre-University Academic Development (CELPAD). CELPAD, which was instituted in 1993, provides pre-university and Kulliyah-based language courses at the IIUM. It is also responsible to assess the English language proficiency of incoming students whose native language is not English (Kosai, 2001). The EPT consists of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. If the students are able to meet the minimum language requirement stipulated by the university, they are allowed to undertake kulliyyah courses. However, if they do not fulfill the minimum language requirement they are required to register for the English courses in the Intensive English Language Programme conducted by CELPAD.

from the EPT. Students will be allowed to pursue kulliyyah courses upon attainment of the minimum English language requirements.

English language consists of two skills; productive and receptive skills. The productive skills are speaking and writing because learners doing these need to produce language. They are also known as active skills. The receptive skills are listening and reading, because learners do not need to produce language to do these, they receive and understand it. These skills are sometimes known as passive skills. In this research, the researcher will focus on writing. Writing is important because it is used extensively in higher education and in the workplace. If students do not know how to express themselves in writing, they will not be able to communicate well with professors, employers, peers, or just about anyone else. Much of professional communication is done in writing: proposals, memos, reports, applications, preliminary interviews, e-mails, and more are part of the daily life of a college student or successful graduate. Even if students manage to learn the material in their college classes without knowing how to write well, they won't be able to express their knowledge to the people who are making the big decisions. Potential employers would not know whether or not head knowledge can be applied to everyday demands unless it is through a spoken interview. Even the majority of certifications and licensures require basic writing skills to obtain. The inability to write makes for a stillborn career. Thus, writing skills can be the ticket to better grades and greater academic achievement. The need for workers with writing skills will increase as reported by the U.S. Labor Department that most future jobs will require writing skills.

At the IIUM, once the students are in their respective Kulliyyahs they are expected to undertake Kulliyyah courses. Kulliyyah courses are known as content-based courses where they need to focus on specific content of factual information about a subject. Students need to face the task of mastering content area in subjects such as Science, Chemistry, Business, Sociology and other subjects which are taught in English in their own Kulliyyah. Thus, in order to have an effective teaching and learning a good piece of piece of writing is needed to deal successfully with the students' academic demand. In other words, the students need to accomplish certain academic tasks using academic skills in English that is writing. At university level, one of the subjects that help to enhance student's writing is English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Students who attended EAP classes will learn to construct text in their own discipline. Flowerdew & Peacock (2001) mentioned that EAP is generally defined as teaching English with the aim of facilitating the students' study or research in language.


English language is the medium of communication in IIUM. Students of IIUM need to master all the four skills, in particular, writing. Writing is important compared to other skills because students will be judged through their writings once they undertake their content courses in their respective Kulliyyah. Chow (2007) mentioned that at tertiary or university level, students are expected to know how to express themselves clearly and effectively through their writing especially when they have to complete writing related assignments such as research papers or course projects. Currently, not many research has been done in investigating the written performance of the content courses that meet the needs of the Kulliyyah. It is important to identify whether the students written performance is meeting the writing needs of their content courses in their respective Kulliyyah. In other words is there the researcher wants to find out whether there is a gap between students' standards of written English and the written standards required by the Kulliyah.


The main objective of the study is to investigate the writing performance of the students based on the EPT writing and the written performance required by the Kulliyahs. The secondary objective is to examine students' writing with regard to their strengths and weaknesses. The study focuses on writing because writing is one of the most important skills students need to acquire in order to succeed in meticulous credit-bearing English medium programmes. The assessment of writing incorporates the assessment of grammar, sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, clarity in terms of explanation and reasoning, organization and the integration of the text.


The main objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between students' written performance based on the EPT and the written performance required by the Kulliyahs. Thus, the following research questions are addressed:

What is the writing performance in English of IIUM students based on the EPT?

What is the writing performance in English of IIUM students according to Kulliyah lecturers?

Is there a difference between the writing performance in English of IIUM students based on the EPT and IIUM lecturers' assessment?

What are the strengths of students' writing according to lecturers?

What are the weaknesses of students' writing according to lecturers?


This study is significant because it seeks to investigate whether incoming Kulliyah students meet the needs of the Kulliyah in terms of students' written performance. If the needs are not met, the results of the study will provide useful insights into the issue of the English language proficiency of the IIUM students, in particular, students' written English. Furthermore the findings of the study will assist CELPAD and the Kulliyahs in planning and implementing achievable goals of enhancing students' written English.



This chapter deals with relevant literature on EAP, needs analysis, the purpose of need analysis, models of need of analysis, writing, models of writing and the writing problems.


