An analysis of student and instructor perceptions of students' writing skills at the university level

Gail L Hart, Florida International University


This study examined university students' writing skills as perceived by university students and their English instructors. The goal of the study was to provide English instructors with objective, quantified information about writing perceptions from both the students' and instructors' viewpoints. ^ A survey instrument was developed based on a survey instrument created by Newkirk, Cameron, and Selfe (1977) to identify instructors' perceived knowledge of student writing skills. The present study used a descriptive statistical design. It examined five writing skill areas: attitude, content, grammar and mechanics, literary considerations, and the writing process through a questionnaire completed by a convenience sample of summer and fall admitted freshmen who were enrolled in Essay Writing and Freshman Composition courses and English Department instructors at a large South Florida public university. ^ The study consisted of five phases. The first phase was modifying of the Newkirk, Cameron, and Selfe (1977) questionnaire. Two versions of the revised survey were developed - one for instructors and one for students. The second phase was pilot testing the questionnaire for evaluation of administration and scoring. The third phase was administering the questionnaire to 1,280 students and 48 instructors. The fourth phase was analyzing the data. The study found a significant difference in the perceptions of students and instructors in all areas of writing skills examined by the survey. Responses to 29 of 30 questions showed that students felt they had better attitudes toward writing and better writing skills than instructors thought. ^ The final phase was developing recommendations for practice. Based on findings and theory and empirical evidence drawn from the fields of adult education and composition research, learner-centered, self-directed curriculum guidelines are offered. ^ By objectively quantifying student and instructor perceptions of students' writing skills, this study contributes to a growing body of literature that: (a) encourages instructors to acknowledge the perception disparities between instructors and students; (b) gives instructors a better understanding of how to communicate with students; and (c) recommends the development of new curriculum, placement tests, and courses that meet the needs of students and enables English instructors to provide meaningful instruction. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Hart, Gail L, "An analysis of student and instructor perceptions of students' writing skills at the university level" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249705.