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An Evaluation of the Writing Skills of freshmen: The Case of the Faculties of Arts and Education

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Qualitative research
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Descriptive statistics
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This study sought to evaluate the writing skills of freshmen or 200 level students in the Faculties of Arts and Education, University of Buea. It also sought to find out the progress made after having taken the Use of English course.

Data was collected from a self-assessment of writing skill scripts of some selected students (quantitative research design as it is cross-selection ally conducted). This study shows that the students need to improve on their writing skills especially those in the Department of English, CST/ English and Linguistics.

From the result recorded, one will suggest that students should practice writing during their free time back at home. With this, they will gradually get used to carrying out a writing activity. Lastly, Higher education should address the special role it has to play in improving writing.

All prospective teachers, no matter their discipline, should be provided with the courses on how to teach writing. Meanwhile, writing instruction in colleges and universities should be improved for all students.


Background to Study

The four main skills of the English language are reading, listening, speaking and writing. A person needs a mastery of various elements to use the language to convey the thought, wishes, intention, feeling and information in written form (Pamela 1991).

Writing is the productive skill of a language. Students start learning to communicate through writing as they begin to interact with others at school. The writing skill is more complicated than other language skills and basically requires a well-structured way of presentation of thoughts in an organized way.

Out of the four fundamental language skills in the language learning process, writing is accepted as being the last language skills to be acquired for native speakers as well as foreign and second language learners.

It is generally considered the most difficult of the skills for foreign and second language learners. Even native speakers feel difficulty in showing good command of writing.

It is common knowledge that the performances of Anglophone secondary school students in English language both in everyday communication and examination have experienced a decline over the years.

The climax was the poor performance reregistered in the G.C.E O/L English language examination of 2014 where there was a meagre of 13% success for a subject which constitutes a basic university entry for many Anglo-Saxon based universities.

With these poor performances, therefore, they are alleged to have a poor writing skill which has become a call for concern (Ngwe, 2016).

Writing has always been seen as an important skill in English language acquisition. This importance is due to the fact that it reinforces grammatical structures and vocabulary that learners seek to attain.

It is the area in which learners need to be offered adequate time to develop their writing skills; therefore, more time should be devoted to it in classrooms with English language learners so that they will be prepared to effectively communicate in real life as well as academic situation (Ismail 2007).

Few students write spontaneously and feel comfortable with a formal writing task intended for the others. Time pressure is often an unrealistic constraint for extended writing and timed essay is not normally done outside of academic life.

For people, the writing process is lengthier and involves several tasks before the final version is produced. This study, therefore, seeks to explore if and how freshmen can grow out of the aforementioned difficulties involved in academic writing.

Study Area University of Buea

The University of Buea (UB) is located in the historic town of Buea on Mount Cameroon. It was founded as a full-fledged university in 1993 and is one of the two English-speaking universities in Cameroon, alongside the University of Bamenda which follows the British system of education.

The mission of the University of Buea is to provide opportunities for quality education through teaching and research in an environment that is conducive to such quests and in ways that respond to market forces. Its teaching and research

Programs emphasize relevance, encourage tolerance and promote creative, critical and independent thinking. The University of Buea has seven faculties: Arts, Education, Social and Management Sciences, Science, Health Science,

Engineering and Technology, and Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture. Apart from these Faculties, UB has three Schools or College that is, the College of Technology, Advanced School of Translators and Interpreters and the Higher Technical Teachers Training College located in Kumba.

Statement of Problem

In Cameroon, teaching English as a second language has always been a part of our educational tasks. At first, it was taught only in primary and secondary school levels of education. In 2014, it was introduced as one of the subjects at G.C.E Advanced Level. 

Despite the teaching of English in secondary and high schools, I have observed that most students who are often admitted into the University of Buea have very poor, bad or disorganized writing skills.

With this, therefore, I want to evaluate the writing skills of freshmen in the Faculties of Arts and Education at the University of Buea and the progress they make as they take the use of English course.

Objectives of the Study

  • To examine the standard writing skills of freshmen in the Faculty of Arts and Education at the University of Buea.
  • To evaluate the writing strength of 200 level students in the Faculties Arts and Education.
  • To create an awareness of the importance of good writing skills with respect to academic writing.

An Evaluation of the Writing Skills of freshmen: The Case of the Faculties of Arts and Education

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