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The Factors Accounting for the Egyptian EFL University Students’ Negative Writing Affect Muhammad Abdel Latif 1
Abstract This study attempts to identify the factors that account for the Egyptian English majors’ negative writing affect, i.e. their high English writing apprehension and low English writing self-efficacy. The subjects were administered two scales measuring their writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy, then those students with scores falling into the extremes of the two scales were interviewed about their writing experience and background. To supplement the qualitative data obtained from the interviews, the subjects’ scores on three linguistic tests used for measuring their English grammar and vocabulary knowledge were compared to their scores on the two scales. Analysing both types of data showed that there are six causes of the subjects’ high English writing apprehension and four causes of their low English writing self-efficacy. Based on the results reached, the study presents some recommendations for writing instruction and suggestions for further research.
Affective factors cannot be ignored when talking about writing because they may be a source of writing difficulties. Writers’ affect falls within some other terms such as ‘writers’ perceptions and beliefs’ and ‘writers’ personal knowledge’. Daly (1985: 65-73) classifies writers’ perceptions and beliefs into two main categories: the first category includes the ‘dispositional perceptions and beliefs’ which ‘endure in a relatively consistent fashion over time and across situations’ such as beliefs held about the writing process and about one’s writing, and affective dispositions and attitudes towards writing; and the second category includes the ‘situational perceptions and feelings’ which are temporary and closely tied to a particular situation or task such as perceptions of the writing contexts and responses to the writing situations. The present study has explored the factors that shape two affective constructs falling into the first category: writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy. Results of this study may help writing teachers become aware of these factors and address
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them in their classrooms so as to enable their students to avoid their potential detrimental effects.
2 Background of the Problem2
Writing apprehension may be the most frequently investigated aspect of writers’ affect. This construct was first introduced by Daly and Miller (1975) and since that time it has been the focus of considerable research particularly in L1 writing. Writing apprehension mirrors the individual’s general tendency to avoid or approach writing situations (Daly & Shamo, 1978: 120). Though the term ‘writing apprehension’ has been used interchangeably in the literature with ‘writing anxiety’, it may be argued that the two terms are different. While writing apprehension is a dispositional aspect of writers’ affect, writing anxiety seems to be a situational one. Thus, writing anxiety can be used to refer to the feelings of uneasiness writers experience while performing the task. In light of this, the present study views writing apprehension as the individual’s general predisposition that determines how s/he responds to the situation in or through which s/he may be involved in performing writing tasks or in which her/his writing may be evaluated.
One of the other motivational constructs of writing is self-efficacy which has received less and later attention than writing apprehension. According to Bandura (1997), the beliefs the individual holds about her/his learning capabilities can determine what s/he does with the knowledge and skills s/he has. Self-efficacy beliefs influence one’s behaviour by determining her/his achievement goals, how much effort s/he will devote to performing the task, the perseverance s/he exerts when facing difficulties and challenges, and her/his thought patterns and emotional responses (Pajeres & Johnson, 1994: 314). Writing selfefficacy has been viewed as the individual’s evaluation of her/his writing skills (McCarthy et al., 1985), or the writer’s confidence in her/his ‘ability to successfully perform writing tasks at a given level’ (Shell et al., 1989: 91). In light of these definitions and the
One of the anonymous reviewers suggested shortening this section; however the author felt that this would be disadvantageous to the article.
These findings are also supported by the earlier observation that Richmond and Dickson-Markman (1985: 295) made about the possibility of using the WAT as a measure of writing self-confidence rather than writing apprehension. Previous studies on writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy have shown that they correlate with some aspects of the L1 and L2/FL writing process and product. and by the call made by Gungle and Taylor (1989).e. vocabulary and language use) 59 . i. English writing self-efficacy. It has also been argued that low selfefficacy hinders writers’ effective implementation of the metacognitive strategies (Cava. 1999). 1981) and are less concerned with planning the overall structure of their essays (Selfe. increasing research has been conducted on writers’ affect. for developing a more accurate measure of writing apprehension. Though the Daly-Miller Writing Apprehension Test (WAT) was the first systematic attempt to assess writers’ affect and it has been the most well-known and frequently used instrument for measuring writing apprehension. 1988) and the language-related dimensions (i. the researcher defines the writing self-efficacy as the individual’s evaluation of her/his writing ability as a whole and of her/his specific writing skills. For example.e. (12 items). At the process level. It is worth mentioning that the vast majority of the studies referred to below have used the WAT or the SLWAT to measure writing apprehension. who used the SLWAT. research has revealed that high apprehensive writers pause more while composing (Hayes. Since that time. some questions have been raised regarding its construct validity.’s (1999) principal component analysis of an L2 version of the WAT (SLWAT) has shown that it has three main components: low self-confidence in English writing . Cheng et al. 1984) than the low apprehensive ones. At the product level. Interest in writers’ affect began in the mid-1970s when Daly and Miller (1975) developed their well-known scale for measuring writing apprehension.instrument used in the study to measure the construct. research has revealed that writing apprehension correlates negatively with some aspects of students’ written texts such as the total number of t-units (Hadaway. Thus. it may be concluded that the writing self-efficacy construct was included in all of those studies due to their use of either instrument. and writing evaluation apprehension (6 items). aversiveness to writing in English (7 items).