Yurekli (2012) mentioned that English for academic purposes (EAP) is usually used in a higher education setting where it enables students to use language appropriately for study. It is a challenging and multi-faceted area within the wider field of English Language Learning and Teaching (ELT) and is one of the most common forms of English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

According to Catterall & Ireland (2010), EAP programs will focus on skills required to perform well in an English-speaking academic context across core subject areas generally encountered in a university setting. Programs may also include on the more specific linguistic demands of a particular area of study, for example business subjects. Programs may be divided into pre-sessional courses and courses taken alongside students' other subjects. In the former case, sometimes EAP courses may be intended to raise students' general English levels so that they can enter university. In common with most language teaching, EAP instruction teaches vocabulary, grammar and the four skills (reading, writing, speaking - including pronunciation - and listening), but usually tries to tie these to the specific study needs of students; for example, a writing lesson would focus on writing essays rather than, say, business letters. Similarly, the vocabulary chosen for study tends to be based on academic texts. In addition, EAP practitioners often find that, either directly or indirectly, they are teaching study skills and often having to tackle differences in educational culture, such as differing attitudes to plagiarism.

Gillett, A & Wray, L (2006) mentioned that EAP has the broad aim of helping learners to study or research in English, it covers a wide range of academic communicative practice including:

Pre-university, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching (from materials design to lectures and classroom activities)

Classroom interactions (tutorials, feedback, seminar discussions etc.)

Research genres (journal articles, conference papers, grant proposals etc.)

Student writing (assignments, exams, dissertations etc.). 

2.1.2 Research in EAP Area

A number of research been done in EAP area. Catterall & Ireland (2010) did a research on the final year students in the Business School of the University of Huddersfield. The students need to write a dissertation for their final year project. However, the levels of functional English of the students do not allow them to complete their final year dissertation. Thus, they need to acquire new skills. As the students are in the final year there was a problem of time limitation. A critical pragmatic approach has been adopted in developing a programme of writing skills support which enables students to adapt quickly to the demands of study at final year undergraduate level. The approach follows a pragmatic tradition but recognises the importance of critical skills and the necessity to practice of such skills. Quantitative research into student attendance and achievement indicates that this approach has had a positive impact while findings indicate that this approach to academic writing might be beneficial in similar settings.

Another excellent research was done by Renganathan (2000) on the 167 first year students in one of the private universities. The sample consists of both male and female students. All 167 students sat for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) English paper and obtained two grades for the same paper. One was awarded by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate (SPM grading scheme). The second grade was given by University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES) (1119 grading scheme). This study aims to compare the grades awarded by these two accreditation bodies, and find out which gives a better indicator of the students' proficiency in English language in order to be effective communicators in the academic environment. Students were also given an English Language Placement Test, which tests students' competence in various areas of language especially grammar, reading comprehension, vocabulary and the structure of writing. The Placement Test was adapted from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) paper. This study revealed that the SPM grading scheme is not an accurate indicator of students' proficiency in English Language. This study indicates that there does not seem to be a distinct discrimination of students' grades based on the SPM students to perform effectively for academic purposes. Therefore, this study shows that the 1119-grading scheme offers a better indicator of students' proficiency in this language. The Placement Test revealed that although students had obtained very good grades following the SPM and the 1119 grading schemes, they showed lack of mastery in certain aspects of language that were tested in the Placement Test. The Placement Test indicated that students were still weak in vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure. Therefore, this study reveals that although students may enter the university with very good grades following the SPM grading scheme or the 1119 grading scheme, they would still need English language lessons in the areas that they are weak at as shown by the Placement Test. Thus, language departments in higher learning institutions will still need to provide lessons on areas such as grammar, vocabulary and writing proper sentence structures to enable students to perform effectively for academic purposes. Therefore, it is suggested based on this study, that a comprehensive test must be designed that would test students' proficiency in English language. The test instruments must be designed to measure all four components of language i.e. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Thus, a comprehensive test conducted by the university would be able to provide valuable information as to the level of proficiency that students who enter higher learning institutions have. This in return will enable higher learning institutions to develop language courses that would bridge the gap in language needs between secondary and tertiary education.


According to Mohd All Jafri (2002), the curriculum which is the core of educational matters is an educational planning that encompasses all knowledge, skills, values norms and cultural and religious elements chosen by the society to be passed from one generation to the next. Jafri mentioned that needs analysis or needs assessment is important in formulating a new curriculum as it helps curriculum designers identify a suitable framework regarding the elements and methods to be used.

Need is thought to be two types, "felt needs' which are individual needs and 'normative needs' which are imposed by an outside authority (Pearce 1995:408). In this sense, individuals either feel a need to learn or told to learn something. Felt needs can be two types, deficiency needs which are gaps in learning and growth needs which are development tasks generated by various life stages (Berwick 1989; Boshier 1986) It can also be viewed as a complex of processes by which people decide on behalf of an organization or community on what goals to pursue, what their priorities are and in which are resources are to be allocated into (Witkin, 1984) It can simply be 'value judgements that a target group has problems that can be solved' (Mckillip 1987:10).

