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Communication is an integral part of human existence and development. Engaging in it is inevitable particularly in a business setting as it is relative to promoting an idea, product, service, or organization to create value or make a sale (Khan). Successful businesses recognize the value of communication in the workplace which requires proficiency in oral and written communication skills. The latter is engineered to display information effectively on the page in order to get results, to inform, to request, to entertain, or to persuade (Holloway). In fact, 90% of all business transactions involve written communications (DePompa). Hence effective business communication demands ideas, thoughts, and concepts to be expressed and presented in an orderly, formal, and effective manner.
English as Second Language (ESL) learners perceive business writing skill as far more challenging than that of oral business communication. The former requires the use of written English based on standards set by prescriptive authorities associated with publishing houses and schools (www.wikipedia.com).
Teachers, like the researcher, are faced with the challenge of addressing students' lack of business writing skills which emanates from their confusion and difficulty in understanding the concepts governing business writing. Business writing is a highly demanding process that necessitates an organization in the development of thoughts, ideas, and accuracy in word choices. The most common problem that confronts teachers of the writing class does not lie so much on what to ask students to write about; the difficulty is more on how to motivate the students to write interesting and effective materials. Writing for its own sake is a drag, and produces boring output (Ikeguchi).
Writing only becomes an interesting activity when the teacher knows how to go about teaching it. One very important point the teacher can consider to increase motivation is to actually become a very good supporter and facilitator in the entire writing process. In this regard, the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing is can be considered.
The use of newspaper articles can be an effective intervention to implement in the writing-learning process because it can easily be adapted in Business Communication and Writing class. Newspaper articles offer situations that students are likely to encounter in real life. Through newspaper articles, they can use their experiences and prior knowledge to respond appropriately, and even creatively.
This intervention can also help students with low English proficiency to arouse interest so they can actively participate in the class activities. The use of newspaper articles motivates students to write what they want, what they need, and what they feel. Because of the increased responsibility to participate through a variety of writing exercises, students may gain confidence in using the target language in general. Students are more responsible managers of their own learning (Larsen - Freeman).
This paper intends to find out whether the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing skills of iACADEMY students is effective.
Background of the Study
Having the mindset of directly addressing the need for ready-to-hire graduates/applicants of both the information technology (IT) and business industries, Mr. Mitch Andaya, former Dean of the College of Computer Studies in DLSU and Vice-President of STI Colleges Head Office, together with the other founders, established the Information and Communications Technology Academy, now better known as iACADEMY, in March of 2002. The school acquired the first and third floors of the PhilCare Building in Ayala Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street in Makati City. At present, the school occupies the third to the fifth floor of the building that has been renamed iACADEMY.
iACADEMY offers Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) with Specialization in Software Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) with Specialization in Digital Arts, and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with Specialization in Marketing and Advertising Management, Bachelor of Science in Animation (BSA), Bachelor of Science in Game Development (BSGD), Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Arts and Design (AB MMA), and Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design (ABFD).
iACADEMY's library houses a good selection of hard-to-find and imported books, a generous number of local text books and reference materials, and half a dozen desktop computers equipped with the internet, the latest software for IT-related courses and electronic books (e-books) encompassing a variety of subjects to address the needs of its students across all degrees. It also has been on daily subscription with two of the more prominent Philippine broadsheets, the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Star. Several copies of the daily issues of these broadsheets are accessible to everyone who works for or studies in the institution. However, based upon the school librarian's personal observation, only a handful of individuals, most of whom are faculty members, take the time to read these newspapers. Students become interested with these learning materials only when the need arises, like when assignments necessitate them to read and photocopy articles in these newspapers. This study, which aims to improve the students' business writing skills, also hopes to make students become active newspaper readers after they discover the real-life learning opportunities it can offer.
The advent of computer and internet technology may have invited people to forgo handwritten letters, but definitely not letter writing itself. The existence of the computer and internet in fact has revolutionized letter writing, particularly its speed in creation, transmission, and feedback. And, with the development of electronic mailing system (e-mail), people probably write more than they actually used to. The internet may have decreased the interest of people to perform the task of hand writing but it has also increased people's preference for written communication (Bly).
Two decades or so ago, most managers dictated letters which their secretaries typed. Today, more professionals personally transcribe their letters as computer literacy, including a working knowledge on MS Word and Excel has become a basic managerial requirement (Bly). This goes to show that there is an increase in the number of individuals who are actively performing the skill of writing everyday; therefore, a call for more emphasis on teaching and learning writing skills is an imperative.
Majority of iACADEMY's student population comes from the upper-middle to the high-class members of the society. Most of them are graduates of private or exclusive high schools. However, this alone cannot be taken as a guarantee of their English proficiency, both in oral and written communication. Business Communication and Writing course falls under the umbrella of English for Specific Purpose (ESP) course; therefore, it requires a higher level of English proficiency. This is why the course is set as the third English course to be taken by students while the first two English courses are its prerequisites.
iACADEMY English faculty are alarmed with their students' poor writing performance. These students barely pass or even fail their English subjects because they exhibit below average level of competency, particularly in writing; and when asked why they performed rather poorly, they blamed their very little exposure to the language and uninteresting English subjects as the culprits.