Rankin-Brown. 1988. language proficiency self-esteem (Hassan. Research on L1 Writing apprehension has shown that it may be developed and maintained as a result of lack of appropriate writing skills. research has reported consistent findings about the positive relationship of writing self-efficacy with the quality of students’ texts (Pajares.e. 1995). 2006) reported using the interview to identify the factors shaping writing affect. it is important to explore the factors that account for higher levels of writing apprehension and lower levels of writing-self efficacy so as to help students avoid their potential negative effects. perceived writing self-efficacy (Cheng. L1 writing research has also indicated that the writer develops judgements of his writing ability and skills depending on some factors such as prior assessment and past writing success (Washholz & Etheridge. 1983: 329) and history of poor writing performance (Wittman.(Duad et al. which have supported some of these findings. other studies reported involving subjects of the same L1. the researcher has observed the following: a) all the studies have used the WAT or SLWAT for measuring the writing apprehension of their subjects. the nature of writing assignments (Daly. These few studies have found that L2/FL writing apprehension correlates with foreign language classroom anxiety (Cheng. 1992). 2002. 2002. and L1 writing apprehension (Hadaway.g. and with writing achievement and competence (Cheng. Regarding the methodology and the context of the above few L2/FL studies. Hadaway. free reading activities. 1999). Rankin-Brown. i. 1988).. given that the language proficiency variable was controlled in some of these studies. writers’ poor self-confidence level.e scales or questionnaire. the L1s of those homogenous samples which participated in these 60 . writing expertise (Cornwell & McKay. 1979). the students who read more had less writing apprehension (Lee. 2006) reported involving subjects of varied L1 backgrounds. 2001). 1988. 2005). 2002). 2006). 2005). RankinBrown. Accordingly. b) while two of these studies (Hadaway. L2/FL writing studies. Likewise. negative feedback received from the others (Daly & Wilson. 2003: 144). i. These results suggest that the two constructs seem to exert influence on students’ writing performance. c) while some studies (e. 2001). Hassan. 2002) and speaking anxiety (Cheng. the other studies depended mainly on the closed self-reported instruments. reported some other different factors.
d) English was the target L2/FL in all these studies. This study has attempted to fill in this gap by investigating the target issue in the Egyptian EFL context. The total number of the subjects who took part in the study was 67 students. and e) Hassan’s (2001) study is the only one that was conducted in the Egyptian EFL context. in turn. They can be described as prospective teachers or student teachers who were receiving pre-service English language teacher education at the time of conducting the study.1. They were all Egyptian male students whose native language is Arabic. Japanese and Malay.studies were Arabic. 61 . They have received English writing instruction at the University in the lecture mode. and by using separate scales for measuring English writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy.2. a more accurate measure of writing apprehension. i. congruent with Gungle and Taylor’s (1989) call. Al-Azhar University in Egypt. they take an English essay writing module in either the autumn or winter term. the present study has addressed the following question: what are the factors that account for the Egyptian EFL university students’ negative English writing affect.1 Participants of the Study The participants in this study were from the fourth year English Department students at the Faculty of Education. cause their high English writing apprehension and low English writing self-efficacy levels? Answering this question may help writing teachers become aware of these factors and. 3 The Study 3. all the 67 students completed the instruments referred to in 3. by using both quantitative and qualitative data. The findings reported by these studies need to be documented by further research that could make use of both quantitative and qualitative data in identifying the factors accounting for L2/FL writers’ affect and that could use. address them so as to enhance their student writers’ positive affect. In each academic year. Accordingly.e. In addition to this. Chinese. there is a need for investigating these factors in specific L2/FL contexts such as that of the Arabic EFL learners’ one.
1. all of which are consistent with the adopted definition of writing apprehension. and Graham et al. Eight items of part two of the scale were adopted from Shell et al.852. 4. Because items 3. 3. Part one of the scale has 8 items and measures students’ confidence in and judgement of their general writing ability.1 The English Writing Apprehension Scale (EWAS) A 12-item scale was used for measuring the subjects’ writing apprehension. 5. and composition skills). A five-point Likert-type scale.2 The English Writing Self-Efficacy Scale (EWSS) A two-part 18-item scale was used for measuring the subjects’ English writing self-efficacy. grammar. (2) agree.4 while the students who were chosen for the interview (3.3) were 31 in number. (4) disagree.2 but only 57 of them completed all the instruments referred to in 3. usage. Part two of the scale has 10 items that measure the students’ confidence in having specific writing skills (mechanical.’s (1993) Writing SelfEfficacy Scale. The final administration of the EWAS showed that it had an Alpha Cronbach reliability coefficient of 0.2 Instruments of the Study The study used the following instruments: 3.2. 6 and 8 are negatively worded. were selected and adapted from three different measures: Gungle and Taylor’s (1989) ESL version of the Daly-Miller WAT. they were reverse scored.2.’s (1989) Writing Self-efficacy Scale (writing component skill subscale).2. was adopted for the synthesized scale. (3) uncertain. Cheng’s (2004) Second Language Writing Anxiety Inventory (SLWAI) (avoidance behaviour subscale) and Graham et al. Scores on the scale may range from 12 (the minimal score) to 60 (the maximal score). (1) strongly agree.’s (1993) Attitudes Toward Writing Scale. or (5) strongly disagree.3. 3.2. The items of this part were taken from Gungle and Taylor’s (1989) ESL version of the Daly-Miller WAT.2.2.2 and 3.2. The items of this scale. 3. one item was taken from Pajares and Valiante’s 62 .
