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Common Errors in Composition Writing of BSN Freshmen

Background of the Study

Writing has helped transform the world.  Revolutions have been started by it. Oppression has been toppled by it. Writing, however, has enlightened the human condition according to The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges (2003). Our own history is richer because of writers who kept the Filipino spirit awake and vigilant from the time of the Spanish regime to the period of American domination, and the fifteen – year period of martial law. Armed only with a pen, these writers have changed the course of Philippine history by striking the patriotic cords of the heroes we remember to have actively joined in a united front against the imperialists. Today, modern writers continue to echo voices from the past as they remain vanguards of the Filipino nation amidst current issues and controversies.
At a more practical level, writing has long been an avenue for growth, catharsis and healing. A myriad of human emotions from grief, joy, even anger seemingly make more sense when expressed in various literary channels. Many people who find themselves unable to express what they think or feel in speech often find themselves able to write up a storm, pouring out their hearts and souls on paper whether their thoughts are long and well-thought out, written in elegant calligraphy or hasty and vacillating, written in ugly scrawls.
However, good writers seem to be a dying breed, soon to join the dinosaurs in the annals of the extinct. Whatever the reason, be it due to the inability to write past life’s many distractions, the infamous writer’s block, or the growing apathy in the race toward automation, writing has become a tedious effort in an era of fast food and instant coffee.
It is in this light that this study seeks to determine whether common errors in writing of BSN freshmen students as to task completion, comprehensibility, level of discourse, vocabulary, language control and mechanics and degree of seriousness of the problems encountered in composition writing are affected by factors such as gender, age, grade in Communication Arts I, score in English in the Proficiency Test administered by the Guidance Office, ethnic affiliation, religious affiliation, mother’s occupation, mother’s educational attainment, father’s occupation, father’s educational attainment, monthly income of the family, print and electronic materials at home, language spoken at home and type of school graduated from.

Research Problem
This study aimed to determine the common errors in composition writing of BSN Freshmen students of Aldersgate College SY 2007 – 2008 as a basis for designing a module for writing skills improvement.
It also aimed to answer the following questions:

1. What is the profile of the BSN freshmen students of SY 2007 – 2008 as to:

1.1 gender

1.2 age

1.3 ethnic affiliation

1.4 religious affiliation

1.5 grade in Communication Arts I

1.6 score in the English Proficiency Tests administered by the
Guidance Office

1.7 mother’s occupation

1.8 mother’s educational attainment

1.9 father’s occupation

1.10 father’s educational attainment

1.11 monthly income of the family

1.12 print and electronic materials at home

1.13 language spoken at home

1.14 type of high school from which the respondents graduated

2. What is the level of writing performance of the BSN freshmen students according to:

2.1 the different ratings made by four Aldersgate English instructors using both the analytic and holistic scales as to:

2.1.1 task completion

2.1.2 comprehensibility

2.1.3 level of discourse

2.1.4 vocabulary

2.1.5 language control

2.1.6 mechanics

2.1.7 the Error Density Index

3. What are the common errors in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students?

4. What is the degree of seriousness of the problems in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students as to the type of high school from which the respondents graduated:

4.1 public school

4.2 private school

5. Is there any significant difference on the degree of seriousness of the problems in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students as to the type of high school from which the respondents graduated?

6. Is there any significant relationship between the degree of seriousness of the problems in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students of SY 2007 -2008 when grouped according to the profile variables?

Respondents of the Study
The respondents of this study were Bachelor of Science in Nursing freshmen students enrolled during the school year 2007 -2008.

There are 65 students officially enrolled freshmen students in the College of Medical Sciences taking up Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 20 of which are males and 45 are females. This study utilized 55 respondents.
Below is a table showing the respondents’ distribution as to gender.

Table 1

Frequency and Distribution of Respondents

Number of Respondents as to Gender Frequency Percentage
Male 13 23.64%
Female 42 76.36%
Total 55 100

Statistical Treatment of the Data
The following statistical treatments were used in the study:

1. For the profile of the BSN freshmen students as to gender, age, grade point average in English, score in English in the Proficiency Test administered by the Guidance Office, ethnic affiliation, religious affiliation, mother’s occupation, mother’s educational attainment, father’s occupation, father’s educational attainment, monthly income of the family, print and electronic materials at home, language spoken at home and type of  high school graduated from, Frequency Distribution, Percentage and Ranking were used. Mean was used for age.

