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Contextualization of Basic Research Writing Skills:
Practical Research Backdropped in
English for Academic Purposes


· Volume I Issue IV

Traditionally, writing skills were taught in isolation and students were expected to transfer these writing skills in content subject areas without much difficulty. These expectations were found out to be problematic as they are not necessarily true, especially in writing research papers. Perin (2011) suggests contextualization of basic skills, which she defined as “an approach that creates explicit connections between teaching of reading and writing and instruction in a discipline area on the other” as a teaching strategy to address such problem. This paper attempts to test this concept of contextualization in Philippine setting by applying it in two senior high school subjects: English for Academic and Professional Purposes and Practical Research 1. Using thematic analysis, it was found out that Accountancy and Business Management students of Baguio City National High School find the strategy helpful, especially in conducting their research as required by their Practical Research subject. However, due to the teachers’ differences in style and lack of communication, students sometimes found themselves confused as to who to follow in proceeding with their research writing. Despite this, students still recommend that teachers use the strategy but that concerned parties must work on the delivery of the strategy. Perin’s concept of contextualization of basic skills, in this case basic research writing skills, is a workable teaching strategy as applied in English for Academic and Professional Purposes and Practical Research.

Keywords: Contextualization, contextualization of basic skills, English for Academic and Professional Purposes, Practical Research


Writing is a communication skill that students need to learn and enhance while they are in the academe. Traditionally, writing skills are taught in fragments and in isolation. For example, teachers would teach students how to write correct sentences and how to combine these written sentences to form paragraphs, then teach them to arrange these paragraphs following the correct and proper arrangement of the different parts of an essay to form a good essay. These writing skills taught are then expected by teachers to be easily transferred from one discipline into another. In the same manner, research writing skills such as citing references and summarizing are traditionally taught in isolation and students are expected to easily transfer these skills in writing research papers, which Perin (2011) claims to present three possible problems. First is that for some reasons that are yet unknown, students cannot necessarily transfer these writing skills in the other academic disciplines. Secondly, students may not be motivated to learn these writing skills because they do not find much relevance in relation to their personal goals. And lastly, students may not have fully mastered the necessary writing skills and the other subject area teachers leave this problem to the writing teacher alone because their focus is to teach the content and not the skill.

With the current emphasis on research and research writing, students who are not ready with the basic writing knowledge and skills may not be able to cope with the demands of this trend. Nevertheless, through the K to 12 Curriculum, which includes subjects two English writing subjects, Reading and Writing and English for Academic Purposes, and three research subjects, Practical Research 1 which requires a qualitative research, Practical Research 2 with a quantitative research output, and Inquiries, Investigations and Immersion that require a mixed-method research output about the immediate community, may be the avenue for teachers to bridge writing skills subjects and content-area subjects to address the problems earlier identified. Perin (2011) believes that contextualization may be the key to such problems. In her paper, she defined contextualization as “the teaching of basic skills in the context of disciplinary topic areas” (Perin 2011, 1). She also defined contextualization of basic skills as “an instructional approach that creates explicit connections between teaching of reading and writing […] and instruction in a discipline area on the other” (Perin 2011, 3). In the Department of Education, this kind of contextualization is authorized through DepEd Order Number 21 series of 2019 which states that the curriculum “shall use pedagogical approaches that are … collaborative … and integrative”.

This paper, then, is an attempt to test the effectiveness of Perin’s proposed concept of contextualization of basic skills as applied in the subjects English for Academic and Professional Purposes and Practical Research 1 of the Grade 11 Accountancy and Business Management students of Baguio City National High School – Senior High School. From this stand point, two main questions are formulated:

A) How do the students perceive the contextualization of English for Academic and Professional Purposes subject through the integration of the Practical Research subject, and
B) Why do the students perceive contextualization of English for Academic and Professional Purposes through the integration of Practical Research in that manner?

Review of Related Literature

Studies reviewed show that contextualization of basic skills do have positive effect on the overall learning achievement of the learners. For example, the working paper number 38 of Perin, Bork, et al. (2011), show that students who were exposed to contextualized science texts outperformed the students who were exposed to generic texts when it comes to summarizing. The authors conducted two experiments in two community colleges where the students were exposed to a 10-week intervention program to develop one of the deemed integral skills of students at that level, summarizing skills. The first experiment integrated texts from science textbooks and the second experiment used the texts from the developmental education textbooks they have. Greater gain was found from the first experiment in three aspects: “the proportion of main ideas from the source text included in the summary, accuracy and word count”. Results from the second experiment replicated the results from the first experiment but higher amounts of copying from the source text were evident. Perin, Bork, et al. (2011) extended their experiment to see the transfer of skills and they found out that the students who were exposed to the intervention with science texts outperformed the students who were given the generic texts from their developmental education textbooks. The authors concluded that this finding moderately support the use of contextualization in writing classes.