In curriculum development, a need is a gap between where the learner is now and where we would wish the learner to be (Brindley 1989; Pratt 1994). Needs are assessed without making any assumption as to what the solutions will be (Kaufman 1972; Melton 1977; Triner et. al.1996; Witkin 1984). Personal and social values held by the assessors exert influence in every steps of needs assessment process (Witkin 1984; Mckillip 1987, Pratt 1994; Reviere It is usually carried out by human services planning and for educational purposes (Witkin 1984). The practice was first carried out in U.S seeking to ensure proposals for funding from communities were based on verified local needs (Berwick 1989; Kaufman 1972; Pratt 1994; Witkin 1977, 1984). It is reinforced by 'behaviourist objectives' in educational planning that insists upon specifying in measureable form all goals of importance within educational system. The emphasis on precision and accountability has a major impact on needs assessment as a form of educational technology (Berwick 1989)

Needs assessment presupposed that in planning, it is important for the foundation to be grounded on data-based needs, to meet the requirements of clients, associates and society. The data will provide justification for organizational planning and accountability. It is also vital to obtain and allocate resources (inputs) and methods (processes) deliver useful results to an organization (Kaufman and Watkins 1999; Mckillip 1987; Watkins; Witkin 1984)

Need analysis is relatively new in language teaching circles (Brown, 1995). According to Brown (1995) needs analysis is also known as needs assessment. However, some scholars differentiate needs assessment and needs analysis. For Triner (1998), needs assessment is a process to identify the needs and place them in priority order on the basis of what it costs to ignore it as compared to the value it adds to society and the organization. They also defined needs analysis as a process to determine the reasons and causes for a need so that appropriate interventions can be identified and later selected. However, others scholars like Rossett, 1987; Witkin, 1984; and Yalden, 1987 do not differentiate between needs assessment and need analysis and thought that needs assessment is part of need analysis.

Needs analysis is an 'integral part of systematic curriculum building' (Brown: 35). It is an activity involved in gathering information for developing a curriculum that will cater the learning needs of a particular group of students (Brown). Once being identified, needs can be stated in terms of goals and objectives that could help in developing tests, materials, teaching activities and evaluation strategies as well as for reevaluating the precision and accuracy of the original needs assessment.

2.2.1 The Purpose of Needs Analysis

Richard (2001) mentioned that needs analysis may be used for a number of different purposes in language teaching. Among those purposes are;

to find out what language skills a leaner needs in performing a particular role such as sales manager, tour guide or a university student.

to help in determining if an existing course adequately addresses the needs of potential students.

to determine which students from a group are most in need of training in particular language skills.

to identify a change of direction that people in a reference group feel is important.

to identify a gap between what students are able to do and what they need to be able to do.

to collect information about a particular problem learners are experiencing.

Dudley-Evans & John (1998) mentioned that today's concept of needs analysis establishes the following:

The activities and tasks that will be used for the target situation analysis

Factors that affect the way learners learn.

Learners' current skills and language use.

Learners' lacks.

Language learning needs.

Knowledge of how to communicate in the target situations.

The goal of the course.

The environmental situation in which the course will run.

2.3 Models of Need Analysis

A model of needs analysis refers to "a conceptual framework for planning and conducting needs assessment…strategies for gathering and analyzing data and setting priorities'. (Witkin, 1984; 31). Needs analysis models can be mathematical, strategic or conceptual (Mckillip 1987; Watkins et. al.. 1998; Witkin 1977, 1984). A needs analysis model that based itself on the discrepancy theory (Kaufman 1972; Berwick 1989) develops and evaluates curriculum based on the discrepancy between the actual and the optimal condition (Juriah

Amir Saleh (1993), adopted this approach to develop a need assessment model for his study, based on Kaufman (1988), Fitch & Kopp (1990) and Rossett (1987). According to Amir Saleh, all three models utilized the discrepancy approach in gathering data on the current and the desired result of a specific topic. The discrepancies are defined as problems or needs to be met. The models also utilized people stated perceptions to determine the needs. The input from the teacher as main constituent group involved in planning and implementing programmes was also considered vital to the process. His own conceptual model exploit respondents' perception to discover the discrepancy between the actual and the optimal by assessing the needs of the sample population based on hard and soft data.