English language educators have to admit that ensuring the students' improvement in writing performance is in their hands. Writing only becomes an interesting activity when the language educator knows how to go about teaching it and by increasing students' motivation in engaging students in the writing process. In this regard, the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing of iACADEMY students is recommended for consideration.
In the Philippines, there are very limited studies related to the topic. The researcher would therefore attempt to make a modest contribution to this area through a different approach by the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing.
Map of the Location of Information and Communications Technology Academy
The framework of this research is anchored on two approaches. First is Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) or Communicative Approach (CA) or in its earlier stage, Notional - Functional Approach; and second is the Craftsmanship approach in Business Communication.
The CLT approach is the result of the works of educators and linguists known as the Council of Europe language experts (Bryam) in the early 1970s and was further developed by David Wilkins, a prominent linguist who used the term "communicative approach" in 1974 (Wilkins). It can be further traced to the work of Chomsky in the 1960s, when he advanced the two notions of 'competence' and 'performance' as a reaction against the prevalent audio-lingual method of the time.
The central theoretical concept and goal of the CLT approach is "communicative competence," a term introduced into discussions of language use and second or foreign language learning together with communicative language teaching in the early 1970s (Savignon). Communicative competence can be defined in terms of the expression, interpretation, and negotiation of meaning and looks to both psycholinguistic and socio-cultural perspectives in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research to account for its development (Savignon).
Teaching writing in the SLA context is one of the main objectives of foreign language teaching and learning. It involves a preparatory phase known as the decision-making phase. This phase entails defining the rhetorical problem: establishing a purpose for writing, determining the audience and a topic. Secondly, the ensuing writing processes are then determined and established. These processes involve the planning, transcribing, and reviewing of the composed work (Lee). The CLT approach to writing is an effective approach because it allows students to draw from their prior knowledge, actively navigate their way through the various writing processes with the appropriate scaffolding, and finally present their understanding of the content.
One application of CLT approach is the use of authentic materials. Proponents of CLT have advocated the use of "authentic" "real-life" materials in the classroom which include language-based such as newspapers, magazines, advertisements, or graphic and visual sources in which communicative activities can be built (Jin, Application of Communicative Approach in College English Teaching). The range of exercise types and activities compatible with CLT is unlimited. Moreover, it is not assumed in this approach that the teacher is the center of all classroom activities (Al-Mutawa); therefore, the CLT is a learner-centered approach to language learning; and that the teacher's and learner's motivation and positive attitude are crucial for effective teaching and learning. Finally, as each classroom is different and is composed of different types of learners, several techniques and strategies may be used to address individual learner differences within the SLA environment (Lee).
The second theory that this study will use as framework is the Rhetorical Theory in Business Communication. This theory declares that the communication process is neither a single nor a linear process; but is rather continuous making the entire communication process clear to all parties involved.
One of the major approaches that the rhetorical theory offers to business communication is the Craftsmanship approach, which is based upon the well-crafted sales letter. It posits that the purpose of the letter is to convince, inform, and arouse its reader's interest; therefore, it should be written with the "you attitude," wherein the writer attempts to identify with the reader's needs, perspective, language, and desires. This then becomes the master strategy for planning means of stimulating the reader's faculties in various letter situations (Brooks).
The "you attitude" is given due attention and emphasis by George Burton Hotchkiss. He says that what is true of sales letters is equally true of all other kinds of business letters. He further suggests that the first thing the writer must do is to form the habit of looking at the subject of his message from the reader's viewpoint and language; and more importantly, he must get what is called the "you attitude." The ideas and concepts in a letter should be expressed from the point of view of the reader. Whatever is said must be expressed in language directed at the reader himself (Hotchkiss and Kilduff).
Aside from the "you attitude," principle, Hotchkiss also adds five concepts that should always be observed when writing a business letter - correctness, clearness, conciseness, courteousness, and character (Hotchkiss and Kilduff). These concepts are known as the, "5 C's of business writing," should be evident in any type of business letter.
The researcher has come up with a conceptual framework (see Fig. 1) based upon the theoretical framework of this study. Experimental (treatment) and control groups are included in the framework design.
The process to be used for the experimental (treatment) group will be from a pretest to the use of newspaper articles to the posttest that will provide data for the validation of the hypotheses. The control group will undergo the process of a pretest to the conventional pedagogy to the posttest that will provide data for validation of hypotheses. The teaching methodology to be applied for this group is "lecture-discussions."
Experimental Group Control Group
Use of Newspaper Articles as Intervention
Improved Business Writing Skills
Statement of the Problem
The main purpose of the study was to look into the effectiveness of using newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing performance in the Business Communication and Writing class of iACADEMY during the third trimester of school year 2011-2012.