De La Paz and Felton’s (2010) experiment, on the other hand, paired instructions for social studies and persuasive writing in English language arts for eighth graders. Through modeling and guided practice, argumentative essays are taught using the materials that were used in their social studies class, which consisted of textbook passages and primary and secondary documents. Before the contextualized instruction in argumentative essay began, the students were asked to write a personal essay to ensure that the students do not have significant differences in their beginning writing competencies. The experimental group received specific instructions on historical reasoning and argumentative writing strategies using the social studies materials while the control group received no such instructions but they were asked to read same social studies texts. De La Paz and Felton (2010) found out that “essays written by students who received instruction (N = 81) were longer, were rated as having significantly greater historical accuracy, were significantly more persuasive, and claims and rebuttals within each argument became more elaborated” (De La Paz and Felton 2010, 174).

These researches, limited as they may be, provide evidences that this strategy is worth exploring, especially in other teachers’ and researchers’ contexts.

Research Framework

This study aims to explore contextualization of basic skills as an instructional strategy to facilitate the acquisition of the basic research writing skills by using the students’ Practical Research in teaching the needed skills as required in the English for Academic and Professional Purposes subject.

Contextual Teaching and Learning

Contextual Teaching and Learning (CTL) as a framework for teaching strategies is not really new but it still remains to be underutilized, especially in the Philippines. Contextual Teaching Learning situates content in context to create meaning.

In Johnson’s (2002) Contextual Teaching and Learning: What it is and Why it’s here to Stay, she hypothesizes that independence is non-existent as everything is a part of a web of relationships. This, accordingly, is how nature works. The term “context” in CTL, then, would pertain to the relationships that is in the learner’s environment while “meaning” is the result of the relationship between the content and the context. As she said, “context gives meaning to content… when ideas are experienced, used in context, they have meaning” (Johnson 2002, 3, 10).

In addition to Johnson’s discussion, Perin (2011) also claimed that contextualized basic skills “involves the teaching of academic skills against a backdrop of specific subject matter to which such skills need to be applied” (Perin 2011, 8). The primary focus of contextualized basic skills is not the subject matter or content but rather the acquisition and development of academic skills such as writing. As an illustration of the contextualized basic skills at work inside a classroom, if the writing skill to be developed is writing procedural essay and the class is an home economics class, the teacher can ask the students to write about what they have learned in any of their specialization classes such as Bread and Pastry Production or perhaps, Cookery. In this way, the content where the skill is applied on is concrete and more relevant to the students.


This section presents the research design, population and locale of the study, data collection instrument and data collection procedure.

Research Design

This study utilized the qualitative research design, specifically the thematic analysis. According to Braun and Clarke (2006, 6), thematic analysis is a “method for identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns (themes) within data”. Following this method, the data collected were transcribed, coded and thematized. The themes created were further interpreted to come up with the results of the study.

Participants and Locale

One section from Grade 11 Accountancy, Business and Management students of Baguio City National High School enrolled for the school year 2019-2020 are the chosen participants of this study. The researcher utililzed purposive sampling because the mentioned participants are believed to be a logical representative of the whole population.

Data Gathering Tool

The researcher came up with a six-item questionnaire that served as the data gathering tool. Its reliability was attested by a Master Teacher who had been teaching English for Academic Purposes for three years. Once it has been declared as reliable, the questionnaires were tested for validity in one Accountancy, Business and Management class. After having tested for reliability and validity, the questionnaires were floated to a total of forty actual participants from the chosen Accountancy, Business and Management section.

Results and Discussions

This paper aimed to find out how the students perceive the backgrounding of Practical Research (PR) in teaching English for Academic and Professional Purposes (EAPP) and find out the reasons why they see this teaching strategy as such. Analysis of the data gathered showed that students find this strategy to be very helpful. From the students’ answers, they have a hard time conducting their PR subject without EAPP. The reason for such implication lies in the skills set by the Curriculum Guides for both subjects. Looking at EAPP’s Curriculum Guide, the skills that are to be developed are all research skills, hence, making it quite apparent that students need to learn the skills in EAPP first before they can actually take on the courses of research. In support of this, Gooblar (2016) concluded in his article entitled Skills First, and Let Content Follow that teaching the skills first and then later on adding the content would be easier rather than the other way around.

