The Decline of Students’ Writing Skills: Causes and Outcomes
Writing is still the most common form of evaluating students’ achievements. You must write term papers, coursework, theses, and dissertations to prove that the teachers’ effort did not go to waste, and that you can acquire knowledge on your own. But something did go to waste, as more and more teachers begin to realize that they spend more time fixing grammar mistakes than focusing on the information related to topic of the work. So, what happened?
If the problem keeps getting worse, maybe it’s high time to get to the bottom of it and find out the reasons for weak writing skills.
Statistics on Student Writing Skills
Numerous studies have been taken involving writing skills of grade-school to college age students.
Annual reports from the National Center for Education Statistics show that the SAT mean scores in writing have dropped from 497 to 484 in 9 years (2006 – 2015). It’s already bad that the score is decreasing, but it also never stayed the same two years in a row during this period. Therefore, we can assume that the SAT result in writing will continue to decrease at the same rate.
The same statistics show that SAT reading scores have also decreased in the same way. This also contributes to poor writing skills, particularly where analyzing and synthesizing sources is required.
Causes of Students’ Poor Writing Skills
Many teachers think that the main reason for poor writing is social media. Student paper writing seems to have shrunk to 140 characters in Twitter. But if you think about it, shouldn’t these 140 characters teach young people how to express their thoughts concisely? Maybe the problem is not in the communication services that they use, but rather because they were never taught how to think and write properly.
Actually, the basis of the problem lies in the limited skill set students get from secondary and high school education. They were not taught what they are required straight after entering college. Most of the time, high school students don’t get to do anything more than argue an opinion in their essays. Analyzing and synthesizing information are neglected.
Another point to consider is that more and more students are becoming reticent about sharing something personal, including their point of view on an essay topic.
Possible Outcomes and Solutions
Poor writing skills influence both employers and their prospective employees. Employers waste hundreds of dollars on training; that is, when they can attract applicants. If you’ve ever searched the job market, you’ve seen the error-filled job descriptions. Those vacancies are certainly not too appealing.
On the other hand, if you’re a student looking for a job, writing skills are essential in writing a believable resume or cover letter. And in the future work place, you’ll have to write reports, business letters, and maybe even press-releases. This means you have to be prepared before you even start searching for a job.
Writing is a way to communicate your thoughts, feelings and opinions. It’s an essential skill in everyday life, as well. Grade school should be the place to lay the basis for such skills. Considering that students come to colleges and universities unprepared, the grade school system should be altered to raise interest in writing and to develop the basic required knowledge for literacy.
In the end, students should be encouraged to write rather than criticized. It’s one thing to evaluate grammar and structure, but if students feel like their personal opinions are evaluated, they’ll be hesitant to express them. Unfortunately, this is what grade school education is lacking today – freedom of expression.