2. To determine the level of writing performance of the BSN freshmen students as to:
a. task completion, comprehensibility, level of discourse, vocabulary, language control and mechanics, the Weighted Mean of different ratings made by four Aldergsate College instructors using both the analytic and holistic scales was taken.

b. errors in writing, Error Density Index and Ranking were used.

3. To determine the common errors in composition writing of the BSN freshmen, Frequency Distribution, Percentage and Ranking were used.

4. To determine the degree of seriousness of the problems in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students, Frequency Distribution, Percentage and Ranking were used.

5. To determine if there is any significant difference on the seriousness of  problems in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students as to the type of school they graduated whether public or private school, Mean and One – Way Analysis of Variance were used.

6. To determine if there is any significant relationship between the problems in composition writing of the BSN freshmen students according to the following variables: gender, age, grade point average in English, score in English in the Proficiency Test administered by the Guidance Office, ethnic affiliation, religious affiliation, mother’s occupation, mother’s educational attainment, father’s occupation, father’s educational attainment, monthly income of the family, print and electronic materials at home, language spoken at home Pearson Product Moment Coefficient of Correlation was used.

Findings

1. Profile of the Respondents

Gender
Of the 55 respondents, 13 or 23.64 percent are males and 42 or 76.36 percent are females. This shows that there are more female nursing freshmen students than male nursing freshmen students.

Age
The BSN freshmen respondents have a mean age of 17.05. This reveals that most of the BSN freshmen respondents are within the normal age range of first year college students.

Grade in Communication Arts I

The mean grade of the BSN freshmen respondents is 2.55. This is translated to a score between 80 and 84.

English Score in the Proficiency Test Administered by the Guidance Office

The mean score is 51.64 which can be interpreted as average. Of the 55 respondents, 25 or 45.45 percent scored lower than half of the test while 30 or 54.55 percent scored higher than half of the test.

Ethnic Affiliation
Of the 55 respondents, 24 or 43.64 percent are Tagalogs, they are followed by the Ilocanos at 13 or 23.64, 8 or 14.55 percent are a mixture of Tagalog and Ilocano, 4 or 7.27 are Ifugaos, 2 or 3.64 percent are a mixture of Tagalog and Gaddang. The majority of the respondents are Tagalogs.

Religious Affiliation

Of the 55 respondents, 33 or 60 percent are Roman Catholics, 9 or 16.36 percent are Methodists, 7 or 12.73 belong to the Born Again and 3 or 5.45 percent are members of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Other religious affiliations include Espiritista, Church of Christ and Evangelicals with 1 respondent each sharing equal percentage of 1.82 percent.

Mother’s Occupation

Of the 55 respondents, 16 or 29.09 percent have mothers working as housekeepers, 9 or 16.6 percent are into business, 7 or 12.73 percent have mothers working as overseas Filipino workers, the same number goes to those who are teaching and also for those who are unemployed, 3 or 5.45 percent are into farming. Forty seven (47) or 85.45 percent of the respondents’ mothers are employed whereas only 7 or 12.73 percent are unemployed.

Mother’s Educational Attainment

Of the 55 respondents, 21 or 38.18 percent have mothers who are college graduates, 15 or 27.27 percent who are high school graduates, 11 or 20 percent who are college undergraduates, 3 or 5.45 percent who are high school undergraduates, 2 or 3.64 who are elementary graduates. The same number goes to those who have mothers who have reached post-graduate level. This shows that majority of the mothers of the BSN freshmen respondents are college graduates, the number of college graduates being 21 or 38.18 percent.

Father’s Occupation
Of the 55 respondents, 20 or 36.36 percent have fathers who are into farming, 7 or 12.73 percent are into business, 5 or 9.09 are into driving, the same number goes for those who are working as overseas Filipino workers, 4 or 7.27 percent are into teaching. The same number goes for those who are unemployed. This shows that 47 or 85.45 percent of the respondents’ fathers are employed while only 4 or 7.27 percent are unemployed.

