Students have difficulty with text building. They fail to structure their work and present it as a beautiful whole.
Structure, style and punctuation
We have analyzed 100 papers from ten different programs. We found that students mainly have trouble with text building. They fail to structure their work and present it as a beautiful whole. Their papers contain illogical jumps, unnecessary repetitions or incoherent paragraphs. Students also struggle with the writing style and academic language: some write too personally, others too archaically. Punctuation marks also cause problems. Many students skip too sparingly, resulting in very long sentences. It is remarkable that the number of mistakes in spelling and vocabulary is rather small.
A research shows that low writing skills often lead to a lower grade for the student. Teachers primarily look at the content of a text, but in their assessment take into account (consciously or not) the way in which the student formulates that text. Both the number and the type of language errors play a role in the assessment of the assignment.
Especially sloppiness errors (such as typing errors), structural errors (such as illogical sentences) and mistakes that make reading more difficult (such as vague use of language), influence the score. Spelling mistakes also remain a major source of irritation for many lecturers. Their frustration is understandable if you know that students can avoid such mistakes by working attentively and building in more self-control. Some students go further by hiring a cheap writing service that helps them in learning. Such a service not only gives them quality papers but also teach them indirectly how to write them.
Researchers and teachers see two important explanations for the low level of language proficiency. For example, the current generation of students is struggling with an ‘attitude problem’. Many people do not (correctly) read their texts and do not use the spell checker on their PC.
Students often estimate their own language skills higher than their environment and do not realize enough that the shape of their text is also important. The connection problems during the transition from secondary to higher education are also mentioned. Students feel insecure and insufficiently prepared, while many teachers see too much gap between lessons in secondary education and the academic language and skills expected of a university student.
To combine forces
We advocate remediation, exercise and follow-up: The development of language feeling and language control does not stop at a certain age and can always be improved. Why should higher education not support it? It is through concrete feedback and constant adjustments that the student will learn to recognize and improve his own shortcomings. Of course students – and rightly – are expected to have a certain degree of autonomy and (language) maturity. Teachers may assume that their students are able to learn by doing and In their experience with academic texts to grow, the importance of feedback can not be overlooked at this level either.
Students have to realize that a well-kept and correct language is expected from them, both within their studies and in the professional field. At present, many students do not seem to realize that the ‘packaging’ of their message deserves the necessary attention.