Juriah (1997) suggested that there were some problems with Amir Saleh's model. The 'actual' data were based on subjective perceptions and feelings of participants while the 'optimal' were based on objective, factual official publications. Such limited use of data would make the needs assessment less informative as the 'actual' can be examined objectively and the 'optimal' be subjectively examined. It also treated needs assessment as linear thus simplifying the process and failed to provide adequate picture of the whole process. In their study, Juriah (1997) proposed an eight-stage model that includes discrepancy-based needs assessment as part of a cyclical process in curriculum development. In order to determine the 'actual' and 'optimal', they utilized the Delphi technique, interview, questionnaire and occupational analysis. A conceptual model of needs assessment has been developed and used in this study based on Kaufman (1998), Rossett (1987) and McNeil (1996). Below are the three assessment models.

Kaufman's Needs Assessment Model

According to Kaufman & Watkins (1999), the desired and actual results must be defined at three levels, societal, organizational and individual/small group. The data must be collected at all three levels so as to identify and prioritize gaps in result to determine needs. The major steps to conduct needs assessment are Kaufman & Watkins (1999):

1. Decide to identify needs in terms of result.

2. Identify planning partners.

3. a) Define an 'ideal vision' in measureable terms.

b) Obtain current data ('what is') for ideal vision measures.

4. Obtain commitment to an 'ideal vision'.

5. a) Prepare a measurable mission objective based on 'ideal vision'.

b) Obtain current results data ('what is') for mission indicators.

6. a) Prepare a management plan detailing required individuals/small group results.

b) Obtain current results data ('what is') for individual/small group indicators.

7. Identify gaps between 'what is' and required results at all three level.

8. Prioritize gaps in results based on the estimated cost to close versus the cost to ignore.

9. Select needs to be addressed.

10. Obtain approvals.

11. Revise as required or continue to needs analysis.

Rossetts's (1987) Training Needs Assessment (TNA) Model

Rossett (1987) proposed Training Needs Assessment (TNA) Model in analyzing students' needs. The TNA incorporates five stages as follows:

1. Seeking reports from the people involved of the optimal, what they think should happen and the actual conditions, what is happening. The comparison of the two will result in detailed discrepancies.

2. Grounding training needs assessment in the real world and perceptions of real people. This is done by inquiring the feelings of the workers involved on the jobs they have done.

3. Seeking causes of the problems, so as to discover sources that may contribute towards it and also to consider the view of others in the matter.

4. Seeking feeling/priorities to assess the sources of feelings regarding specific topic or subject matter and whatever it is a priority or otherwise.

5. Involving significant parties to achieve buy-in that others accept the needs as 'real'.

McNeil's Four -Step-Needs Assessment Model

McNeil's model is used in curriculum decision making which is adaptable at societal, institutional, and instructional level. His model is divided into four components as follows:

1. Formulating a set of tentative goals statements: these are conventionally sought outcome of education, collected from curriculum guides, textbooks, evaluation and basic research studies. Another source is to gather the perceptions of what learners should think, feel or be able to do so as a result of school instruction through 'concerns conferences' and 'sponsor speakups'

2. Assigning priority to goal areas: preference data are gathered by asking parents, staff, students and community members to rank the goal statements identified earlier. The combined ratings of all respondents will reveal the most pressing needs.

3. Determining the acceptability of learner performance in each of the preferred goal areas. The subjective approach involves a group of judges to provide an estimate of present learner status on each goal. The ratings produced will become indices of need. The objective approach assesses a sample of learners to compare levels on each measurement and those showing distinctive gaps indicated greater priority.

4. Translating high-priority goals into plans: the goals that are preferred or 'needs' become the basis for 'new curriculum instructional plans'.


According to Grabe and Kaplan (1996), writing is a complex composing skills. Graham and Perin (2007: 3) stated that "writing well is not just an option for young people - it is a necessity" that developing the writing skills necessary for academic success and for participation in the global economy is fast becoming too important to leave to chance.

According to McCarthy (1991), writing is different from speaking. While writing a text, the writer has time to think about what to write and how to write it. The sentences are usually well formed. McCarthy came up with a question for writing. He asked that on what norms or rules people adhere to when creating written text. The most important part in writing is coherence (Shalinaz, 2007). According to Shalinaz, coherence is produced from many different factors which combine to make every paragraph, every sentence and every phrase that will contribute meaning for the whole piece. There are two factors in coherence; paragraph unity and sentence cohesion. In paragraph unity a topic sentence is needed. Topic sentence is a single generalization that serves as the focus attention. Shalinaz added that later, the writer must control the content whereby the writer must add more specific information than the topic sentence and maintain it. She mentioned that in order to achieve sentence cohesion a writer should use elements like repetition, synonym, antonym, transition markers, exemplification and etc in their written work.

