Assessing Argumentative Essay–Writing Skills of Nepali Tertiary EFL Learners

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Abstract

Intended to explore the status and potential areas of improvement of argumentative writing skills among graduate students of Nepal, this study assessed forty-seven argumentative essays written by graduate students majoring in English. Those essays were selected purposively, evaluated by multiple instructors, and analyzed by the researchers after developing inclusive and comprehensive rubrics that included both higher-order concerns (HOCs) and lower-order concerns (LOCs) vis-a-vis academic writing. The results revealed that the students’ writing skills in demonstrating the essay’s core elements were better than those of linguistics and technical aspects. It also showed that the students performed above the median score in all rubrics; however, it showed a significant performance gap among the students with regard to some of the parameters. Similarly, as per the qualitative findings, the students often conventionally used the core elements in terms of their placement and orders and relied more on the templates, although the study identified variations in expressions. The study concluded that although students performed well in major aspects of argumentation, they need more continuous support and formative feedback during the writing process to strengthen their argumentative writing skills. It also provided insights among the instructors about teaching writing skills to graduate students whose first language is not English.