More specifically, the study aimed to answer the following sub-problems:
Based on the 5 C's of writing, what were the writing performances of the experimental and control groups in the following:
Was there any significant difference between the pretest and the posttest writing performance of the two groups:
Was there any significant difference in the pretest writing performance of the two groups:
Was there any significant difference in the posttest writing performance of the two groups:
There is no significant difference between the pretest and the posttest writing performance of the experimental group.
There is no significant difference between the pretest and the posttest writing performance of the control group.
There is no significant difference in the pretest writing performance of the experimental and control groups.
There is no significant difference in the posttest writing performance of the experimental and control groups.
Scopes and Limitations
This study focused on determining the effects of using newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing performance of iACADEMY students. The research subjects were taken from two heterogeneous groups of students enrolled at the Information and Communications Technology Academy (iACADEMY) in Makati City during the third semester of school year 2011-2012 and who were officially enrolled in ENG103 Business Communication and Writing course.
The lecture-discussions for this study were based on the ENG103 (Business Communication and Writing) syllabus designed by the researcher three weeks prior to the start of the third trimester. The institution where he teaches allows members of the faculty to modify the course syllabus provided that such modifications are geared towards better delivery of the much needed learning of the students.
Both experimental and control group were provided with the same lectures but with differences in the pedagogical approach. The control group was given only the lecture presentations and practice drills while the experimental group had newspapers articles integrated in the class activities in addition to the usual lecture presentations and practice drills.
The newspaper articles chosen by the researcher typified the following principles of CLT approach (Jin, Application of Communicative Approach in College English Teaching): (1) Communicative Principle; (2) Task Principle; and (3) Meaningfulness Principle.
Significance of the Study
The individuals, who can benefit from this study, include the students, the language and the literature instructors, the curriculum designers, and future researchers.
Students. The implementation of the study will benefit college students since newspapers can help them develop not only their reading and speaking skills, grammar, and vocabulary, but also their writing skill. Newspaper articles are considered to be authentic learning materials that provide real-life learning that motivates students to utilize previous life experiences and prior knowledge of a given topic. It can also serve as a model for proper execution of the writing tasks.
Language Arts Instructors. The use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of the business writing skills of students gives English instructors more up-to-date teaching materials that are readily accessible to them and their students. Newspaper articles can also serve as good examples for students to improve their writing skills.
Curriculum Designers. Inevitably, academicians who focus on innovating designs of the English curriculum would need to find better if not pioneering approaches to teaching English as a second language. It is in this light that such professionals might want to consider including and utilizing newspaper articles in developing curricula that would focus on both language and literature.
Other researchers. This study can open new doors for researchers to investigate the effects of the use of newspaper articles in the improvement of the writing performance of students in the English classes, and probably in other disciplines as well, such as in science, history, and values education.
Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined operationally and conceptually in the study:
Authentic Materials. These are materials which involve language naturally occurring as communication in native-speaker contexts of use, or those selected contexts where Standard English is the norm.
Business Communication. This is sharing of information between people within an enterprise that is performed for the commercial benefit of the organization. In addition, business communication can also refer to how a company shares information to promote its product or services to potential consumers.
Business Communication Skill. This is the ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently. Business managers with good verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills help facilitate the sharing of information between people within a company for its commercial benefit.
Character. This is both an intellectual and emotional quality of the business letter that expresses the writer's unique personality in a very natural way, with due regard for his subject and his reader, making the letter a more adequate substitute for personal representative.
Clearness. This is an intellectual quality of the business letter that shows its quality of impression and is therefore always to be judged from the reader's viewpoint. The writer always knows what he means if he means anything at all. If the reader, however, does not know what a statement means, such a statement lacks this quality of clarity.
Communication. This is the two-way process by which information is being conveyed between two individuals, a sender and a receiver, through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior in order to reach mutual understanding and create a shared meaning.
Communicative Competence. It is a situational ability to set realistic and appropriate goals and to maximize their achievement by using knowledge of self, other, context, and thereby to generate adaptive communication performances.
Communicative Principle. This principle uses activities that involve real communication situations that promote learning.
Conciseness. This is an intellectual quality of the business letter that demands as little as possible of the reader's time and gives the kind of service that builds goodwill.
Control group. This is a group of students to be used as standard comparison in a control experiment.
Conventional Pedagogy. This is the standard way of providing learning to the students at iACADEMY, which incorporates PowerPoint presentations with lecture-discussions.
Correctness. This is both an intellectual and emotional quality of the business letter. It is an intellectual quality because the words, spelling, grammar, and punctuation must all be in conformity with established usage. It is also an emotional quality because incorrectness distracts and irritates, and arouses contempt because it gives a bad suggestion of ignorance, carelessness, or haste on the part of the writer.
Courteousness. This is an emotional quality of the business letter that is based upon consideration for the reader's feelings and personality by the studious avoidance of any idea that would offend. A writer should have no difficulty in securing this quality if he has a genuine recognition of the reader's equality with himself.