2.4.1 Models of Writing

Writing as a Product

Steele (2004) mentioned that writing as a product is a traditional approach. This model sees writing as static, as an object that can be broken down and analyzed. Anyone who thinks deeply about writing does this almost automatically and it helps us understand and deal with the complex interrelationships of a text. The danger is that we will try to advise students about every aspect of a text all at once, and less important aspects of a piece of writing may assume more importance than more critical elements. Also, the student will be overwhelmed with all the bits and pieces that must been addressed. Finally, it ignores the fact that the reader's impression of a piece of writing is of the whole text, not just selected elements. The writing will be evaluated against criteria such as content, organization, vocabulary use, grammar and mechanics. According to Gua Yan (2005), by using this model, the focus is only on the final piece of writing. Gua Yan added that it has received much criticism as it ignores the actual processes. The main focus is to produce a perfect product where it is impossible to produce a perfect piece of writing on the first draft (Shalinaz, 2007). Shalinaz added that this model requires constant error correction that might affect students' motivation and self-esteem. She also mentioned that it does not effectively prepare students for the real world or teach them to be good writers. Gua Yan, believes that this model has some credibility as the final draft requires to focus on grammar, spelling and punctuation.

 Writing as a Process

This model will focus more on the varied classroom activities which promote the development of language use (Steele, 2004). According to Hyland (2003), this model focuses on how a text is written instead of the final outcome. He mentioned that this model has a major influence on understanding the nature of writing and the way writing taught. It will encourage brainstorming, group discussion, re-writing. At the same time it will also emphasize on certain procedures such as pre-writing, drafting, evaluating and revising. Hyland pointed out that this model will help the students to identify and engage a topic where the students are required to show multiple drafts of a work. Later, after discussion and feedback from assessors, students need to revise the drafts. Smith (1982) explained that the advantage in adopting this model is that the pre-writing, writing and re-writing will be going on simultaneously and these are important in the cyclical and recursive nature of writing.

Tribble (1996) explained that by utilizing this model students first brainstorm in small groups the topic to be discussed in writing where it helps to generate ideas before starting to write. Next the students will gather an outline of the essay and individually writing its first draft. Later it will be given to other students for peer-reviewing. Finally, the students will edit the essay to eliminate the language errors.

Genre Approach

The genre approach became popular in 1980s along with the notion that student writers could benefit from studying different types of written texts. Nunan (1999: 280) explained that different genres of writing "are typified by a particular structure and by grammatical forms that reflect the communicative purpose of the genre." By investigating different genres, students can perceive the differences in structure and form and apply what they learn in their own writing. According to Badger and White (2000) this approach emphasized on the social context in which writing is produced.

Swales (1990) mentioned that, in genre-based approach writing, the students will analyze the communicative purpose of the text they have read and the means used by the writers and later they will write their own text trying to achieve similar communication purposes by using the most suitable and expressive language. Flowedew (2002) mentioned that the aim of this approach is to help the students to master the conventions of a particular form of genre that is relevant to their specific situation.

According to Cope and Kalantzis (1993), the genre approach to writing consists of three phases: (1) the target genre is modeled for the students, (2) a text is jointly constructed by the teacher and students, and (3) a text is independently constructed by each student. The approach acknowledges that writing takes place in a social situation and reflects a particular purpose, and that learning can happen consciously through imitation and analysis, which facilitates explicit instruction (Badger and White 2000).

However, the genre approach has been criticized because it undervalues the processes needed to produce a text and sees learners as largely passive (Badger and White 2000). Nevertheless supporters respond that the genre approach succeeds at showing students how different discourses require different structures. In addition, introducing authentic texts enhances student involvement and brings relevance to the writing process.


2.4.2 Writing Problems

Students appeared to have many problems when writing in English. According to Msanjila (2005), a large number of students do not differentiate between writing as an activity and writing as a skill. She added that every writing is an activity but not every writing is a skill.

A research was done by Nuraihan et al., (2005) on the level of difficulties in writing for the two universities in Malaysia namely; International Islamic University Malaysia and MARA University of Technology. It was found that referencing was the most difficult aspect in writing followed by the content of writing. Nuraihan et al., mentioned that content is related to cohesion and coherence. The easiest category was organization or structure.

Blake (2010) did a study on types of writing problems that a graduate might do in a company. The research was done based on the claim reports that were done by the graduates in the department. It was found that there were seven writing problems. Those were old-fashioned phrases, poor organization, poor phrasing, inappropriate tone, hedging, poor punctuation as well as grammar and wordiness.

Kambal (1980) did a study by analyzing errors in three compositions written by the first year Sudanese university students. It was seen that the major syntactic errors made by these students in the verb phrase and the noun phrase. Kambal (1980) reported that three main types of errors made in the verb phrase are verb formation, tense and subject-verb agreement. He mentioned that errors in tense were within five categories: tense sequence, tense substitution, tense marker, deletion and confusion of perfect tenses. The findings revealed that the third-person singular marker was used redundantly and the use of the incorrect form of the verb to be.