2. The final administration of the EWSS showed that its two parts as a whole had an Alpha Cronbach reliability coefficient of 0. or (5) strongly disagree. 3. the degree of their success in English writing.2. (4) disagree. and another item was developed by the researcher.868. where they was administered to some Arab students who were attending pre-sessional programmes. 3. (2) agree. and 7 in part one of the scale are negatively worded. while a 1-5 (1 = very unconfident. and Laufer and Nation’s (1999) Productive Vocabulary Levels Test (Version C) and Schmitt’s (2001) Receptive Vocabulary Levels Test (Version 2) to measure their English vocabulary knowledge.(1999) Writing Skills Self-efficacy Scale. Because items 1. 4. 63 . the feedback obtained from the others on their English writing.4 The Linguistic Tests The study also used three linguistic tests to examine any correlation between the subjects’ linguistic knowledge and their English writing affect. The tests used were Allan’s (1992) Oxford Placement Test 2 (the Grammar Test) to measure the subjects’ English grammar knowledge. Scores on the scale may range from 18 (the minimal score) to 90 (the maximal score). The validity of both of the EWAS and the EWSS was verified by the researcher’s supervisor and the scales were piloted at the University of Essex and the Colchester English Study Centre.3 A Semi-Structured Interview A 12-question semi-structured interview was used to get information about the subjects’ writing affect and the factors that may influence it. (1) strongly agree. (3) uncertain. The main questions of the interview did not ask the subjects directly about the causes of having positive or negative writing affect but they focused on the previous English writing instruction the subjects have received. These questions were developed in light of the purpose of the study and based on reviewing the previous literature. their attitude towards writing and their perceptions of their English writing skills. was used in part one. UK. A five-point Likert-type scale. 5 = very confident) scale was adopted for the second part. 3. they were reverse scored.
Responses of the 66 subjects to the two scales were marked and analysed. The interviews were conducted in Arabic but two of the 3 The writing background interview was the third and last part of a whole session in which the subjects thought aloud while writing an argumentative essay in English and then were interviewed about their writing 64 . Accordingly.480. The subjects were allowed to take any time completing the two scales. In the first session. 28 had a score that fell a standard deviation or near it (i. 2001).86. that of the 31 subjects interviewed.e. Then. they were given the Oxford Placement Test (the Grammar Test) and the Productive Vocabulary Levels Test and they were allowed an hour as a maximal time to complete each test. and b) subjects with PWA: those whose scores on the EWAS were equal or less 28 than and on the EWSS were equal or greater than 61.3.3 Procedures of Collecting and Analyzing the Data Administering the instruments of the study took place in March and April. all of them finished completing the scales in less than 30 minutes. It is worth mentioning. Adopting a cutting score formula used in a previous study (Hassan. 2006. two groups were identified: a) subjects with NWA: those whose scores on the EWAS were equal or greater than 37 and on the EWSS were equal or less than 49. The 57 subjects who attended the second session were given the Receptive Vocabulary Levels Test and they were allowed an hour to complete it.32 and a standard deviation of 8. however. less than one point) below and above the mean of the EWAS. 23 subjects had score that fell a standard deviation or near it below and above the mean of the EWSS. and that the EWSS had a mean of 55. The results showed that the EWAS had a mean of 32. 67 subjects were given the EWAS and the EWSS to complete. and 20 subjects had a score that fell a standard deviation or near it below and above the means of the two scales. the subjects with negative writing affect (NWA) and positive writing affect (PWA) were identified as those whose scores on the two scales fell a half standard deviation below and above the mean. The two scales were given to the subjects in English and the researcher was there for any questions raised by the subjects about the meaning of any items.1 and a standard deviation of 9. The two scales and three linguistic tests were administered to the subjects in two collective sessions. Sixteen subjects with NWA and 15 ones with PWA were interviewed individually for 15-20 minutes about their writing experience and background 3 .