ENG 103. This is the course code of Business Communication and Writing, which is the third English subject needed to be taken by the students after accomplishing the prerequisite English courses Communication Arts 101 and Oral Communications with Public Speaking.
Experimental group. This is a group of students that will under study to determine the effects of using newspaper articles as intervention in business writing performance
Learner-centered Approach. This is an approach to education focusing on the needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles of the students with the teacher as a facilitator of learning, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators.
Lecture-Discussion. This is a teaching model that uses what students already know by building their own background; presents information in a systematic manner; and uses teacher questioning to involve students actively in the learning process.
Meaningfulness Principle. This involves language that is meaningful to the learner supports the learning process.
Newspaper Article. This is a written work published in print for the purpose of propagating the news, research results, academic analysis, or debate in a scheduled publication such as the broadsheets.
Posttest. This is an achievement test that will be used to identify the students' level of improvement in their writing skills upon attainment of learning in the given lecture-discussions and activities performed in class.
Pretest. This is a diagnostic test which aims to determine the students' preparedness in beginning a new course of study. The test helps in the assessment of the student needs in learning the topics to be covered in the instructional design.
Proficiency. It is mastery of a specific behavior or skill demonstrated by consistently superior performance, measured against established or popular standards.
Second Language Acquisition (SLA). This is the process by which people of a first language learn a second language in addition to their native language.
Task principle. This principle involves activities in which language is used to carry out meaningful tasks to promote learning.
Writing rubric. This is an assessment tool that attempts to communicate particular level of expected qualities in writing performance areas specifically based upon the "5 C's of Business Writing."
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES
Presented in this chapter are the foreign and local literatures and studies which are relevant to the present study because such contain written reviews or commentaries of other researchers, theorists, and professionals with regard to the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing.
As a result of some limitations, the researcher acknowledges the fact that there is a possibility that other relevant literatures are still unread, either due to time constraint or distance issues of the location of the resource materials. Despite this discrepancy, the researcher tries to exhaust, to its fullest capabilities, the internet that seems to augment and provide sufficient information to supplement the library materials available.
J.C. Richards (2006) states that the ever-growing demand for good communication skills in the English language has created a huge demand for teaching English and an enormous demand for quality language teaching materials and resources. Learners today set themselves the demanding goal of being able to master English on a high proficiency level. Even employers demand that members of the workforce exhibit good English language skills, both oral and written. The demand for an appropriate teaching methodology is therefore an imperative (J. C. Richards).
According to Carol Rzadkiewicz, communication is vital in an organization because it not only connects members within a specific department but also connects them to those from other departments, from other branches, and, in today's global economy, from around the world. Moreover, communication can make the difference between success and failure for a company.
Good communication helps ensure the efficient operation of all levels of an organization, from the lowest to the highest, whereas poor communication often results in inefficiency; and as successful business leaders know, inefficiency equals a loss of productivity and, consequently, a loss of profits (Rzadkiewicz).
Lee believes that writing must first be given a clear definition so that a philosophy or an approach to teaching writing in SLA classroom maybe utilized. Writing as communication may be defined as "how learners put thoughts down on paper and develop them into some kind of coherent text" (p.245) (Lee).
Writing skill is a difficult task for it requires prior knowledge of the language components such as morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. These components serve as broader aspects of language for the underlying foundation of language skills like vocabulary, capitalization, syllabification, punctuation, sentence structure, sequential order, and initiation and maintenance of thoughts (Brice).
Beare (2012) revealed that for many ESL learners, learning to write fluently in English is much more challenging than learning to speak fluently. Even for advanced level learners, written communications can come much more slowly in English than spoken communications because written communication is more formal; spoken communication allows for more mistakes; less reflection goes into spoken English than written English; and expectations are much higher for formal written English.
It is important when teaching written English skills - especially for business English - to be aware of the challenges that learners face when learning to function in a written English environment and considerations should be given to achieve this. One such consideration is that acquiring speech is an unconscious act, whereas learning to write takes a conscious effort on the part of the learner. Another is that written language must be filtered through a system, which can be phonemic, structural or representative, etc. The individual must not only learn to recognize the meaning of words orally, but also go through a process of transcribing these sounds. Lastly, the process of transcribing requires the learning of other rules and structures thereby cognizing a previously unconscious process (Beare).
Widdowson¼ˆ1978¼‰enumenrates two aspects in language; one is rules, such as grammar, that determine correctness, and the other is the performative ability that allows people to undertake meaningful communication. He labels the correctness as usage and the performance as use. Since the language functions systematically and communicatively, both spoken and written modes of language cannot leave out either the grammatical and communicative aspects (Widdowson).
Communicative writing can be described as the act of corresponding. Of course, as Widdowson¼ˆ1978¼‰acknowledges, the socially reciprocal setting of the written mode is different from that of the spoken mode because, unlike listeners, readers are not always available for immediate responses or, even worse, for any form of interactions whatsoever. However, communicative writing entails the presence of readers as target audience. The important point is that one can write following grammatical rules, and one can compose in order to communicate with others through writing, yet, if the one does not write with the target audience in mind, composition cannot be an act of communication.