Mojica (2008) did an investigation of self-reported writing problems to the English Foreign Language students from the Center for Language Learning of De La Salle University, Manila. The students were required to write two or three paragraphs about their writing difficulties. It was found that means were lowest in the post-writing stage. They were concerned on grammar, vocabulary and the final output.

Chen (2002) investigated the problems of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) writing in Taiwan's university and found that the students were having eight difficulties; 1) word usage and English expressions, 2) confusion about subtle differences among similar words due to insufficient cultural knowledge, 3) limited vocabulary, 4) grammatical errors, 5) organization, 6) errors on prepositions (idioms) or slang, 7) first language influence, 8) independent thinking ranging from lexical, syntactic levels to rhetorical and cultural levels. Chen study was meant to obtain insights on how to improve writing in Taiwan's university.

Another study was done by Fadi Maher (2010) on the Arab postgraduate students of the College of Business at the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). Fadi Maher (2010) investigated on the academic writing problems that been faced by them. At the same time, he wanted to find solutions to the problems. The data on the study was collected through interviews. The findings of the study revealed that the students faced problems in relation to vocabulary register, organization of ideas, grammar, spelling and referencing. It was found that the students are weak in English because of the weak foundation, environment and methods of teaching in their countries. Weak foundation is related to the status of English, the students' motivation to learn English, and the teachers' lack of interest. Environmental reasons include the use of the mother tongue, few opportunities to practice English, and isolated culture. On the other hand, methods of teaching English included the medium of instruction, using Arabic in English classes, writing done in Arabic, teachers' low proficiency in English, and lack of writing practice in educational institutions. In order to solve their problems so that they will be able to improve their academic writing the students suggested that the teachers should employ multiple teaching techniques theyand at the same time to increase the number of writing tasks. They also suggested that teachers should correct their grammatical errors as teachers play an important role in improving their academic writing skills.

To summarize EAP is been taught once the Pre-sessional students are in CELPAD. Thus, this will help them to write piece of academic writing once they are in their respective Kulliyyahs. The question is that whether the written performance is meeting the writing needs of content courses in their Kulliyyah. At the same time, it is essential to identify the students' strength and weaknesses in writing that might hinder them to write.



This chapter presents the research procedure, study population and sampling technique, research instrument and data analysis.


The approach used in this study is both qualitative and quantitative. This is known as triangulation of data. Triangulation of data is the concept of bringing together data from different sources and or methods. Triangulation of data encourages the researcher to approach their research questions from different angle (Dornyei, 2007). Data for the study will be collected based on triangulation of methods, which are lecturers' evaluation of students' writing scripts, a survey questionnaire, and a focus group discussion.

3.1.1 Research Design

This study will involve lecturers from four main Kulliyyahs at the IIUM main campus. These Kulliyyahs are Laws, Economics and Management Sciences, Engineering and Human Sciences. Data collected in this study will be students' writing scripts based on the EPT, CELPAD Bands Score and Writing Criteria, survey questionnaire, and focus group discussion (see Appendix 1). Selected lecturers from the Kulliyahs will assess students' writing using CELPAD Bands Score and Writing Criteria. The lecturers are also required to complete a questionnaire focusing on students' writing. The respondents will be 120 lecturers from the four main Kulliyyahs at the IIUM. Once the questionnaire is completed, a focus group discussion will be held. Four lecturers representing the four different Kulliyahs will participate in the focus group discussion. The data will be analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics such as t-test and ANOVA based on the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 16.0.


This study will utilize writing scripts, CELPAD bands score and writing criteria, survey questionnaire, and focus group discussion. Selected students' writing scripts based will be assessed by one hundred and twenty (120) lecturers from four (4) main Kulliyyahs at the IIUM main campus. The Kulliyahs are Laws, Economics and Management Sciences, Engineering and Human Sciences. The type of sampling that is used in this study is the stratified random sampling by proportional allocation where the researcher has selected randomly within each strata. This kind of sampling often improves the representativeness of the sample by reducing sampling error. The researcher intends to study one hundred and twenty (120) lecturers in these four main Kulliyyahs. The table below shows the number of present lecturers in IIUM for the four main Kulliyyahs and the number of lecturers that will participate in this study. The information on the numbers of lecturers in the kulliyyah was provided by Management Services.


Number of lecturers

Quota sampling




Economics and Management Sciences






Human Sciences







This research will utilize three methodologies; writing manuscripts, questionnaire and focus group discussion.

