An analysis of the most commonly committed errors in essay writing and their relationship with students' achievement: Jimma university in focus
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The aim of this research was to analyze the most commonly committed essay writing errors. Three hundred fifty seven samples participated in this study were non English major second year students who were taken as a class unit from six randomly selected departments. Students' errors were collected via essay writing test, and analyzed quantitatively using SPSS 16.0 and ranked according to the mean value of each error. From the study, 7859 errors were found from sample students' essays. Furthermore, a questionnaire was administered to obtain further data about students' writing errors and their possible sources. The data gained through essay writing test and questionnaires were analyzed quantitatively using SPSS 16.0 software. Students' responses for open ended questions were summarized and listed. Analytical scoring guidelines and numerical scores were used to mark the essays and group students into three achievement levels. It was found that the ten most common errors that the participants made were word choice, missing /extra/ wrong article, verb-missing, sentence fragments, missing /extra/ wrong preposition, run-on sentences, word form errors, misplaced/dangling modifiers, and subject verb agreement errors. Furthermore, the frequency of errors and students' achievement in essay writing were computed and the Pearson correlation coefficient revealed that there is a negative relationship between frequency of writing errors and students' essay writing fluency. The findings of this study revealed that the errors students made might have resulted from poor vocabulary knowledge, mother tongue interference, false hypothesis, ignorance of the correct sentence patterns of English structures and lack of knowledge in grammatical rules, avoidance strategies, and students' motivation and attitude. The attempts made to highlight some of the possible causes of those errors might. lead to the solution to inform teachers lessen those errors, and the findings may also enable students to be aware of the problematic areas in writing and prevent such errors and shape their learning strategies accordingly.