According to Richards and Rodgers (1986), the theory of CLT approach is holistic rather than behavioristic. It starts with a theory of language as communication which implies knowledge of the grammatical system as well as performance (Richards and Rodgers). Widdowson (1984) stated that in other words, such competence includes both the usage and use of the language (Widdowson).
Richards, J. C. (2006) explains that communicative competence embraces three fundamental dimensions: first, the ability to use linguistic means to realize a variety of language functions; second, the ability to use language appropriately with due consideration of the social context in which communication takes place; and third is the ability to develop strategies to manage the negotiation of meaning. This specification of communicative competence is the hallmark of the CLT approach because it cannot be founding the theoretical framework of any other method of or approach to language teaching (J. C. Richards).
The CLT approach to teaching writing in the second language acquisition (SLA) context introduces two essential phases: first, a decision-making phase and a second phase whereby the ensuing writing processes are determined and established (Lee).
The decision-making phase entails "defining the rhetorical problem." It involves establishing a purpose for writing, determining an audience and a topic, accessing and developing students' prior knowledge of the given topic, and setting goals for the student-learner (Lee). Once the rhetorical problem has been defined, students are then ready to attack the ensuing writing processes.
Secondly, the ensuing writing processes are then determined and established. These processes involve the planning, transcribing, and reviewing of the composed work. Planning might entail generating or brainstorming possible ideas about a chosen topic. After generating the ideas, students may choose to organize their text in a specific way. Once the physical process of transcribing has been completed and rough draft formulated, the students can begin to review their work. This entails evaluating and revising, or reorganizing, their ideas until a suitable or final draft has been completed (Lee).
A personal diary, for example, is not communicative writing. It is a simply composition because of its absence from the socially reciprocal setting with a target audience. Hence, communicative writing can be defined as writing activity aiming to correspond with a target audience. The reason why the presence of the target audience is in crucial communicative activity is that it provides not only the socially reciprocal setting, but also a specific purpose, format, and style for communicating. Aristotle sees in these elements of communication the beauty of language and the distinctiveness of humans, stating ¼‚it is absurd to hold that a man ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend himself with his limbs, but not of being unable to defend himself with his speech and reason¼‚¼ˆtrans. 1954, p. 23¼‰. It is worth noting that the translator, Roberts, chooses ¼‚speech and reason¼‚ to provide an insightful understanding of the Greek term logos, which is often translated into languages¼‰. To some extent, logos moves people to communicate with one another. A technique which humans should acquire to communicate effectively at any given moment, for a certain audience, and with a certain style is, of course, rhetoric.
Savignon enumerates the following components of communicative curriculum:
Language Arts or language analysis includes program that focuses on forms of the language such as syntax, morphology and phonology.
Language for a purpose or language experience uses language for real and immediate communicative goals and pays heed to opportunities for meaningful language use, focuses on meaning as well as form.
"My Language is me," takes into account the affective as well as the cognitive aspects of language learning and seeks to involve learners psychologically as well as intellectually. Above all, this components respect learners as they use their new language for self-expression.
Theater arts provides a stage or an avenue for learners to play different roles from real-life situations that embrace certain ways of behaving and using the language.
Language use beyond the classroom prepares learners to use the second language in the world beyond the classroom. This begins with discovery of learners' interests, needs, and opportunities not only to respond to but, more important, to explore those interests and needs through second language use beyond the classroom itself.
There are very limited articles on the utilization of newspaper articles as intervention for the improvement of writing skills of students in the English classes. Nevertheless, presented in this study are those that are related to the use of newspaper articles in the classroom setting.
Creativity in teaching provides effective and enjoyable learning experience. Creativity as defined by Kalinzaygan (10), is the "collection of activities that a teacher has in her repertoire in order to achieve effectiveness". The teacher's creativity is one of the most important variables in the teaching/learning experience which is manifested in creating a desirable climate in the classroom.
Writing is supposedly the natural outlet of the students' reflections on their speaking, listening, and reading experiences. Teaching writing should not mean merely making students do grammar exercises in writing or manipulate text that have no meaning for them, but having them write what interests them, what they are knowledgeable about and most of all what they want to share with others (Cabrera 26).
Writing experiences should be meaningful and purposeful if each student is to succeed in the writing arena. Thus, teachers need to stimulate and motivate students to write (Ediger15).
Rhoades and Rhoades (1985) provide ways in which teachers can use newspapers to teach comprehension and critical thinking and to help students develop sensitivity and awareness of the self, the community, the nation, and the world (Rhoades and Rhoades).
Hamrick (1981) designed a 60-page activity booklet that is organized by sections of the newspaper and can be adapted to most grade levels. It can be used to teach basic skills in a variety of subject areas, including language arts, reading, mathematics, social studies, and science. The activity sheets allow students to use the different newspaper sections to locate, categorize, and sequence details, and to distinguish fact from opinion. The activity sheet also helps the students to locate main ideas, to form sentences, to find facts, to practice critical thinking skills, to solve math problems, to write creatively, and to comprehend better (Hamrick).