3.3.1 Writing Test and CELPAD Bands Score and Writing Criteria

Writing in CELPAD consists of two tasks, Task 1 and Task 2. In Task 1 students are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarize or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describes an object or event. In Task 2, students are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Thus, the second task is more demanding because students are expected to produce a written argument on a given topic and to organize their answer clearly and to give some examples to support their points. They will have to write at least 250 words and as Task 2 is longer than Task 1 they are advised to spend approximately 40 minutes on this task and 20 minutes on the first task. Consequently, the researcher has chosen Task 2 in order for the kulliyyah lecturers to evaluate because Task 2 writing is a representation of the actual way of writing once the students are in their own respective kulliyyah after completing their English courses in CELPAD.

The selected lecturers from each kulliyyah will be given writing scripts from of the midterm examinations of the students and have been assessed by their respective lecturers. Initially, the researcher wanted to have the EPT writing scripts but due some circumstances the researcher could not have access to the EPT writing scripts as this might lead to a sensitive issue in the future. However, the students' midterm examination is exactly the same like the EPT writing scripts. The writing scripts are from bands 5 till 9 (see Appendix 2). Each Kulliyyah will get two writing scripts per band. The bands will be unknown to the Kulliyyah lecturers. The lecturers need to evaluate the students based on CELPAD Bands Score and Writing Criteria (see Appendix 3) that is also used to evaluate IELTS writing. However, as the CELPAD Bands Score and Writing Criteria might be difficult for the lecturers a simpler version taken from IELTS will be used to evaluate the scripts (see Appendix 4). Later, once the kulliyyah lecturers have evaluated the writing scripts, the researcher will compare those scripts with the evaluation from the CELPAD.

3.3.2 Questionnaire

The questionnaire is given to the lecturers once they have evaluated the writing scripts. There are three sections in the questionnaire (see Appendix 5). The first section is the demographic profile which consists of seven information. The second section is about the writing skills and the third section is on writing sub-skills. The third section consists of seven parts that is from A till G. This is in the form of Likert Scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree and Strongly Agree. The seven parts are; Importance of Writing Skills, Ideas and Content, Organization, Style and Vocabulary, Punctuation, Spelling and Grammar The questionnaire was developed based on evidence-based approach of checklists of writing skills in the literature, in particular, from Davies and Beaumont (2007). Pilot Study to Examine Reliability and Validity

The questionnaire was been piloted to ascertain its reliability and validity. Fourteen questionnaires were subjected to analysis. The demographic information of the participants (lecturers) for the pilot study is shown below:




n (14)















Senior Lecturer



Associate Professor








Less than 35 years old



35-40 years old



41-45 years old



46-50 years old



More than 50 years old








Non Malaysian




Level of Education

Basic Degree













Economics and Management Sciences






Architecture and Environmental Design



Information and Communication Technology



Human Sciences







Teaching Experience

1 to 5 years



5 to 10 years



More than 10 years



As the table shows two lecturers from each kulliyyah were given the questionnaire. Majority of the respondents are PhD holders and have more than 10 years of teaching experience. The reliability coefficient of each scale in the pilot study is tabulated in the table below:

Writing Sub-Skills

Number of Items

Alpha Value


Importance of Writing Skills




Ideas and Content








Style and Vocabulary


















The table above shows that the overall Cronbach Alpha Coefficient of the pilot study's instrument is high (r=0.915) indicating a high degree of internal consistency and therefore is considered a reliable instrument.

3. 3.3 Focus Group Discussion

Focus Group Discussion is a method used in a qualitative research. It is an organized discussion and structured in a flexible way between six to twelve participants (Dornyei, 2007). It usually lasts for one or two hours and provides the opportunity for all respondents to participate and give their opinions. Focus groups differ from informal group discussions in a number of aspects.  First, specific, pre-determined criteria are used for recruiting focus group participants.  Second, the topics to be discussed are decided beforehand, and the moderator uses a pre-determined list of open-ended questions arranged in a natural and logical sequence.  The moderator may even memorize the questions beforehand. Focus groups rely on discussion between participants about the topics presented, and group members may influence each other by responding to ideas and comments that arise during the discussion.  There is no pressure on the moderator, however, to have the group reach consensus. Focus groups are used to:

gain understanding of the subject being researched;

provide an accurate picture of the subject's experience of reality;

evaluate and analyse needs;

formulate interventions;

test new ideas or programmes;

improve existing programmes;

obtain a wide range of information on a given topic in order to develop more structured questionnaires;

inform policies.

According to Kumar (1987), Focus Group Discussion is different from individual interviews. The advantage of focus groups over individual interviews is that the comments of one participant can generate comments from other participants.  Ideas and opinions can be developed and explored more compared to an individual interview.  These types of discussions can be very productive.  Researchers and interviewers can benefit from the ideas generated in these discussions.  In a short amount of time, a large quantity of information can be collected and at a lesser cost than via individual interviews. Focus groups are useful for obtaining preliminary information about beliefs, ideas, opinions, attitudes and behaviors in a community.