and on analyzing the interview protocols.1 Lack of Linguistic Knowledge The Pearson’s product moment correlation was used to determine any correlation between the scores of the subjects on the two scales used for measuring their English writing apprehension and self-efficacy and their scores on the three linguistic tests used for measuring their grammar and vocabulary knowledge. Their interviews were then transcribed and analyzed. process. In addition. these were: a) factors accounting for both of high English writing apprehension and low English writing self-efficacy. to determine any correlation between the affective constructs and between the two constructs and linguistic knowledge. and the scores of the whole sample on the two affective scales.1. b) factors accounting for high English writing apprehension only. The think-aloud and interview protocol data about the subjects’ writing process is beyond the scope of this article. 65 . respectively. on the one hand. on the other hand. three categories of factors accounting for the target population’s English writing negative affect were identified. 4. Identifying these factors was guided by reviewing the findings of the previous related studies.1 Factors Accounting for both of High English Writing Apprehension and Low English Writing Self-Efficacy (Negative English Writing Affect) 4. and c) factors accounting for low English writing self-efficacy only. 4 Results of the Study Based on comparing the scores of the 57 subjects on the two scales and the three linguistic tests.subjects chose to be interviewed in English. the researcher compared the scores of the 67 subjects on the EWAS and EWSS. the scores of the 57 subjects who completed the three linguistic tests to their scores on the two scales.
582 and +0.001. they correlate positively with their scores on the EWSS.582 for the Oxford Placement Test.657.631 and +0. respectively) and the Receptive Vocabulary Test (r = -0.631** -. the lower they are on the EWAS and the higher they are on the EWSS. +0.001 The results of analyzing the subjects’ scores on the two scales and the three linguistic tests are given in table 1 4.577** -. respectively. and d) the correlation between the two scales and the three linguistic tests can be generally4 described as moderate. both the subjects’ English writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy correlate significantly with their scores on the three linguistic tests. As the table illustrates.577. 2-tailed).657 for the EWAS and the EWSS. i. c) the correlation between the subjects’ scores on the two scales and their scores on the Productive Vocabulary Test (r = -0. 4 Although it was suggested by one of the anonymous reviewers that a graph should be included to illustrate the data in the table. Some observations can be made about the table above: a) while the subjects’ scores on the three linguistic tests correlate negatively with their scores on the EWAS.582** English Writing Self-efficacy Scale . 66 .e. this seems to make sense if we take into account the productive nature of the writing skill.e.621 for the EWAS and the EWSS. respectively) is higher than the correlation with their scores on the Oxford Placement Test (r = -0. it can be argued that the subjects’ low linguistic knowledge has caused their negative English writing affect and not vice versa. i. p < 0.621 for the Oxford Placement Test.694.694 for the EWAS and the EWSS. 2-tailed) is higher than the correlation between their scores on the EWAS and the three linguistic tests (r = -0.Table 1: Pearson’s product moment correlation coefficients between the subjects’ scores on the affective scales and their scores on the linguistic tests Oxford Productive Receptive Placement Vocabulary Vocabulary Test Test Test English Writing Apprehension Scale -. b) the correlation between the subjects’ scores on the EWSS and the three linguistic tests (r = +0. In light of these results. and +0. -0.577 and +0.631. respectively. the Productive Vocabulary Test and the Receptive Vocabulary Test.621** ** p < 0.001. it was felt that the graph was not necessary here as correlation coefficients do not usually require graphs. respectively). the higher the subject’s scores on the three linguistic tests. and -0.694** . p < 0.657** . the Productive Vocabulary Test and the Receptive Vocabulary Test.
I realize that this will be the most difficult subject in that term. The point becomes clearer when we take into consideration that some students may have unrealistic self-perceptions about their foreign language proficiency level which may. I can say this is because of lack of self-confidence. exert some influence on their writing affect. If the subjects’ performance on the three linguistic tests referred to above can be used as an indicator to identify their actual English linguistic knowledge level. in turn.it’s a cause and not a consequence. This seems to be consistent with the Deficit theory which states that students with low language skill proficiency are more likely to have negative affect. Some excerpts from the interviews of the subjects with NWA may help illustrate this5: (1) Wael: …I don’t have confidence in my writing because I know in advance that who reads my writing will comment on my grammar or vocabulary.1. The discussion about the subjects’ low language competence self-esteem in the next sub-section may support this view. i. which may or may not be consistent with that actual performance. 8 rated vocabulary as the main writing skill they need to improve. their negative affect is caused by lack of knowledge and skills (Duad et al. 2005). (3) Bahaa: …When I know that we'll study essay writing in a specific term. The interviews also showed that of the 16 subjects with NWA. 1 mentioned spelling. reported in the above 5 All the names given to the subjects in this article are pseudonymous. 67 .2 Low Foreign Language Competence Self-Esteem Relevant to the previous factor is the subjects’ self-beliefs about their English language competence or proficiency. This fits the higher correlation. writing essay needs self-confidence because of the language. (2) Fouad: I encounter the problem of how to say Arabic sentences in English and I don't have much vocabulary as well… my grammar is so bad… I write depending on intuition. is another factor that may contribute to their writing affect. their self-esteem of their English language competence or proficiency.e. 6 reported grammar.. 4. and another rated organizing the essay.
