Instructors and students are the pillars of higher education. There is substantial interest in teachers’ beliefs, preferences, and perceptions in language assessment research, with an emphasis on writing assessment. Additionally, there is a growing body of research investigating students’ perceptions of assessment. However, research that examines how students perceive writing assessment is limited. Therefore, this study investigates two aspects: (a) students’ perceptions of their writing ability and (b) their perceptions of writing assessment in an English-medium private university in Cairo. This study adopts a mixed-methods approach for data collection, which involved distributing student questionnaires, conducting semi-structured interviews, and collecting writing samples from the participants. The participants were selected through convenience sampling, in which L2 participants were randomly selected from two English programs at the American University in Cairo. A sample of participants (n=73) responded to the questionnaire. The questionnaires were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Six semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of students’ perceptions of writing quality and writing assessment. The interviews were textually analyzed through coding using content analysis by two coders. These interviews were conducted based on the participants’ interest. The writing samples were analyzed quantitatively; they were first scored by two raters using a holistic rubric for grading the participants’ overall L2 writing quality, and the average score of both raters was calculated. These samples were then analyzed utilizing the descriptors included in the holistic rubric. The results of this study indicated that students perceived themselves to be either mid-range writers or professional ones. Most of the participants enjoyed writing and believed it to be one of the easiest, most crucial skills in higher education. Furthermore, a connection was found between the writing prompt and the students’ writing quality. If the topic addressed the students’ interest, they become motivated to work on their writing tasks. They also perceived writing assessment as a determining, and substantial factor in developing their writing quality. Moreover, writing quality was found to be higher than their perceptions as writers. The students’ writing quality shaped their perceptions of academic writing and writing assessment. The study also involved messages from students to writing instructors. The implications of the current study addressed different educational stakeholders, such as students, teachers, textbook designers, teacher educators and university administrators. Students are required to manage their time to produce the best possible written work. Teachers are recommended to provide students with clear instructions on how to conduct different feedback types, such as peer-feedback and self-assessment. Textbook designers are required to design interesting writing prompts, which address students’ preferences. Teacher educators are responsible for delivering professional development (PD) events to train teachers on how to incorporate writing assessment activities with writing instruction. University administrators are required to reward teachers who successfully deliver writing assessment activities for university students.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date

Fall 9-20-2021

Submission Date


First Advisor

Atta Gebril

Committee Member 1

Maha Bali

Committee Member 2

Yasmine `Salah Eldin


223 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item