However, Kumar mentioned that there are some weaknesses of the Focus Group Discussion. The researcher has less control over the flow of discussion in the group interview as compared to the individual interview. Also, the focus groups will not be able to tell the frequency or distribution of beliefs in a population. At the same time the results are harder to analyze than individual interviews.  Participants' comments must be interpreted within the particular social environment created by the focus group and care must be taken to avoid lifting comments out of context or out of sequence. In the mean time, the amount of response time required for any given question is increased by having discussion among participants; the number of questions that can be addressed is smaller than in individual interviews. In addition, facilitating and conducting a focus group interview requires considerable skill.  It is important to know how to manage the interview so that one or two people do not dominate, and all participants are able to share their views.

Once the discussions are over, the analysis of the information can be long and costly.  Very often, the researcher will have to listen to the tape recordings of the discussions again, transcribe the comments, code and analyze them.  All of these steps are lengthy and require specific skills.

  In this research, the Focus Group Discussion will involve seven lecturers from seven different Kulliyahs . The Focus Group Discussion will be based on six questions (see Appendix 5).


Descriptive and inferential statistics such as t-test and ANOVA will be used to analyze the data by using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 16.0.


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Appendix 1

Research Proposal Matrix

Research Questions



Data Analysis

1. What are the standards of written English of IIUM students based on the EPT?


Writing scripts bands 5 to 9



Focus Group Discussion

10 writing scripts bands 5 to 9

to 120 lecturers from four Kulliyyahs

Descriptive Analysis

2. What are the standards of written English of IIUM students according to Kulliyah lecturers?


Writing scripts bands 5 to 9



Focus Group Discussion

10 writing scripts bands 5 to 9

to 120 lecturers from four Kulliyyahs

Descriptive Analysis

3. Is there a difference between the standards of written English of IIUM students based on the EPT and IIUM lecturers' assessment?


Writing scripts bands 5 to 9



Focus Group Discussion

10 writing scripts bands 5 to 9

to 120 lecturers from four Kulliyyahs

Descriptive Analysis


4. What are the strengths of students' writing according to Kulliyah lecturers?


Writing scripts bands 5 to 9



Focus Group Discussion

10 writing scripts bands 5 to 9

to 120 lecturers from four Kulliyyahs

Descriptive Analysis



5. What are the weaknesses of students' writing according to Kulliyahlecturers?


Writing scripts bands 5 to 9



Focus Group Discussion

10 writing scripts bands 5 to 9

to 120 lecturers from four Kulliyyahs

Descriptive Analysis



Appendix 2

Writing Scripts

Band 5

Growing up with many siblings is better than being an only adult. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement.

The usual comparison between siblings and an only child is brought up again when the question of which one is better, either many siblings or an only child in family. However, growing up with many siblings is better than being an only adult because of having playmates and rivals and being more independent.

Firstly, growing up with many siblings is better than being an only adult because they have playmates and rivals. They have a siblings to play with regularly and to be able to share their thoughts and memories with. When their parents are no longer around, they have siblings to talk about anything or look up for any kind of help or support and they can take care and look up for each other also. Moreover they have rivals to compete with. They will compete with each other and try being the best child in their family. This situation is useful for them when they in school or university cause many of people they have to compete with.

Secondly, child with many siblings is more independent than an only child. This is because they try to learn many things in their life with their siblings and solve their problems by their ownself. In addition, they not relied on their parents too much. Eventhough they cannot get an attention from their parents like an only child, however they may not face an immense pressure and responsibility by their parents; for example to keep the family name going or to do well in their academics and career. Furthermore, they will not have any problem in communication and socializing.

Therefore, growing up with many siblings is better than being an only adult due to the aspects of having playmates and rivals and being more independent. However, there are advantages for being an only adult and also growing up with many siblings.

Band 5

Hollywood TV programmes and movies distort the image of Islam or Muslims. How true is this statement?

Islam is very beautiful and not rigid religion. Most of people in this world are Muslim. Sensitivity of Islam are very fragile where many people understands Islam in a wrong way. Usually other religion they are trying to understand but unfortunately they did not manage understand it deeply and start to make up stories through TV programmes or movies. Most TV programmes and movies distort the image of Islam or Muslims, it is true because the Jews and Christians are trying to manipulate Islam and they are trying to make fun of our Islam.

The Jews and Christians as they can, they like to manipulate Islam because for them, Islam itself brings the identity of terrorism. Most of them think that Islam is rigid and burden. So, by using mass media they are trying to express how Islam, which is very rude. By producing movies like 2012, they brough in some issues about the history of Prophet Luth with his ship to safe all the good people. From these we can see how they transform Islam history into a movie which in Islam it is forbidden to for us to imagine and make character of that.

In addition, the Jews specifically love to make fun of Islam. For them, it is a joke but for Muslims it is very ser