Father’s Educational Attainment
Of the 55 respondents, 16 or 29.09 percent of the respondents’ fathers are college graduates. The same number goes to those who are high school graduates while 11 or 20 percent are college undergraduates, 5 or 9.09 percent are elementary graduates. The same number goes to those are high school undergraduates and 2 or 3.64 are graduates of a technical – vocational course. This shows that there is an equal number of fathers who are college graduates and those who graduated from high school.
Further, the percentage of fathers who are college graduates which is at 29.09 percent is lower than the percentage of mothers who are college graduates which is at 38.18 percent.
Monthly Family Income
Of the 55 respondents, 18 or 32.73 percent receive a monthly income between 8,000 and 11,000 thousand pesos, 13 or 23.64 percent receive a monthly income which is below 5,000 thousand pesos, 8 or 14.55 percent receive a monthly income between 5,000 and 7,000 thousand pesos, the same number goes for those who receive a monthly income between 15,000 and 19,000 thousand pesos. Only 3 or 5.45 percent receive a monthly salary between 20,000 thousand pesos and above.
Since the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) set the annual per capita poverty threshold in areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) at Php 228.00 per day (IBON E Media), data reveal that 21 or 38.19 percent of the respondents receive a monthly income below this threshold while 34 or 62.82 percent of the respondents receive a monthly income above this threshold.
Multi-Media Materials Available at Home
Of the 55 respondents, 54 or 98.18 percent have print media available at home. This includes respondents who have books which is at 50 or 90.91 percent, educational journals at 26 or 47.27 percent, magazines at 40 or 72.73 percent and newspapers at 34 or 61.82 percent. Furthermore, all of the 55 respondents or 100 percent have non-print media available at home. This includes computers with internet at 5 or 9.09 percent, computer without internet at 10 or 18.18 percent, electronic learning packages at 13 or 23.64 percent, radios at 51 or 92.73 percent and television sets at 53 or 96.36 percent. The data gathered show that multi-media materials are readily available to the BSN freshmen respondents.

Language Spoken at Home

Of the 55 respondents, 16 or 29.09 percent speak Ilocano at home, 14 or 25.45 percent speak a mixture of Tagalog and Ilocano, 12 or 21.82 speak Tagalog, 4 or 7.27 percent speak a mixture of English, Tagalog and Ilocano and 2 or 3.64 percent speak a mixture of English, Tagalog and Gaddang. The information shows that there are two major languages spoken by the respondents. These languages are Ilocano and Tagalog.

High School From Which the Respondents Graduated
Of the 55 respondents, 39 or 70.91 percent graduated from public high schools while 16 or 29.09 percent graduated from private high schools.This shows that there are more respondents who are graduates of public high schools than those who graduated from private high schools.

2. Level of Writing Performance

2.1 According to Ratings Made by Four Aldersgate College Instructors as to:

Analytic Rating

Task Completion

Task completion has a weighted mean of 2.85. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Comprehensibility
Comprehensibility has a weighted mean of 2.45. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Level of Discourse

Level of Discourse has a weighted mean of 2.24. Four Aldersgate College English  instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Vocabulary
Vocabulary has a weighted mean of 2.13. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.
Language Control
Language control has a weighted mean of 2.02. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Mechanics

Mechanics has a weighted mean of 1.95. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as does not meet expectations.

Holistic Rating

Task Completion

Task completion has a weighted mean of 79.28. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Comprehensibility
Comprehensibility has a weighted mean of 76.22. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Level of Discourse
Level of discourse has a weighted mean of 74.21 Four Aldersgate College Englsih instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Vocabulary
Vocabulary has a weighted mean of 73.59. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as almost meets expectations.

Language Control
Language control has a weighted mean of 72.40. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as does not meet expectations.

Mechanics

Mechanics has a weighted mean of 71.75. Four Aldersgate College English instructors rated the respondents’ essays as does not meet expectations.

2.2 According to the Error Density Index

The BSN freshmen respondents wrote an average of 97.55 words and 5.45 sentences in composition writing. They also committed an average of 18.87 errors, having an error density index of 4.70, which is high considering that scores should be close to or near zero. This also indicates that for every 97.55 words, the respondents commit 19.34 percent error. In terms of sentences, for every 5.45 sentences, 3.46 errors are committed.

