One of the challenges in writing at tertiary level faced by the EFL students is developing paragraphs. The Bangladeshi students tend to memorize certain paragraphs and are not aware of the basic structure and organization of paragraph writing. Hence, the write-up reveals that Moodle as the Blended Learning Platform could be a wonderful and effective way to guide students through written feedback.
According to Khan and Akter (2011) we measure students’ understanding of English through their writing capabilities. In Bangladesh, we teach English at all levels and hence students sit for examinations to prove their proficiency/understanding of English through writing exams only. Since the three other skills are ignored, it becomes difficult to cope with university education where the texts and even the medium of instruction are in English. Even with the writing skills, they face problems as they tend to memorize certain topics/ideas to pass the exams. They lack proper guidance from the teachers as well who as part of the system mostly focuses on good grades of the students. In one of the studies, Uddin (2014) mentions that although there is a huge focus on writing, still it is the least developed skill here in Bangladesh. Hence, the success on the skill depends on how students prove their efficiency on summaries, reviews, essays etc which not only includes English department students but also other departments as Science and Engineering.
On the other hand, Alam (2019) states that although sometimes students have knowledge on several grammatical aspects and vocabulary still face trouble to organize the ideas coherently with proper structures. Moreover we know that proficiency in this writing skill not only depends on the use of structures but also mechanical and stylistic skill. To use the language effectively stylistic is important whereas mechanical skill is the ability to use the conventions as punctuation and spelling.
In Bangladesh, several researchers focused on students’ writing problems and in a research Khan and Akter (2011) mentioned that usage of word and sentences are the main problems of undergraduate students here. They suggested revising the training curriculum where the aims and objectives need modification to ensure the linkage between objectives and assessment strategies. The other Bangladeshi researcher Ahmed (1999) mentions that here our students tend to prodice errors in the usage of articles whereas Mustaque. S. (2014) states that our undergraduate students have serious issues regarding lexio-semantic errors, specifically in using verbs, prepositions and articles. Another study by Fahmida, B. (2010) focuses on errors which include spelling, punctuation and organization. She suggested to include some intensive English courses before going for any specialization.
Importance of teachers’ feedback
Feedback helps students not only to grow but also measure learners’ understanding gradually. Hence, the points along with the procedure should be mentioned specifically where the learner needs improvement (Wiliam, 2007). Similar focus has been found in Black and Wiliam’s (1998) research where they mentioned on specific problems and how to fix them. So meaningful feedback is the essential to improve as learner gradually which has the following two components to focus on:
- Verbal feedback’s content: A teacher can communicate and share her feelings toward the student who needs guidance and support to improve. Also, the teacher needs to encourage that student through motivating words as he has that capability to be successful as a writer if work a little more on the identified problems.
- The platform for the feedback: In the 21st century, the writing is often submitted digitally and hence students need particular platform to receive specific feedback from teachers. Here in this research, Moodle has been used as the tool for providing and receiving feedback which could engage students outside the classroom according to their convenience. With this, categorization of errors is also important along with their corresponding feedback. Physical connection was needed for further motivation here in the research.
Moodle and its application in developing paragraph writing
Through threaded discussions on Moodle, the students can engage themselves according to their convenience which may not include physical class time. Rather than physical attributes, online engagement may help them recognize and understand the problems intensely which helps them to develop a time-management strategy on their own.
Daffodil International University encourages effective online engagement of both teachers and learners through several platforms as Google classroom, Forum and Moodle outside the usual classroom. Hence, the researchers selected Moodle as the platform to engage the selected students who were seriously motivated to develop their paragraph writing through feedback on organization with a little focus on grammar. Students who participated in this study agreed that the feedback along with the provided materials encouraged them to develop techniques to apply. It is also true that without direct physical contact and interaction with other learners or an instructor, online students can lose their interest or motivation mid-way through their course or program. Hence, the instructors met the students twice per week physically and discussed issues accordingly.
The students who participated in this study agreed on the importance of developing writing skills and mentioned the significance of questioning for the development. One of the students mentioned, ‘I had to go deep to fix my problem which helped me to prepare the final draft.’ Continuous motivation is sometimes difficult in the classroom and hence personally motivated students find it a great asset to the online learning experience through platforms as Moodle here. They can continue with that serious personal motivation and make use of time conveniently.
Apart from this they could develop a strong bonding or relationship with the fellow students as well which can be termed as ‘meaningful connection’. This also promotes a sense of being an active learner among others. Although there isn’t any magic to be successful in online learning, but categorization of errors help the teachers identify and categorize students to provide constructive feedback accordingly. This may help us to get the maximum from an online course. The techniques used for the providing and receiving feedback may help achieve the goals and objectives of an online course.
Ahmed, S. (1999) The Problem of Teaching English Grammar to Bengali-Speaking Students. Collected Papers, The British Council and the NCTB, Dhaka.
Fahmida, B. (2010) Bangladeshi Tertiary Students’ Common Errors in Academic Writings. http://dspace.bracu.ac.bd/handle/10361/252
Khan, H.R. and Akter, M.Z. (2011) Students’ Mistakes and Errors in English Writing: Implications for Pedagogy. 8, 11, 23. http://www.ewubd.edu/ewu/downloadfile/crt/Research%20Report%20No.1%202011.pdf
Mustaque, S. (2014) Writing Problems among the Tertiary Level Students in Bangladesh: A Study in Chittagong Re- S. Afrin 113 gion. Language in India, 14, 334. http://www.languageinindia.com/jan2014/shakiladissertation.html
Uddin, M.E. (2014) Teachers’ Pedagogical Belief and its Reflection on the Practice in Teaching Writing in EFL Tertiary Context in Bangladesh. Journal of Education and Practice, 5, 116.
Wiliam, D. (2007). Keeping learning on track: Classroom assessment and the regulation of learning. In F. K. Lester Jr. (Ed.), Second handbook of mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 1053-1098). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Williams, S. E. (1997, March). Teachers’ written comments and students’ responses: A socially constructed interaction. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Phoenix, AZ. Retrieved
Zahirul Islam, A.F.M. Moshiur Rahman and Khorshed Alam. (2019); TEACHING EFL WRITING AT THE SSC LEVEL IN BANGLADESH: CHALLENGES AND CONSIDERATIONS. Int. J. of Adv. Res. 7 (Aug). 855-860] (ISSN 2320-5407).
Bio of the author:
Afroza Akhter Tina serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Daffodil
International University. She is a certified Advanced TESOL Practitioner and an E-Teacher
Alumna of the U. S. Department of State, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her research interest includes
Assessment, Learner Autonomy, Teaching with Technology, Continuous Professional