Difficulties in Developing Idea Encountered by Students in Writing Argumentative Essay

Cindy Mutiara Saprina, Abdul Rosyid, Yanti Suryanti


Writing is one of the most important skills that have to be mastered in the art of language learning. In the university level, EFL students have essay writing subject that requires them to write many types of essay, among those being the argumentative essay. In writing an essay, they need to be able to develop their own original ideas, despite the fact that some of them still consider this a difficult task. This research is aimed to highlight set of difficulties encountered by students that are assigned to develop ideas whilst writing argumentative essay. This research was conducted at Pakuan University and involved 23 students as participant of this study. Qualitative method and descriptive analysis are applied in conducting this research. To gain the research data, three research instruments were used, they are: documentation, questionnaire and interview. Documentation instrument was used to analyze students work of argumentative essay. The questionnaire was administered to all participants and the interview was conducted once for each student. This study reveals that the students still have some difficulties in constructing thesis statement, organizing paragraph, making writing coherent and combining ideas in correct sentences. Finally, the result of this research may urge the students to improve their writing skills and provide the teachers to explore more on teaching writing practices.


The sentences in blue are the thesis statement from the essay. By seeing those figures, it can be stated that both thesis statements are inappropriate because the students did not take a stand or position on the issue while the topic of the essay she requires the students to state whether they are pro or cons.

The result of the questionnaire supports the findings from the documents. Almost of students (77, 3%) admitted that they cannot construct the thesis statement properly in writing an essay. Then, in constructing the thesis statement, the students also found difficulties since they still feel confused in determining the position and the words related to the topic.

The next difficulty found was organizing paragraph. It was proved from data of documentation that indicates 35% of students could not organize their paragraph well. The following figure will show the evidence dealing with students problem in organizing paragraph.

Fig 3. Students Problem in Organizing Paragraph

The above figure shows that each paragraph does not support the thesis statement. Moreover, paragraph two has only two sentences, meaning, it is not a complete paragraph. It also appeared in the last paragraph that only has two sentences. It means the student still had no idea how to organize the paragraph correctly.

The result of the questionnaire also discovered that more than half (64, 3%) of students admitted that they cannot organize the ideas logically. Some students could not organize their paragraph well because they feel difficult to make the paragraph supported by the thesis.

Another difficulty was making writing coherent. Based on the data from documentation, this one becomes the major difficulty that students faced since there are 91% of students are not able to make their writing coherent. It is also supported from the fifth statement in questionnaire showed that more than half (66%) of students acknowledge that they cannot develop their ideas coherently and cohesively when writing an essay. The following table is the evidence.

Table 1. Students Problems in Making Paragraph Coherent

Somehow, making writing coherent is absolutely necessary to be done to avoid readers confusion. However, they still cannot make their writing coherent because they cannot use transition or pronoun properly since it deals with those things. It is proved when the students stated they feel confused in using proper transition.

The last difficulty found was combining ideas to become correct sentences. In order to combine the clauses into correct sentences, the use of conjunction is needed. However, some students still considered it as a difficulty since from data gathered from documentation there are 48% students could not use the conjunctions properly. In addition, in the eighth statement in questionnaire showed that more than half (65, 2%) of students claim that they cannot use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions properly in combining the sentences. It is because some of students do not fully understand to use proper conjunction to link the sentences.

Table 2. Students difficulties in combining ideas into correct sentences.

The result of interview also acknowledged that the students find it difficult to select appropriate conjunction to link the clauses into meaningful and logical sentences.

As the conclusion, by the result of this research, it was showed that there were some difficulties in developing idea encountered by students in writing an argumentative essay. It is because they could not follow the principle of developing idea in writing an essay. The first difficulty was constructing thesis statement. It is considered difficulty is because according to Troyka and Hesse [9] stated that a thesis statement should consist of claim which is an expression of a point of view on debatable topic and it supported by evidence but some students did not do it while writing an essay.


This research was conducted to the fourth semester students of essay writing class in Faculty of Teacher Training and Educational Sciences, Pakuan University. It was conducted to find out students difficulty in developing idea in writing argumentative essay. In conducting this research, three instruments for gaining the data were occupied. They are documentation, questionnaire and interview. The data were gained by analyzing students work, distributing questionnaire and interviewing some selected participants.

After conducting this research some difficulties encountered by students in developing idea when they wrote argumentative essay were discovered. The most difficulties faced by students is making coherent followed by constructing thesis statement, combining ideas in correct sentences and organizing paragraph. It can be concluded that when the students write argumentative essay, developing main idea still becomes a major problem for them.


Ka-kan-de, Maleerat. 2015. Analyzing EFL Students Argumentative Writing Difficulties and Teaching Strategies Employed Lecturers in Selected University in Thailand. Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Harris, Allieni., Ansyar, Mohd., & Radjab, Desmawati. 2014. An Analysis of Students Difficulties in Writing Recount Text at Tenth Grade of SMAN 1 Sungai Limau. Journal English Language Teaching, 2 (1).

Richards, Jack C. & Renandya, Willy A. 2002. Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Farooq. S., Hassan. U., & Wahid. S. 2012. Opinion of Second Language Learners about Writing Difficulties in English Language. A Research Journal of South Asian Studies. Vol. 27, No.1.p

Harmer, Jeremy. 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching.

London: Longman Group Ltd.

Strakey, Lauren. 2004. How to Write Great Essays. New York: Learning Express.

Lee, G.L., 2009. Writing an Academic Essay in Communicating in the University Culture. Singapore: Centre for English Language Communcation, National University of Singapore.

Creswell, John W. 2012. Educational Research. Boston: Pearson.

Troyka, Lynn Q., & Hesse, Douglas. 2009. Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers (6th Ed). Canada: Pearson.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.55215/jetli.v3i1.3419 Abstract views : 2131 views : 590


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 JETLi | Journal of English Language Teaching and Linguistics Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.