3. Common Errors in Composition Writing of BSN Freshmen Students

Results show that the most common error committed is on tense and aspect with 321 or 30.92 percent. This is followed by type style which is at 140 or 13.49 percent, the use of punctuations at 125 or 12.04 percent, incomplete construction at 54 or 5.20 percent, the use of prepositions at 49 or 4.72 percent, the use of determiners at 41 or 3.95 percent and vagueness and ambiguity in construction at 33 or 3.18 percent. A total of 28 or 2.70 percent errors in reference of pronouns and coordination were made.

4. Degree of Seriousness of the Problems in Composition Writing of BSN Freshmen Students as to the type of high school graduated from

4.1 From the data, it can be seen that the respondents who graduated from public high schools perceived all of the problems given to be slightly serious. Students from public schools added other problems such as difficult topic and grammar. These problems were perceived to be not a problem.

4.2 Respondents who graduated from private high schools perceived all the problems given to be slightly serious.

4.2.1 effect of bilingualism in school

4.2.2 influence of vernacular at home

4.2.3 insufficient practice

4.2.4 lack of direct teaching

4.2.5 lack of motivation and interest in the use of the
language

4.2.6 lack of supervision of the teacher

4.2.7 lack of teaching aids

4.2.8 own carelessness

4.2.9 poor English background

4.2.10 poor mastery of language patterns

4.2.11poor reading habits

5. Significant Difference in the Seriousness of Problems in Composition Writing of BSN Freshmen Students as to the Type of School Graduated From Whether Public or Private
There is no significant difference in the seriousness of problems in composition writing of BSN freshmen students as to the type of school graduated from whether public or private. This indicates that students from both public and private schools have similar levels in writing proficiency and have the same perceptions regarding the degree of seriousness of problems in composition writing. They perceived the problems enumerated as slightly serious. While some respondents added other problems such as grammar and topic, these were perceived as not a problem.

6. Significant Relationship Between the Problems in Composition Writing of the BSN Freshmen Students According to the following variables: gender, age, grade in Communication Arts I, score in English in the Proficiency Test administered by the Guidance Office, ethnic affiliation, religious affiliation, mother’s occupation, mother’s educational attainment, father’s occupation, father’s educational attainment, monthly income of the family, print and electronic materials at home, language spoken at home
Results of the study show that among all the variables, only the respondents’ score in English in the Proficiency Test administered by the Guidance Office exhibited a significant relationship with the problems in composition writing. The rest of the variables, gender, age, grade in Communication Arts I, ethnic affiliation, religious affiliation, mother’s occupation, mother’s educational attainment, father’s occupation, father’s educational attainment, monthly income of the family, print and electronic materials at home and language spoken at home showed no significant relationship with the problems in composition writing.

Recommendations
In the light of the findings and conclusions of the study, the following are recommended:

1. For Communication Arts teachers to continue to facilitate and enrich learning in composition writing and guide students in the accomplishment of assigned tasks specially in the areas of task completion, comprehensibility, level of discourse, vocabulary, language control and mechanics.

2. For Communication Arts teachers to conduct refresher lessons in basic grammar and provide more student – based activities to ensure that students learn both the principles and their application in the writing tasks.

3. For Communication Arts teachers, other faculty members, the administration to look into lessening the factors that negatively affect the acquisition of the English language and increasing the opportunities for learning English. These include:

3.1 increasing the students desire to learn the language by providing sufficient, current and relevant aids for learning
3.2 inculcating the need to learn the English language as the world becomes more global crossing borders, cultures, governments, institutions and corporations from around the world
3.3 providing avenues for the students to freely express themselves in English such as public speeches, debates, poetry reading, drama clubs and the like

4. To address the problem in composition writing on:

4.1 the effect of bilingualism in school, for the school to have a stricter policy on the use of English in the campus
4.2 the influence of vernacular at home,  for government and non-government institutions to make materials for English learning such as books, magazines, newspapers, educational journals, cassettes and video compact discs  readily available to students through public libraries or donations to schools
4.3 insufficient practice, lack of direct teaching, lack of motivation and interest in the use of the language, lack of supervision, lack of teaching aids, for teachers to adopt various teaching styles and maximize the use of teaching aids to make learning an effective and enjoyable process and to practice positive ways of providing correction to prevent students from fearing embarrassment and avoiding opportunities that would otherwise aid their learning
5. Future studies may be conducted looking into the other possible variables that may have a significant relationship with problems in composition writing and other methods of determining the levels of writing proficiency.

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