Detected Difficulties in Argumentative Writing: The Case of Culturally and Linguistically Saudi Backgrounded Students

Abstract views: 3501 / PDF downloads: 992


  • Burhan Ozfidan Texas A&M University Prince Sultan University
  • Connie Mitchell Prince Sultan University



Argumentative Essays, English Learners, Language Development, Second Language Writing, Writing Approach.


Argumentative writing is a mode of academic writing and a common writing genre that college-level students use at universities. The purpose of the study is to investigate common difficulties that affect the second language learners’ argumentative wiring. The significance of the study is to explore the struggles that culturally and linguistically Saudi backgrounded students face in writing argumentative essays to provide insights that could be used to improve instruction and student performance. The researchers examined 187 Saudi students’ (100 male and 87 female) argumentative writings to explore the frequency of the common difficulties students might encounter with writing argumentative essays. The second phase of the study included independent-samples t-test to statistically compare differences between male and female students’ difficulties in writing an argumentative essay. Anticipated results of the study lent to the improvement of the writing courses. The findings of the study statistically revealed the common difficulties of writing argumentative essays: organization/structure, thesis statement, integrating academic sources, finding evidence, writing counterclaims, writing refutation paragraph, academic tone, and content and development. The instructors of argumentative writing courses (or closely related courses) may accordingly want to change the structure of the course design, teaching strategies, and course materials to develop their courses efficiently.


Download data is not yet available.


Al-Jamal, D., & Zennou, B. (2018). EFL culture in practice: Algeria as a model. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 5(2), 29-42. DOI:

Al‐Haq, F. A. A., & Ahmed, A. S. (1994). Discourse problems in argumentative writing. World Englishes, 13(3), 307-323. DOI:

Allen, L. K., Likens, A. D., & McNamara, D. S. (2019). Writing flexibility in argumentative essays: A multidimensional analysis. Reading & Writing, 32(6), 1607-1634. DOI:

Atkinson, D. (2018). Theory in second language writing. In The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (pp. 1-6). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. DOI:

Aydin, H., & Ozfidan, B. (2014). Perceptions on mother tongue (Kurdish) based multicultural and bilingual education in Turkey. Multicultural Education Review, 6(1), 21-48. DOI:

Beckett, G. H., & Kobayashi, M. (2020). A Meta-study of an Ethnographic Research in a Multicultural and Multilingual Community: Negotiations, Resources, and Dilemmas. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 4(1), 85-106. DOI:

Boykin, A., Evmenova, A. S., Regan, K., & Mastropieri, M. (2019). The impact of a computer-based graphic organizer with embedded self-regulated learning strategies on the argumentative writing of students in inclusive cross-curricula settings. Computers & Education, 137, 78-90. DOI:

Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2014). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Psychology Press. DOI:

Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design qualitative and quantitative approaches. Sage Publisher.

Eckes, T. (2008). Rater types in writing performance assessments: A classification approach to rater variability. Language Testing, 25(2), 155–185. DOI:

Granger, S., & Tyson, S. (1996). Connector usage in the English essay writing of native and non‐native EFL speakers of English. World Englishes, 15(1), 17-27. DOI:

Hyland, K. (2008). Second language writing. Cambridge University Press.

Hyland, K. (June 1990). A genre description of the argumentative essay. RELC Journal, 21(1), 66-78. DOI:

Lam, Y. W., Hew, K. F., & Chiu, K. F. (2018). Improving argumentative writing: Effects of a blended learning approach and gamification. Language Learning & Technology, 22(1), 97-118.

Lee, J. J. & Deakin, L. (2016). Interactions in L1 and L2 undergraduate student writing: Interactional metadiscourse in successful and less-successful argumentative essays. Journal of Second Language Writing, 33, 21-34. DOI:

May, C., & Finch, T. (2009). Implementing, embedding, and integrating practices: An outline of normalization process theory. Sociology, 43(3), 535-554. DOI:

McHugh, M. L. (2012). Interrater reliability: The kappa statistic. Biochemia Medica, 22(3), 276-282. DOI:

Morris, J. A., Miller, B. W., Anderson, R. C., Nguyen-Jahiel, K. T., Lin, T. J., Scott, T., Zhang, J., Sun, J. & Ma, S. (2018). Instructional discourse and argumentative writing. International Journal of Educational Research, 90, 234-247. DOI:

Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill.

Ong, J. & Zhang, L. J. (2010). Effects of task complexity on the fluency and lexical complexity in EFL students’ argumentative writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 19, 218-233. DOI:

Ozfidan, B., & Burlbaw, L. M. (2019). A Literature-Based Approach on Age Factors in Second Language Acquisition: Children, Adolescents, and Adults. International Education Studies, 12(10). DOI:

Ozfidan, B., Machtmes, K. L., & Demir, H. (2014). Socio-cultural factors in second language learning: A case study of adventurous adult language learners. European Journal of Educational Research, 3(4), 185-191. DOI:

Rahmatunisa, W. (2014). Problems faced by EFL learners in writing argumentative essays. English Review: Journal of English Education, 3(1), 41-49.

Rubiaee, M., Alkhalek, A., Darus, S., & Abu Bakar, N. (2020). The effect of writing knowledge on EFL students’ ability in composing argumentative essays. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ). 10(2), 25-39. DOI:

Schneer, D. (2014). Rethinking the argumentative essay. TESOL Journal, 5(4). DOI:

Shahriari, H., & Shadloo, F. (2019). Interaction argumentative essays: The case of engagement. Discourse & Interaction, 12(1), 96-110. DOI:

Thompson, B. (1992). Two and one‐half decades of leadership in measurement and evaluation. Journal of Counseling & Development, 70(3), 434-438. DOI:

Victori, M. (1999). An analysis of writing knowledge in EFL composing: A case study of two effective and two less effective writers. System, 27(4), 537-555. DOI:

Vögelin, C., Jansen, J., Kellar, S. D., Machts, N., & Möller, J. (2019). The influence of lexical features on teacher judgements of ESL argumentative essays. Assessing Writing. 39, 50-63. DOI:

Wind, S. & Walker, A. A. (2019). Exploring the correspondence between traditional score resolution methods and person fit indices in rater-mediated writing assessments. Assessing Writing, 39, 25-38. DOI:

Wolfe, C. R., Britt, M. A., & Butler, J. A. (2009). Argumentation schema and the myside bias in written argumentation. Written Communication, 26(2), 183-209. DOI:

Zarrabi, F., & Bozorgian, H. (2020). EFL students’ cognitive performance during argumentative essay writing: A log-file data analysis. Computers and Composition, 55, 102546. DOI:

Zhao, C. G. (2017). Voice in timed L2 argumentative essay writing. Assessing Writing, 31, 73-83. DOI:

Zhu, W. (2001). Performing Argumentative writing in English: Difficulties, processes, and strategies. TESL Canada Journal, 19(1), 34-50. DOI:




How to Cite

Ozfidan, B., & Mitchell, C. (2020). Detected Difficulties in Argumentative Writing: The Case of Culturally and Linguistically Saudi Backgrounded Students. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 7(2), 15–29.



Original Manuscript
Received 2020-06-14
Accepted 2020-06-15
Published 2020-07-11