The possible factors that influence students' English writing in a distance education context

Yudi Efendi
Universitas Terbuka

Universitas Terbuka (UT), a distance education institution in Indonesia, offers an undergraduate programme on English Language and Literature in Translation. This paper draws on the writer's dissertation entitled 'Analysing Students' Grammar Mistakes in Applying the Simple Past Tense in a Distance Education Context.' The research investigates the possible factors that influence students' English writing skills in their examination for Writing II. The primary data were taken from students' examination papers, and interviews were used as secondary data. The author divided the interviewees into two groups: those with low marks and those with high marks. The data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The 41 students' examination papers showed that they made the following mistakes in their writing: incorrect verb (31.6%), double verbs (4.5%), present verb (1.6%), past participle verb (0.5%), infinitive verb (0.4%), no verb (3.6%), no subject (0.6%), and incorrect adverbs of time (0.1%). The interviews revealed that the main possible reasons for making these errors were: 'no group discussion' and 'not joining the course's online tutorials.' On the basis of this study, it is recommended that UT should motivate and encourage its students to join group discussions and/or the course's online tutorials.