In today's world, there are lots of methods in language teaching in general and teaching writing in particular. Using two different tools in writing essays and conducting a study to compare the effectiveness of these two tools namely blog and pen-and-paper was the basis of this study. This study used a quantitative true experimental design aimed at comparing the students' writing performance scores by using pen-and-paper essay writing and blogging among Iranian graduate students of University Putra Malaysia (UPM). The result of this study showed that the tools by themselves could not effect on the quality of writing essays and improvement in the students' writing performance. However, using technology and in this study, Internet can motivate the EFL learners to write more eagerly since they may like innovation in learning in contrast with traditional old methods of learning writing and practicing it. Yet it does not necessarily improve their writing performance only because of using computer and Internet. The Iranian graduate students of UPM found blog more interesting and motivating tool for writing, but it was not as easy using as pen-and-paper for them with which everyone is familiar. This research could find answers to the research questions posed at the beginning of the study and investigated the hypotheses presented then.
Keywords: essay writing, Iranian graduate students, writing performance, blogging, pen-and-paper
1. Background of Study
English language is a foreign language in Iran. Therefore, most often it is being studied in formal educational settings such as schools, universities and language institutes. According to Khajavi and Abbasian (2011), Iranians have different reasons to learn English such as travelling to foreign countries, becoming English teachers or tour guides, trading with other countries, or passing Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams in order to enter overseas universities. However, the most significant role of English in Iran is in academic settings particularly in graduate program.Similarly, Farhady (2010) states that English is mostly used as a means of educational development in Iran.
In accordance with Iran's Secretariat of the Higher Council of Education (2006), English is being taught from the first year of secondary school (year 6) until the last year of high school (year 12) for seven years. However, it is being instructed at universities as general and specialized English courses. In Iran universities as Farhady (2010) explained, a three-unit credit of general English is required for all fields of study. Besides, another four compulsory units of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) should be fulfilled by the students. Since the premier purpose of teaching English at Iranian universities is to make the students able to understand and read the written course materials in English, the university instructors rely mainly on translated-oriented method in which the language of instruction is Persian (Khajavi and Gordani, 2008; Noora, 2008). On the other hand, the medium of instruction in the English major areas namely English language translation, English language and literature, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is English. Moreover, the graduate students who aim to get a Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) in Iran are required to have a Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Test System (IELTS) certificate.
As reported by Iran Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (2012), there are approximately 50,000 Iranian students currently studying abroad. They are widespread in the American, Canadian, European, Australian and Asian universities. Following this, in the last few years, there has been a rapid growth of the Iranian students in Malaysian universities (Pourshahian, Gholami, Vaseghi&RezvaniKalajahi, 2012). According to the Iran embassy website (2012), there are currently around 15,000 Iranian students studying in different Malaysian public and private universities such as University Malaya (UM), University Technology Malaysia (UTM), University Putra Malaysia (UPM), Multi Media University (MMU) and Limkokwing University. …