Yeaton and Braeckel (1986) created a series of model lessons for grades 4-6 that demonstrate the use of the newspaper to study the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. First, the lessons contain step-by-step procedures and sample questions to show how each specific part of the news-paper can be used in a lesson. Then, sample lessons take children on a journey back to the historical time when the Constitution was written. Numerous interesting, practical activities are suggested within the lesson plans (Yeaton and Braeckel)
Another specialized newspaper-based course was developed by Diamond and Riekes (1981) for students in grades 10-12. This course employs the newspaper as a foundation for law-related courses. Model lessons are delineated for each part of the newspaper, as well as in five law-related areas: criminal law, consumer law, family law, housing law, and individual rights law. A sample lesson in the Diamond and Riekes course deals with developing critical thinking skills by resolving problems described in newspaper columns--a "Dear Abby" column, in one case. After each student has read the column in question, the teacher divides the class into groups, and each group discusses the problem and determines some resolution following a decision-making procedure previously outlined in the class. After each group presents the reasons for its decision to the entire class, a general discussion is held on the problem and a variety of possible solutions are considered (Diamond and Riekes).
Schwartz and Bromberg (1984) have devised a newspaper course for older students that helps prepare them for effective citizenship in an interdependent world, providing instruction in global concepts such as economic interdependence, the migrations of people, environmental independence, cultural diffusion, the communication revolution, and cultural diversity. The emphasis of the course is on reading, writing, and reasoning ability; and it requires students to classify and organize materials, to identify cause-and-effect, and to make judgments using sound reasoning (Schwartz and Bromberg).
A course intended for intermediate and junior high school students presents 11 lessons using newspaper materials to teach consumer education. The practical classroom activities help students 1) define consumer education terms and distinguish between wants and needs; 2) explain why laws are necessary for consumer and seller protection and understand the concept of consumer responsibility; 3) define consumer-related terms; 4) create a classroom newsletter to reflect consumer knowledge; 5) recognize and explain different advertising appeals; and 6) explain the intent of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the work of the Federal Trade Commission (Greenup).
A series of instructional ideas developed by Dianna (1983) also focus on teaching intermediate and junior high students to respond critically to advertising. An outline defines 16 advertising techniques (including eye appeal, youth appeal, snob appeal, celebrity endorsement, and expert endorsement); and a list of activities which help students realize the effects of advertising, create their own ads, and evaluate television and radio commercials as well as those in print (Dianna).
Synthesis of the Related Literature and Studies
This chapter discusses the research method, population and sampling techniques, description of respondents, research instrument, data gathering procedures, and statistical treatment of data.
Research Method Used
This study utilized the quasi-experimental method of research, particularly the nonequivalent group design (NEGD). This design requires a pretest and posttest for a treated and comparison group except that the groups are not created through random assignment (Trochim). This design was used because it is not feasible for the researcher to use random assignment.
The purpose of using the quasi-experimental method is to find out the influence of one or more factors upon a condition, group, or situation, and that the purpose of which is to discover "what will be," (Calderon and Gonzales, 83). The word "quasi" means as if or almost, therefore, a quasi-experiment is almost a true experiment. Since the study is concerned with the effectiveness of the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the business writing performance of iACADEMY students, the experimental method is the best choice.
Population, Sample Size, and Sampling Technique
The subjects for this study were two Business Communication and Writing (ENG 103) classes from Information and Communications Technology Academy (iACADEMY) in the city of Makati, third trimester of SY 2011-2012. All students in these classes had passed the prerequisite courses English Communication Arts (ENG 101) and Speech & Public Speaking (ENG102) prior to their being accepted to Business Communication and Writing (ENG 103). One of the classes had 33 students; the other class had only 14 students.
This study had two group categories: the control group and the experimental group. Both groups were given a pretest and a posttest. All students in a class of 13 were included in the study; however, for the class with 33 students, only 13 of them were included in the experiment so that the number of subjects from both classes was equal. The pretest score of the 33 students were compared with the pretest scores of the other class to determine who among the 33 would be part of the study. This of course did not mean that those students who were not included in the study would also be excluded in the class lecture-discussions. The students involved in this study were within the age range of 16 - 25 years old.
The pretest and posttest were evaluated using an adapted set of criteria, a modified rubric (see Appendix 1: Business Writing Rubric).
Description of Respondents
The researcher sought the permission of the College Dean for the implementation of the quasi-experiment (see Appendix 2: Request Letter.)
The subjects of this study were the students of iACADEMY who were enrolled in Business Communication and Writing classes being handled by the researcher. The classes BA-11 and FD-11 were ideal research subjects since both classes had the same time schedule in the morning but on different class days. Class BA-11 whose schedule was from nine o'clock in the morning to noon time (9:00am -1 2:00nn) Tuesday, formed the experimental group, while the class FD-11 whose schedule was from nine o'clock in the morning to noon (9:00am -1 2:00nn) Wednesday, composed the control group.