3 Poor History of Writing Achievement and Perceived Writing Performance Improvement The subjects’ writing affect appears to have been influenced by their English writing achievement as well. Consequently. none of the subjects with NWA reported obtaining that grade. respectively) but the latter had more ‘Very Good’ grades (n = 5 and 12 for the students with NWA and students with PWA. thus these beliefs may have exerted influence on their English writing affect.sub-section. generating the ideas or organizing the essay. 3 reported vocabulary. while three subjects with PWA reported getting ‘Distinction’ on one or two of their previous final English essay exams. When comparing the grades reported by both of the subjects with NWA and those with PWA (see table 2). Though some interviewees could not remember some of or all their grades on their previous essay exams. and 1 rated writing different genres. 4. it turned out that the interviewees with PWA got higher grades than those with NWA on the final English essay exams they have sat for in their previous academic years. i. For example. Moreover. It can be argued. then.1. as their primary need. 4 mentioned grammar or specific grammatical skills. On the other hand. the researcher have observed that while two groups were almost similar in their the number of the ‘Good’ grades reported (n = 16 and 13 for the students with NWA and students with PWA. that this is due to the beliefs held by the students with NWA about their English competence. respectively). the students with NWA outnumbered those with PWA in the ‘Pass’ grades (n= 19 and 6 for the students with NWA and students with PWA. What is meant by the achievement here is the grades the subjects reported they have obtained on the final English essay exams in their previous university academic years. but none of the students with PWA reported having such a frustrating experience. of writing affect with vocabulary knowledge than with grammar knowledge. the number of the subjects who reported improving the language-related writing skills as their main need is more in the group of the interviewees with NWA (n = 15 out of 16) than in the group of the interviewees with PWA (n = 7 out of 15). 7 of the 15 subjects with PWA interviewed reported improving their writing skills at the ideational or organizational levels. 68 . two of the subjects with NWA reported failing one of these final exams. respectively).e.
my present writing level has differed greatly from my first year level. the interview protocols revealed that the students with NWA differed from their peers with PWA in their perceptions about how their writing has been improved during their university study. It has been also be observed that some of those students with NWA reported some improvement in their writing performance have experienced a ‘comparison deficiency’. 1985: 63).. and unlike my first 69 . the writer’s continuous belief that his writing is deficient when compared to what he wants it to be (Daly. e. i.Table 2: the subjects’ reported English essay exam grades in their previous three university years No of No of subjects subjects reported No of Pass No of Good No of Very reported getting grades grades Good grades failing the Distinction reported reported reported essay exams grades Subjects 2 0 19 16 5 with NWA Subjects 0 3 6 13 12 with PWA Also. none of the students with PWA reported experiencing this comparison deficiency. The following is an example of how a student with PWA describes the way his writing has improved at both the product and process levels: (6) Alaa: Yes.. some of the students with NWA reported little improvement in their writing performance while some others said they didn’t feel any improvement in it. While all the students with PWA believed that their writing performance has improved or has improved greatly. my vocabulary and grammar are more accurate now. but compared to other students at other universities I know that my level is not good at all. it is not good. I can say that I'm good . I knew how to develop my essay and write good paragraphs. On the contrary. But if I compare my level to what it is supposed to be. The following excerpts from the interviews of two subjects with NWA show this: (4) Hamzah: If I compare myself with them (to his peers). (5) Bahaa: Compared to my peers I feel I'm good. my punctuation has become better.
2 Other Factors Accounting for High English Writing Apprehension 4.e. i.1. p < 0.year I knew what to write in advance because I plan my essay and write more than a draft of it. It may be concluded that when students do not have high self-confidence in their writing ability. they avoid any situation in which they may be required to write or their writing may be tested due to the detrimental experience they expect to have. 4.1 Low English Writing Self-Efficacy: Using the Pearson’s product moment correlation. does the lower level of English writing self-efficacy cause a higher level of writing apprehension or does the lower level of writing self-efficacy result from a higher level of writing apprehension? Given that the subjects’ writing self-efficacy correlates higher than writing apprehension with their linguistic knowledge and that the subjects’ language competence self-esteem was found to have contributed to the different levels of both constructs (subsections 4. This indicates that the more apprehensive the student writers are. 2-tailed). a stronger correlation than any of those reported above in 4.764. the lower self-efficacy level they have about their English writing and vice versa. 70 . it can be argued that both poor writing achievement and poor perceived writing performance improvement seem to have caused the subjects’ high writing apprehension as a result of the frustrating experiences they had and also to have influenced their perceived low level of writing self-efficacy due to the writing history they take into account when evaluating their writing ability and skills.2.1. the 67 subjects’ scores on the EWAS and the EWSS were analysed to examine any correlation between the two constructs. Based on the above.1. it seems then that the affirmative answer to the former question is more likely to be true.1 and 4.1. The analysis shows that there is a negative strong correlation between the two constructs (r = 0.2).001. But the question here is: which construct leads to the other.
