An investigation of accuracy in the written English of upper secondary vocational school students
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- Student papers (HF-IKS) 
This quantitative and qualitative study investigates the accuracy in students’ written English at the second level of upper secondary vocational education. The research is based on an analysis of 190 creative texts written by 95 students in one upper secondary school during the autumn and spring semesters of one school year. The texts were timed and written on computers at school. The distribution and frequency of mistakes in nine different mistake categories were measured: spelling, concord, wrong word, wrong verb tense, missing words, wrong word order, wrong form, punctuation, and upper or lower case letter mistakes. The texts were divided into three corpora based on different correction strategies used by the teachers of students in different vocational areas of specialisation. The analysis also aimed to examine to what extent the students made any progress in the accuracy of their written English from the autumn to the spring and which correction method was the most favourable. Three teachers were interviewed about, for example, their attitudes to students’ mistakes and the correction strategies they used. The background chapters present different approaches to learning a second language, views and research on conscious and subconscious learning, attitudes and research on grammar instruction, an overview of English curricula in Norwegian schools, the role of the textbook in English language teaching, the effects of computers on written accuracy and teacher qualifications. One chapter deals with learner language, mistakes and errors, correction and feedback and a review of studies of accuracy. The findings showed that all three groups made progress in accuracy from the autumn to the spring with an average of 25 per cent fewer mistakes in the spring. The group with the greatest reduction of mistakes (31%) used a correction method which was a combination of direct correction and underlining. The analysis also showed that spelling and wrong word mistakes were the most frequent in the autumn, whereas there were fewest mistakes in the word order category. The spelling category was still the largest in two of the groups in the spring, whereas word order was the largest in the third group. Otherwise there was some movement in the other categories compared to the autumn. In the discussion, the results were linked to the effects of correction and feedback and to the effects of using computers in order to promote accuracy. They were also seen in relation to different issues concerning English as a foreign language in Norwegian schools, such as previous attention to mistakes at the primary and lower secondary levels, extensive reading, students’ motivation for learning English, teacher qualifications, the national curricula and exposure to the target language. Considering the low level of accuracy in general in written English when students enter upper secondary vocational education, recommendations for changes in English language teaching in primary and lower secondary school were discussed.
Master's thesis in Literacy studies