Improving students' essay writing skills using a task-based approach – action research

Academic writing is a skill many Indonesian students find challenging. Therefore, a more structured way of teaching academic writing is needed. This presentation will outline how students’ essay writing skills in Writing 4 Class were improved using a task-based approach where a learning log and conferencing activity were used to improve learning quality. Categorized as classroom action research, this study was divided into 3 cycles. The procedures consisted of planning, action, and observation and reflection. The instruments used were observation and interview guides, portfolios, assessment rubrics and camera. The data collected using observation and in-depth interviews were guaranteed using democratic, process, dialogic, outcome and catalytic validity. Results show that both learning logs and conferencing help students improve their essay writing competencies especially in terms of content, text structure, logical division, and punctuation. Learning logs helped students increase their reflective thinking skills. Conferencing gave students not only an opportunity to experience real life tasks but also to see how the skills studied in class may benefit their future career. Another significant finding is that the students became more aware of plagiarism issues and acquired the skills to avoid plagiarism in writing their essays.

Zulystiawati has a M.Educational Leadership & Managment and is an English lecturer in Gorontalo University, Indonesia. She studied Leadership and Management at Flinders University, Australia and she is now a Research by higher Degree student in the school of Education, Flinders University.