Factors Affecting Saudi Secondary School Students’ English Writing in Saudi Arabia: A Mixed Methods Study

Author: Majid Alharthi

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 19 Nov 2021.

Alharthi, Majid, 2018 Factors Affecting Saudi Secondary School Students’ English Writing in Saudi Arabia: A Mixed Methods Study, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify the perceived factors affecting secondary school students’ English writing in Saudi Arabia. This study is underpinned by three main research questions: First, what are students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the difficulties faced by Saudi secondary school students with writing in English? Second, what are the factors students and teachers perceive as contributing to the difficulties faced by Saudi secondary school students with writing in English? Third, what are students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the appropriate solutions to the difficulties faced by Saudi secondary school students with writing in English? A convergent parallel mixed methods design was used for data collection and analysis. Data collection was conducted through administering surveys to 600 students, running focus groups for 18 students and collecting a writing task from 600 students. Twelve teachers were also interviewed. The setting of the study was 10 secondary schools (5 male and 5 female) selected randomly in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were conducted to answer the first research question. Regression analysis and thematic analysis were used to answer the second research question. Only thematic analysis was used to answer the third research question. Also, students’ writing samples were collected and analysed using error analysis to compare the participating students’ and teachers’ perceptions with the students’ actual writing. The analysis of quantitative and qualitative data revealed that students experienced difficulties in sentence level issues, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, organisation and development of ideas in their English writing. The findings also showed that there was disagreement between the participating students’ and teachers’ perceptions and the students’ actual writing in the areas of punctuation, capitalisations, verbs, prepositions and articles. The only similarity between perceived difficulties and students’ errors in writing samples was in the use of vocabulary. The results pointed to six contributing factors to these difficulties. These include teaching practices, English writing strategies, motivation, anxiety, curriculum, and previous learning experiences. Both students and teachers suggested some strategies to reduce these difficulties in English writing, such as developing teaching methods, training teachers, improving curriculum, providing extra English classes for additional practice, and encouraging students to use the English language communicatively. An understanding of student and teacher perceptions obtained through data analysis has provided a basis for the researcher’s suggestions on how to improve the teaching of writing in the English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom in the secondary school setting. The results also serve as a basis for a discussion of the practical and theoretical implications of the study.

Keywords: EFL, Factors affecting English writing, Secondary school students, Mixed methods

Subject: English as a Second Language thesis, Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Salah Kutieleh