71 . these are: . these subjects criticized three main aspects of the English writing instruction they have received. the subjects’ fear of their teachers or/and peers’ criticism or evaluation discussed in 4. While overuse of criticism is an external or teacher-related variable that causes writing apprehension.3 is an internal or learner-related variable that seems to stem from their communication apprehension rather than their teachers’ overuse of criticism. we find him criticizing us inappropriately before our peers. So I’m not sure of what I write: is it good or bad. it is worth pointing out that the two aspects are different. Thirteen of the 16 interviewees with high English writing apprehension reported their dissatisfaction with the English writing instruction they have received. More specifically.4. When I find him doing this.Teachers’ focus on teaching the theoretical concepts of writing and negligence of the practical aspects of writing instruction and of training them in using a variety of writing strategies: (7) Bahaa: We what have studied is theoretical concepts about essay writing …When I know that we'll study essay writing in a specific term… I really feel perplexed.2.2. the teachers have explained to us how to write an introduction and a conclusion to the essay but haven’t done anything more than this like giving us feedback on the essays we have submitted to them.2.Lack of teachers’ feedback on the essays they write: (9) Ahmad: I have been taught how to write English essays theoretically not practically. I hate writing essays. right or wrong? . 6 Though this detrimental aspect of English writing instructional practices appears to be related to sub-section 4.Teachers’ overuse of criticism when commenting on the essays presented in the lectures6: (10) Tarek: … Even if we have a teacher who motivates us to write. (8) Hytham: In the previous years. .2 Instructional Practices of English Writing The kind of essay writing instruction the subjects have received seems to be a main cause of writing apprehension for some of them. I didn't like attending the essay lectures because I didn't feel they are useful.3 where the subjects’ fear of criticism is discussed in detail.
I'm worried of being criticized for not writing in the good way I'm supposed to write in. two students of them reported their fear of their teachers’ rather than 72 . on the one hand. I realized that it is not merely writing in itself but it needs reading and that’s what I’ve been doing.3 Fear of Criticism Another factor that was found to have contributed to the subjects’ high writing apprehension is their worry about being criticized by their teachers. The following examples of the experiences reported by some high apprehensive writers illustrate this: (12) Hossam: Sometimes I give my essays to my peers but they criticize me. and by their peers on the other. some low apprehensive writers showed some aspects of autonomous learning when they reported their dependence on other sources other than the university writing instruction in developing their writing skills.It is worth mentioning here that 4 of the low apprehensive writers reported their dissatisfaction with some of the instructional practices as well. The interview protocols revealed that the students with high writing apprehension have experienced fear of both kinds of criticism. (13) Naser: I feel afraid of or I don't like writing… that’s because I find difficulty in generating ideas and I don't like anyone to see what I have written because I don't like to be in a testing or evaluation situation… I write English essays only if the teacher assigns us a topic. On the other hand. we don’t practise writing with the teachers… Practising essay writing depends on me not the teacher… When I began learning how to write English essays. However.2. almost none of the low apprehensive writers reported their fear of peers’ criticism. the kind of writing instruction we receive here is theoretical. 4. I have kept in my mind that I need to develop my language. (14) Bahaa: I don't like to show my essays to anyone else … I avoid doing this. translate more and write more. an example of this: (11) Farid: Actually. this is one of the reasons that makes me dislike writing… I mean criticism to my writing. Moreover. but the degree of their dissatisfaction seems to be less than that of the high apprehensive ones. so I tried to read more. but don’t submit it to the teacher… Even if I write my ideas I keep in mind not to show it to anyone because of criticism. Since joining the faculty.
I don’t like writing in English …This is the case also in English conversation classes. (16) Ahmad: No. but I wasn’t able to participate because of my worry of being criticized.peers’ criticism. once the conversation teacher asked us to prepare for a certain topic in a conversation class and I did. It is worth mentioning also that three of the high apprehensive writers interviewed reported that they have experienced speaking apprehension due to such fear of criticism as well: (15) Hossam: I'm good at listening. that the subjects with high writing apprehension have experienced communication apprehension due to having such fear of criticism.3 (writing achievement) in being a formative feedback given formally or informally to the student by teachers. 4.3 Other Factors Accounting for Low English Writing Self-Efficacy 4. It can be argued.1. it seems both of writing apprehension and speaking apprehension are two related constructs that might have resulted from those students’ fear of criticism to the mistakes they may make. As the above interview excerpts show. This evaluation is also different from fear of criticism (4. while the latter is a formal summative evaluation given to the student by the university based on his performance on the final essay exam. the subjects with low self-efficacy seem to have judged their own writing ability in light of the writing evaluation they receive from others.3. The interviews have shown that some of the subjects have received comments on English writing performance from their peers or their teachers or from others from outside the University 73 . therefore. The kind of evaluation discussed here is different from the one discussed in 4.2. peers or others.3) in that it does not necessarily include any kind of criticism that makes students worried or apprehensive.1 Others’ Evaluation of the Student’s Writing In addition to the three factors mentioned in section 4. I speak better than I write… but even in speaking sometimes I feel too shy to talk because of being afraid of making mistakes.1 that may have contributed to the subjects’ English writing low self-efficacy level.
