Investigating Paragraph Writing Skills among Polytechnic Students: The Case of Kumasi Polytechnic
International Journal of Language and Linguistics
Volume 3, Issue 3, May 2015, Pages: 145-153
Received: Mar. 25, 2015; Accepted: Apr. 25, 2015; Published: May 12, 2015
Views 5904      Downloads 164
Kwasi Sarfo-Adu, Department of Liberal Studies, Kumasi Polytechnic, Kumasi, Ghana
Article Tools
Follow on us
Paragraphs are the building blocks of essays. A sound knowledge of paragraph structuring leads to well-written and readable essays. On the contrary, a lack of paragraph writing skills culminates into a farrago of ideas scattered haphazardly in the essay, thereby affecting paragraph unity and coherence, which in turn impacts negatively on the packaging of ideas in the essay. This study has been prompted by my observation over the years of paragraph construction difficulties polytechnic students face in their academic writing, and also the paucity of research in polytechnic writing. As a result, this paper set to investigate how students structure their paragraphs in terms of topic sentence use and support sentences. A corpus of 120 essays was collected from four departments in Kumasi Polytechnic, Kumasi, Ghana and using Bain’s paragraph principles as a benchmark to analyse them, the results revealed that 66% of the essays employed definite paragraph format. The study also found numerous one-sentence paragraphs leading to the creation of indentations, with reckless abandon. The results of the study have implications for the teaching of writing skills in polytechnics.
Paragraph, Topic Sentence, Support Sentence, Indentation, Controlling Idea
To cite this article
Kwasi Sarfo-Adu, Investigating Paragraph Writing Skills among Polytechnic Students: The Case of Kumasi Polytechnic, International Journal of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 3, No. 3, 2015, pp. 145-153. doi: 10.11648/j.ijll.20150303.16
Abubakar, H.A. (2014), Challenges of Globalization in Teaching of English of Use of English in Nigerian Polytechnics, IOSR Journal of Humanities and social Science, Vol. 19, Issue II, 23-27.
Adika, G.S.K (1999), An Analysis of University Students’ Expository Discourse, Unpublished Ph D Dissertation, University of Ghana.
Afful, J.B.A. (2005), A Rhetorical Analysis of Examination Essays in Three Disciplines: The Case of Ghanaian Undergraduate Students, Unpublished Ph D Thesis, National University of Singapore.
Alred, G. J. et al. (2012), The Business Writer’s Handbook, 10th ed. Bedford: St. Martins.
Angus, J. (1862), Handbook of the English Tongue, London: Religious Tract Society.
Anyidoho, L.A. (2002), Analysis of the Writing of Final Year University Students, Ghanaian Journal of English Studies, 1. 58-72.
Bain, A. (1886), English Composition and Rhetoric, New York: Appleton.
Ballard, B. and Clanchy, J. (1998), “Literacy in the University: Anthropological Approach. In G.Taylor, S. West and P. Nightingale (eds), Literacy by Degrees, Oxford: Milton Keyness, Oxford University Press.
Bond, S. J. & Hayes J.R. (1984), “Cues people use to paragraph text”, Research in the Teaching of English, 18, 147-167.
Bowman, D. (2009), “The One-Sentence Paragraph,” Retrieved on 15 July 2014 One-Sentence-Paragraph &id=2055870.
Braddock (1974), “The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentences in Expository Prose,” Research in the Teaching of English, 8, 287-302.
Brown, G. & Yule G. (1986), Discourse Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Bunton, D. (2005), The Structure of Ph D Conclusion Chapters, Journal of English for Academic Purposes (3) 207-224.
Chan, P.K. (1994) coherence in the Writing of Engineering Undergraduates in Singapore, Unpublished MA Dissertation, National University of Singapore.
D’Angelo, F. J. (1986), ‘The Topic Sentence Revisited”, College Composition and Communication, Vol. 37, N0 4.
Duncan, M. (2007), “Whatever Happened to the Paragraph?” College English, 470-475.
Edwin, L. H. (2006), History of the English Paragraph Retrieved June 30, 2012 from english00lewirich.
Gogovi, G.A.K. et al. (2004) Communicative Skills, Cape Coast, University Printing Press.
Hinds, J.(1977), “Paragraph Structure and Pronominalisation” Papers in Linguistics, Vol. 10,Issue 1-2.
Grimes, J. (1975),The Thread of Discourse, Mouton, The Hague Juzwiak, K. (2009), Stepping Stones: A Guided Approach to Writing Sentences and Paragraphs, New York, St. Martins.
Lee, J.A.(1998), Substance, Style and Strategy, Oxford University Press.
Li, H. (2012) “Research of Workplace English Teaching Model in Polytechnic College”, International Conference on Economic Management and Engineering Technology, Lecture Notes in Information Technology, Vol. 18.
Nichol, M. (2008), “How long should a paragraph be?” Retrieved on July 15 2014
Njoku, M.C. (1977), The Paragraph, In Oluikpe. B.O.A (Ed.) The Use of English for Higher Education, Onitsha, Africana-Fep Publishers Ltd. 209-230.
Pardede, P (2012), “Major Supporting Sentence”, Retrieved Jul. 10, 2014
Popken, R. L. (1987), “A Study of Topic Sentence Use in Academic Writing”, Written Communication, 4 (2), 209-228.
Rasheed, S. A. et. Al. (2013), Paragraph Inner Structure: The Step Model, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 3, N0 12, 165-172.
Rodgers, P. C. (1965), “Alexander Bain and the Rise of the Organic Paragraph.” Quarterly of Speech 51 ,399-408.
Santhi, G. (2011), problems of teaching English in mixed ability classroom at polytechnic levelin India, IETEC Conference paper, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sekyi-Baidoo, Y. (2003), Learning and Communicating (2nd ed.), Accra, Infinity Graphics Ltd.
Shaojun, J. (2008), “What do paragraph divisions indicate in narrative text?” Journal of Pragmatics, 29: 57-74.
Shearer, N. A. (2009), “Alexander Bain and the Genesis of Paragraph Theory” DOI:1080/00335637209383139, Retrieved July 4, 2014.
Smith, C. (2008), “Braddock Revisited: The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentence in Academic Writing”, The Reading Matrix Vol. 8, N0 1.
Sporleder, C. & Lapata M. (2004) “Automatic Paragraph Identification: A Study across Languages and Domains” Conference Paper, Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Barcelona, 25 – 26 July.
Stark, H.A. (1988), “What do paragraph markings do?” Discourse Processes, 11, 275-303.
Warriner, J.E.(1982), English Grammar and Composition, New York, HBJ Publishers Webster’s Universal Dictionary and Thesaurus (2003).
Wilson, D. (1998), Discourse, coherence and relevance: A reply to Rachel Giora, Journal of Pragmatics, 29, 57-74.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186