Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

The Effects of Students' Prior Knowledge of English on Their Writing of Researches

Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

The Effects of Students' Prior Knowledge of English on Their Writing of Researches

Article excerpt


This descriptive correlational study aims at examining the effects of students' prior knowledge of English on their writing of researches at the tertiary education. It investigates students' last achievements in different English courses they had learned before conducting research papers and shows their writing problems in researches. A convenient sample of forty nursing students in the Hashemite University in Jordan was asked to complete a structured questionnaire. The results revealed that students with previous knowledge in English performed better in writing researches than those who lacked this knowledge. Some students whose achievements had been low in English got the lowest grades in the research course. They made many errors in their research content exemplified in the research questions, organization, references, results and literature review. This study can be helpful in increasing students' consciousness of research writing.

Keywords: Prior knowledge, Writing a research

1. Introduction

Learning English is considered crucial for students to fulfill their purposes not only in the academic aspect but also in the job market (Chou 2011). Therefore, students need to establish and develop their English writing skills while moving from school level to tertiary level. They should be able to write well constructed sentences, paragraphs, articles and researches to help them pass some English courses at universities. Undergraduates and postgraduates in Jordanian universities should conduct a research as a request to pass in a research course. Many students fail this course because they do not have good experience or prior knowledge in writing strategies.

Having prior knowledge can help students overcome their writing errors to successfully do their researches. Recalling this knowledge will have beneficial effects on students' writing performance. Strangman and Hall (2004) stated that teachers may improve students' writing skill by activating their background knowledge. Hailikari, Katajavuori and Lindblom-Ylanne (2008) said that there is a strong relationship between prior knowledge on one hand and learning and students' achievement on the other hand. Moreover, students' prior knowledge in writing has a strong effect on the way they realize writing (Gupta, 2006). Those students had learned how to produce good writing in their schools before they entered universities.

This research paper investigates a number of researches written by nursing students at the Hashemit University in Jordan. It shows the role that students' background knowledge plays in writing up their researches and clarifies the research errors they encountered. Wong (2002) showed many problems in writing a research which should be avoided to conduct a perfect research. A researcher should convince the audience by conveying sufficient, coherent and clear information.

2. Significance of the Study

The major purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of students' prior knowledge and achievement in English on their writing of researches and to show what problems that students face while doing their researches. Therefore, this study will be helpful for students to learn and improve their writing of researches. They can get the knowledge of how to conduct a research in English. The application of this study in practice provides a guide for the effective writing and to ensure that students' quality will be improved in this aspect.

Moreover, conducting a research which explores students' way of writing a research in a second language will provide a basis for conducting other researches and to come up with the final procedures that help students in their writing. In addition, the content of this study can be a resource for curriculums taught in Jordan in order to reinforce the process of teaching writing skill.

3. Literature Review

There has been a growing number of researches which deal with writing a research in English as a second language. …

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