The students enrolled in the Business Communication and Writing course were used as subjects because they already had passed the prerequisite courses, namely English Communication Arts (ENG 101) and Speech & Public Speaking (ENG102). More importantly, this indicates that the students already had at the very least the same background in the foundation of language skills, particularly, reading and writing.
Students of iACADEMY, given their age range, are fascinated by overwhelming technological advancements, since almost all of them can afford to own the latest gadgets and computer accessories. They have therefore been deprived of the opportunity to enjoy authentic learning materials, particularly the newspapers. The study, apart from intending to increase their level of writing performance, would also attempt to reintroduce to them the pleasure of reading the newspaper for learning and leisure purposes.
Assessment of Student Performance
Prior to the implementation of the study, the students from both BA-11 and FD -11 classes were assessed through their writing of a letter of application for internship. This assessment served as the pretest. The scores of BA-11 students were compared to the scores of FD-1 so that an identical number of subjects was established. The researcher/instructor provided lecture-discussions and facilitated classroom activities.
The students were asked to write a letter of appreciation served as the posttest. Both the pretest and posttest were checked by the researcher and scored using a modified business writing rubric. The results were then submitted to the statistician for analysis.
It was compulsory for all students included in the study to actively participate in all the writing activities. They were advised that all written works would be assessed and graded. Students who missed an activity due to attendance concerns were given a failing grade for the activity missed.
This is a quasi-experimental research that utilized two Business Communication and Writing classes of the researcher/instructor. This study explored the possibility of utilizing newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of the business writing performance of iACADEMY students. The researcher had to go through different procedures. Each procedure was categorized whether it belongs to the experimental group or the control group, or both experimental and control groups.
The following procedures were used for the experimental group:
Collection of Newspaper Articles
The researcher collected newspaper articles from the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Star. These newspaper articles were from the business, career guides, and classified ads sections of the two broadsheets which were regularly subscribed by the school.
The newspaper articles contained topics that are relevant to the study of Business English, such as: (1) preparations for job application; (2) using of technology for business purposes; (3) request for performance and salary appraisal; (4) entrepreneurship issues; (5) work-related concerns; and (6) issues related to resignation from one's job.
Identification and Selection of Newspaper Articles
The following criteria were used by the researcher in choosing the newspaper articles: (1) it met the objective of the lecture-discussions because it contained information relevant to the subject topics to be discussed; (2) it provided the learners with sources relevant to the business English students' needs; (3) it depicted real-life situations that tend to stimulate and motivate students to produce written works; (4) it used vocabulary, structures, tone, and functions in the business setting; (5) it brought the students into direct contact with a reality level of Business English; (6) it was drawn from broadsheets which were printed not more than five years ago and still presents up-to-date information; and (7) such authentic materials had been consistent in using English as its language of choice for publication.
The students in the experimental group were assessed of their writing skill and competency. They were asked to write a letter of application for internship. They were instructed to recall any prior learning about letter writing, particularly about writing a letter of application, and then use this prior knowledge to produce the requirement. The assessment was restricted to a thirty-minute time limit to write a letter with at least 150 to 200 words. This served as their pretest.
Prior to the lecture-discussion of the first subject matter which is Effective Letter Writing, students were asked to recall any prior learning about writing a business letter. They will be asked questions such as: What types of business letter do you know? Why do you need to write a business letter? What difficulties can you encounter when writing a business letter? Have you ever written a business letter of any type? Did you have any difficulty writing your business letter? Why did you encounter such difficulties? What were the contents of your business letter? Did your letter receive any feedback from its recipient? These questions were presented to the students to motivate them to actively participate in the lecture-discussion and class activities.
For the second subject matter, Writing Memos and Electronic Mails, the researcher/instructor presented, via PowerPoint, sample memos sent via email. After showing the memos, the researcher asked questions to motivate the students like: What is your definition of a memo? Why do we write memos? Based upon your observation of the memos shown, what do you think are the parts of a memo? Why were the memos sent via electronic mail?
Writing Business Proposals and Reports is the last lesson for this study. Prior to delivering the lecture-discussion for this subject matter, students were given a piece of paper and will be instructed to write their ultimate dream business. They were then asked of the following motivational questions such as: What is your ultimate dream business? How do you think can you achieve this dream business? Who will be your clients? How will you convince prospective partners to join your business? What will you do to invite clients to try the product or service of your business?
Presentation of Lecture-Discussion
The researcher/instructor delivered lecture-discussions on the following subject matter: (1) Effective Letter Writing; (2) Writing Memos and Electronic Mails; and (3) Writing Business Proposals and Reports. All lecture-discussions were divided into two parts: the first part was theoretical and the second part was the application of learning through examples. It was during the second part of the lecture-discussion that the researcher/instructor showed the students a newspaper article related to the subject matter being discussed. Students were given photocopies and were asked to read the newspaper article. Students had at least 15 to 20 minutes to read the newspaper article distributed for discussion. After the students were done reading, the researcher/instructor facilitated the activity of relating and integrating the subject matter, the business letter samples, and the newspaper article.