On the other hand. Regarding how positive or negative the comments the two categories of the subjects received from the feedback source were. the interviews indicated that the subjects with high English writing self-efficacy have received more positive feedback on their writing performance than their peers with low self-efficacy. the following excerpts from the interviews of two subjects of high writing self-efficacy show the positive feedback they have received: (19) Mohsen: I usually show my essays to my friends. (20) Maher: Yes. Sometimes I present my essays in the lectures. they say my writing is good. 5 Discussion of the Results The data analysis has revealed that the factors accounting for the differences in the writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy levels of the subjects can be classified into three 74 . In general. or help. I’m used to asking a teacher of English in my village to read the English essays I write because I feel his evaluation is helpful… He usually advises me to pay more attention to the grammar and to focus on connecting my ideas because I’m not good at this. However. primarily from others who don’t belong to the University. Sometimes I move to some point in my essay without talking completely about the previous one. The following interview excerpts for two of the subjects with low writing self-efficacy show this: (17) Ahmad: I don’t ask my peers to read my essays. (18) Hossam: Sometimes I show my essays to my peers but they criticize me … In most cases they criticize my vocabulary. my teachers may criticize the expressions I use. they comment on them positively. While most of the subjects with high writing selfefficacy have reported that they sought feedback on their writing mainly from their peers or/and their university teachers.with more writing expertise than them. I think they like them. most of the subjects with low self-efficacy were found to have sought feedback. I have a colleague in the hostel with whom I exchange reading and evaluating each other’s essays. and/or their peers. such as teachers of English in their neighbourhoods. Generally he likes my writing.
Given that the vast majority of the previous studies on writing apprehension have used the multi-dimensional Dally-Miller (1975) WAT that has been viewed by many researchers. The results shown by the present study about the correlation between the subjects’ English writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy and their linguistic knowledge and language competence self-esteem may be consistent with Duad et al. Daly & Wilson. e. Only two high apprehensive interviewees reported their avoidance of writing essays because of being lazy.’s (1999).g Dickson-Markman (1985) and Cheng et al.categories: a) three factors accounting for both constructs: linguistic knowledge. the results reached about how writing apprehension and/or writing self-efficacy can be shaped by writers’ previous history of writing performance and assessment are consistent with those of some L1 writing studies (e. 75 . It is worth mentioning that three subjects reported two other factors that might have caused their high writing apprehension.e. Moreover. only one reported his apprehension about his Arabic writing while the other four were found to have a very positive attitude to it. perceived linguistic knowledge or language competence. students’ laziness or lack of motivation. This does not seem to be compatible with Hadaway’s (1988) conclusion that L1 and L2 writing perceptions may be strongly related. English writing achievement and classroom anxiety in accounting for the variance in EFL writing apprehension.g. The first one of these two factors is L1 writing apprehension. The second factor was a personal one. Of the five students who talked about their L1 writing experience in the interviews. 1983. to measure the two constructs investigated in the present study. They seem to be congruent with those of Cheng (2002) and Rankin-Brown (2006) about the role of perceived English writing proficiency. instructional practices of English writing and fear of criticism. i. and c) a factor accounting English writing self-efficacy only: others’ evaluation of the student’s writing. and the history of writing achievement and perceived writing performance improvement.’s (2005) view that the lack of language-related writing skills causes writing apprehension and vice-versa. b) three factors accounting for English writing apprehension only: English writing self-efficacy. it can be concluded that the results reached by this study about the factors that have contributed to differences in the subjects’ English writing apprehension and writing self-efficacy levels support those reached by some other previous L1 and L2 writing studies.
e. The subjects’ dissatisfaction with the lecture teaching mode calls for replacing it with the normal classroom mode based on which the target population students can be divided into small groups so as to have some level of teacher and peer interaction.Wittman. The teachers can also help the students develop their linguistic knowledge by using reading-to-write tasks and having them use English rather than Arabic when discussing or talking about their writing. the teachers need to use an integrated mode of the process and product approaches to teaching writing. and interrogative syntax (Hyland & Hyland. content/form. early/final drafts or beginning/end of the course. The results of the present study emphasize the need for addressing the factors accounting for negative writers affect. they could mitigate their criticism by using strategies such as paired act pattern (combining criticism with praise or suggestions or both). What distinguishes the results of the present study from those of the previous ones is that they have highlighted two important factors that seem to account more than others for both constructs. 76 . To help these students develop a more positive writing affect. 1992. linguistic knowledge and writing instructional practices. Important also is training students in how to respond to their peers’ writing appropriately. While the former will help the students overcome the problem of communication apprehension and become more motivated in their writing via using teacher-student and student-student interactions. i. When responding to students’ writing. In addition. teachers’ feedback should be constructive. When criticising students’ writing. 2001). Washholz & Etheridge. of their comments. Finally. the latter could enhance their language skills. the results of the present study support Cheng’s (2002: 653) view that that there seems to be also a much stronger relationship between different types of affective experiences one has ‘across different modes of communication within one language than across different languages’. 1995). and focus. personal attribution (commenting on the text as an ordinary reader rather than as an expert). so they need to be cautions about the amount of praise and criticism given and about the timing. writers with low self-efficacy need to be provided with self-regulation training. hedges. providing those students with a computer-based teaching of writing may foster the writing classroom supportive environment that could exert a positive influence on their writing affect. Generally speaking.