Even if the students find the strategy helpful, an issue on which subject benefits most from the strategy arises. Based from the analyzed answers of the students, it was found out that this teaching strategy helped them better understand PR subject rather than the subject EAPP. Looking at this finding closely, one might say that PR benefits the most if this strategy will be used. However, the objectives of EAPP, as well as the skills that is being developed by the subject, would dictate that if the students are able to understand their PR because of EAPP, then it is not impossible to say that EAPP’s objectives have been met. The students’ ability to write the required research paper in PR is a result of successfully having gained these research skills from their EAPP subject. As it turns out, PR does benefit most from this teaching strategy but EAPP’s success is very dependent on whether students will be able to understand their PR enough to be able to produce a well-written research paper.

Aside from being helpful, students’ answers reveal that they find it is easier to handle the performance task outputs because they are related to or similar to both subjects. Defined Learning’s (2015, no. 6) online article discusses the characteristics of performance tasks and one of which is that performance tasks should “integrate two or more subjects as well as 21st century skills”. This characteristic works on the premise that the world outside the classroom are not neatly tucked into rigid boxes. The article suggests that one way to achieve this characteristic is to include research and other communication subjects into content areas such as social studies and science among others, or vice-versa for this study’s purposes.

In connection to their answer, it is also worth pointing out that every semester, students take at least nine subjects at a time. Even if these subjects do not require the students to submit requirements all at the same time, studies find out that too much requirements can have a negative impact on students overall well-being. Oxford Learning (2018) traced the sources of stress for students and too much homework and heavy workload belong to the top two and three respectively. Quebec Confederation for Engineering Student Outreach (2017) summarized and uploaded the results of their survey in an online PowerPoint Presentation which showed that the highest cause of stress for students is the heavy workload where the term ‘workload’ refers to the “number of assignments, simultaneous deadlines, required reading, etc.”. This strategy, when properly smoothed over with all the parties involved may be able to provide some relief for the students because it lessens what they need to accomplish within certain timeframes.

Despite these positive feedback, students revealed that since these two subjects have two different teachers with different teaching styles, teaching personalities and sometimes different interpretation of the contents, it is confusing for them. Further investigation into this matter discovered that sometimes, teachers have contradicting ideas on how a certain part of the paper should be developed. For instance, when students let their Statement of the Problems checked by their EAPP teacher, he or she will suggest a revision and the students willingly incorporate the suggestion in their paper. When they show the revised part to their PR teacher, he or she will say that they need to revert back to the original because it is better. This confusion among the students may be the teachers’ fault as students remark “Mag-usap po kayo ni Ma’am, kasi iba po ang sinasabi niyo sa sinasabi niya”, “Nakakalito din po minsan kasi merong pagkakaiba sa tinuturo”, or “Nalilito kami kung ano ba yung susundin namin, yung naturo ba sa PR o yung sa EAPP’. From the students’ statement, it is apparent that communication between the teachers involved is necessary to make the strategy effective.

Since the strategy is quite novel, it definitely has its lapses and it is the students who have to contend with these lapses. From the responses gathered, students innovate their own ways of coping with their perceived challenges. From the students’ answers, the commonly used coping strategy is asking questions, either to their classmates or groupmates or to the teachers. According to some of the students, if there are concepts that they do not understand, they ask their classmates or groupmates who understand it better. Other students said they prefer going to the teachers and asking them to explain the concepts again. Feedback from conversations with the students also reveal that if they find a task really confusing due to the differing views of the teachers involved, they refer back to what they have learned from their English subject when they were in the lower years.

Despite these challenges, students may have found some merit to the strategy because when they were asked if they would recommend for this strategy to be continued by the teachers, nobody said no. They all believe that with some work, the strategy will be able to work the way it is supposed to.


In conclusion, students perceive the contextualization of English for Academic and Professional Purposes subject using the Practical Research content to be quite helpful despite the challenges that come with it. As to the reasons why they see this strategy to be helpful, students believe that it makes it easier for them to understand one of the subjects by using what is taught in the other. They also believe that with the lessened workload from having similar activities for both subjects reduce their academic stress.

As any other teaching strategy, the students’ feedback is very essential and must be taken into great consideration for the improvement of the strategy to be able to ensure the delivery of quality education.


Based from the analyzed data, the following are recommended:
1. Teachers of both subject areas must coordinate and communicate to be able to make the strategy work better and to avoid confusion among the students.

2. Teachers must encourage students to ask questions to ensure that they understand both the skill and the concept taught.
3. Teachers teaching complementary subjects must identify requirements that can be lumped to help ease the students’ workload.
4. As much as possible in the scheduling of subjects, EAPP must come first before PR.
5. Administration and teachers must go over the curriculum guides and identify other complementary subjects like EAPP and PR and work out a way to integrate these subjects.
6. Student feedback on teaching strategies must be taken into consideration.