After the lecture-discussion, the researcher/instructor instructed the students to write business letters based upon the subject matters discussed.
For the first subject matter Effective Letter Writing, students were tasked to get a partner and then to write a letter of application for internship addressed to the partner. After writing, the letter of application for internship was given to the partner who in turn wrote a response letter of: (a) invitation for an initial interview, if the letter of application appealed the receiving partner; or (b) gratitude for interest to apply, if the letter of application did not appeal to the receiving partner.
For the second subject matter, Writing Memos and Electronic Mails, the class was divided into two groups. All members were told to write a requisition memo for performance and salary appraisal from one of the members of the other group. No one was allowed to reveal his/her recipient. After writing the memo, each student gave the memo to the chosen recipient. The student with the most number of memo received had to write a letter of response to one of the senders.
For the last subject matter, Writing Business Proposals and Reports, students were instructed to think of a product, service, or business that is related to his/her degree. The challenge was to make a business proposal letter addresses to the researcher/instructor with due consideration to his profession.
After delivering all the lecture-presentations, students in the experimental group were again assessed of their writing skill and competency. They were instructed to write a letter of appreciation for a successful internship addressed to their partner during the first activity. This revealed whether there was improvement in the writing performance of iACADEMY students after using newspaper articles as intervention. The assessment was restricted to a thirty-minute time limit to write a letter with at least 150 to 200 words. This served as their posttest.
The following procedures were used for the experimental group:
The students in the control group were assessed of their writing skill and competency. They were asked to write a letter of application for internship. They were told to recall any prior learning about letter writing, particularly about writing a letter of application, and then use this prior knowledge to produce the requirement. The assessment was restricted to thirty-minute time limit to write a letter with at least 150 to 200 words. This served as their pretest.
Prior to the lecture-discussion of the first subject matter which is Effective Letter Writing, students of the control group, like that of the experimental group, were also instructed to recall any prior learning about writing a business letter and were asked motivational questions like: What types of business letter do you know? Why do you need to write a business letter? What difficulties do you encounter when writing a business letter? Have you ever written a business letter of any type? Did you have any difficulty writing your business letter? Why did you encounter such difficulties? What were the contents of your business letter? Did your letter receive any feedback from its recipient?
For the second subject matter, Writing Memos and Electronic Mails, the researcher/instructor had a PowerPoint presentation of sample memos sent via email. After showing the memos, the researcher asked questions to motivate the students like: What is your definition of a memo? Why do we write memos? Based upon your observation of the memos shown, what do you think are the parts of a memo? Why were the memos sent via electronic mail?
For the last subject matter, Writing Business Proposals and Reports, students were each given a piece of paper on which to write their ultimate dream business. They will then be asked the following motivational questions: What is your ultimate dream business? How can you achieve this dream business? Who will be your clients? How will you convince prospective partners to join your business? What will you do to invite clients to try the product or service of your business?
Presentation of Lecture-Discussion
The researcher/instructor delivered lecture-discussions on the following subject matter: (1) Effective Letter Writing; (2) Writing Memos and Electronic Mails; and (3) Writing Business Proposals and Reports. Since the students belonged to the control group, conventional pedagogy was applied in class by the researcher/instructor. The presentation of lecture-discussions did not use newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of writing performance of the students.
After the lecture-discussion, the researcher/instructor instructed the students to write business letters based upon the subject matters discussed.
For the first subject matter Effective Letter Writing, students were made to write a letter of application for internship.
For the second subject matter, Writing Memos and Electronic Mails, students were told to write a requisition memo for performance and salary appraisal.
For the last subject matter, Writing Business Proposals and Reports, students wrote a business proposal letter.
Again, the student of the control groups will be assessed of their writing skill and competency. After delivering all the lecture-presentations, students will write a letter of appreciation for a successful internship. This revealed whether there was improvement in the writing performance of iACADEMY students through the institution's conventional pedagogy. The assessment was restricted to a thirty-minute time limit to write a letter with at least 150 to 200 words. This served as their posttest. This also revealed whether there was significant difference between the posttests of the experimental and control groups.
Both Experimental and Control Groups
The experimental and control groups were given similar pretest, pre-lecture motivational activities, lecture-discussions, and posttest.
After checking the pretest and posttest of both groups, they were graded using the modified business writing rubric. The writing rubric was modified in order to show adherence with the 5 C's of Business Writing.
Once all test scores were ready, these were collected and prepared for validation through statistical analysis and interpretation.
Statistical Treatment of Data
Upon the completion of the assessment exercises, the written outputs of all the students were checked and recorded for statistical analysis. The raw data will be interpreted using the mean and standard deviation. The Software Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used in the research to determine the standard error of difference of the pretests and posttests. The independent sample t-test will be utilized to compare the two means that will be repeated measures of the same participant.