Teachers need to help those students overcome their negative English writing affect by adopting a comprehensive approach to teaching writing that could meet their strategic. linguistic and psychological needs. More specifically. along with those of previous ones. Finally. communication apprehension and poor writing achievement history.6 Conclusion The results of the present study emphasize the integrative nature of the L2/FL writing skill. The students with low English linguistic knowledge were found to have higher writing apprehension and lower writing self-efficacy due to their low language ability self-esteem. The instructional practices those students have been exposed to should not be ignored as well. Further research is needed to document those results reached by the present study and other previous ones on the factors that may cause students to have NWA and to investigate how dominant these factors are in different L2/FL writing contexts. approaches and texts. such further research needs to explore some of the issues on which previous studies reported inconsistent results such as gender differences in writing affect and the relationship between both of L2/FL and L1 writing affect. and what relative influence writing affect exerts on writing performance when compared to other explanatory variables such as language proficiency . will help writing teachers and writing instruction theorists have a more comprehensive picture of how writing affect is shaped and how it influences students’ writing process. The findings of these future studies. intervention techniques and approaches proposed for helping student writers to have more positive writing affect need to be tested to determine their effectiveness. Acknowledgements I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Mr Phil Scholfield for his valuable comments on the article and for helping me in verifying the psychometric characteristics of the instruments of my study. Needed also is research that examines how students with different levels of writing affect differ in their writing process and product. 77 .
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Appendix 1: The English Writing Apprehension Scale Directions: Below are some statements about your writing in English. Unless I have no choice. just take your time and try to be as honest as possible. Please indicate the degree to which each statement applies to you by ticking whether you (1) strongly agree. ERIC Document. I do not like my English essays to be evaluated.Shell. 8. 91–100. I do not like English writing classes. While some of the statements may seem repetitious. (2) agree. 81. 12: 4250. Murphy. (1992) ‘Situational Factors Influencing Writing Apprehension In The Community College Composition Classroom’. 6. B. I would use English to write essays. 3. M.. I have no fear of my English writing being evaluated. D. F. C. 9. (1989) ‘Self-Efficacy and Outcome Expectancy Mechanisms in Reading and Writing Achievement’. DAI-A 52. E.. I would rather read than write in English. and Bruning. Journal of Educational Psychology. (4) disagree. There are no right or wrong answers to these statements. I usually do my best to avoid situations in which I have to write in English. I like discussing my English writing with others. Whenever possible. 12. I am afraid of writing essays in English when I know they will be evaluated. or (5) strongly disagree with the statement. I would not use English to write essays. 80 Disagree Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree Agree . P. 7. (3) are uncertain. Uncertain Statement 1. I usually do my best to avoid writing English essays. Wittman. I usually seek every possible chance to write English essays outside of class. Washholz. 11. 2. C. ED403563. 5. P. 4. and Etheridge C. I like writing in English. H. R. 10. (1995) ‘Speaking for Themselves: Writing SelfEfficacy Beliefs of High and Low Apprehensive Writers’.
mine is one of the best. I do not think I write in English as well as my classmates. 2. I am not good at writing in English. When I hand in an English essay I know I am going to do poorly. Please indicate the degree to which each statement applies to you by ticking whether you (1) strongly agree. or (5) strongly disagree with the statement. I feel confident in my ability to clearly express my ideas when writing in English. I expect to do poorly in English writing classes even before I enter them. (4) disagree. People seem to like what I write in English. 3. It is easy for me to write good essays in English. 6. Try to be as honest as possible. When my class is asked to write an essay. Strongly Disagree 81 Strongly Agree Agree . (2) agree. There are no right or wrong answers to these statements. Uncertain Disagree Statement 1. 4. 5. (3) are uncertain. 8.Appendix 2: The English Writing Self-Efficacy Scale Part one Directions: Below are some statements about your English writing. 7.
Organize sentences into a paragraph so as to clearly express theme. Write compound and complex sentences with proper punctuation and grammatical structure.). Write an essay with appropriate vocabulary.). etc. Correctly spell all the words in a one page essay. effective transition. Write a strong paragraph that has a good topic sentence or main idea. Correctly punctuate a one page essay. Write an essay with a good overall organization (i. 9. 4.e. ideas in order. verbs. 7. how confident are you that you can perform each of the following English writing skills? 1 2 3 4 5 Very Unconfident Neither Confident Very Unconfident Confident nor Confident Unconfident Neither Confident nor Unconfident Very Unconfident Unconfident Skill 1. 3. 8. nouns. Correctly use parts of speech (i. prefixes. and suffixes. 82 Confident Very Confident . verb tenses. 5. Write simple sentences with proper punctuation and grammatical structure. 2. e. adjectives.Part two On a scale from 1 (very unconfident) to 5 (very confident). Correctly use plurals. 6. 10. etc.
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