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Creating effective feedback for developing students academic literacies Amanda French, University of Wolverhampton.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating effective feedback for developing students academic literacies Amanda French, University of Wolverhampton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating effective feedback for developing students academic literacies Amanda French, University of Wolverhampton

2 Defamiliarise and problematise lecturers feedback practices around students academic writing in HE. Encourage lecturers to be more reflective/proactive about feedback practices around students academic writing. Challenge the low status and often poor quality of feedback around academic writing. Suggest ways in which lecturers and students can be encouraged to view written feedback as an integral part of a practice-based, situated approach to developing academic literacies.

3 The importance of academic writing It is the primary means by which students communicate their learning across all disciplines. Written texts form one of the primary means by which students access information across all disciplines. Writing is the most common way lecturers assess what students have learnt across all disciplines.

4 Writing as a situated practice My research stems from a situated perspective on language and literacy practices (Barton, Hamilton & Ivanic, 2000). This approach takes the view that academic writing and writing development in higher education are social practices requiring students and lecturers to develop situated writing practices, which reflect the dominant discourses operating within higher education generally and their subject area specifically (Lea & Street, 2000).

5 Academic writing as a social/situated practice It can be illuminating to treat undergraduates writing and writing development as sites though which discourses of knowledge and pedagogies of learning within which higher education can be explored and challenged. Lecturers and students are engaged in an inherently dialectical relationship around writing in which both parties actively produce, consume and transform each others writing (and that of others) (Maclure, 2006).

6 What is academic writing ? Talk to your neighbour for two minutes about one of these questions. Does academic writing differ from other kinds of writing ? How does writing for HE differ from writing for academic purposes in other education settings ? What kinds of writing experiences do students bring with them to HE ? What do lecturers think academic writing is ? Do these questions ever get discussed explicitly with students……..?

7 The problem with feedback on academic writing There is plenty of evidence that students often do not read or value their lecturers feedback. Students also fail to act on feedback. Students are often more interested in their grade. Too often the whole subject of academic writing and feedback becomes solely about passing the assignment. Feedback around writing often focuses on what students need to do or what they have not done, which creates a deficit model. Students and lecturers often only think about writing as a product not a process.

8 Dont lecturers know what academic writing is ? Lea & Street (1998) found that whilst lecturers emphasised aspects of structure and critical thinking as key elements to successful writing in their feedback, they were unable to specify exactly what they meant by those terms. This creates a discourse of transparency around academic writing. This means that lecturers often do not explicitly discuss their expectations of students writing are in a coherent or consistent way (Lillis and Turner, 2001). Evaluative phrases such as those used in assignments and feedback are anything but self-evident and indeed mean different things across a range of contexts (Lillis & Turner 2001).

9 Synthesis…isnt it obvious ! Putting theories into your own words Writing the knowledge/things youve learnt in a certain way Producing themes in your own words by bringing in theories to enhance your argument Including lots of different ideas in your work Doing something with the knowledge youve learnt. How you convey the knowledge you have Streaming my arguments Producing theories in my own words Including theories to enhance your own argument Bringing your work and the texts you have read together Bring together points Find ideas that are similar to others

10 …explaining and developing the exact requirements and purpose of the academic writing students are being asked to do often remains implicit and tacit for students and lecturers, particularly within subject- specialist modules where most teaching takes place …..

11 Developing effective academic writing Is a gradual process which feedback is a vital part of. Is largely dependent on students learning how to present and articulate their learning with confidence using appropriate academic writing practices (Ivanic & Lea, 2006). Requires students to develop positive academic writing identities (Ivanic, 1998).

12 Issues around academic literacies and writing development Academic writing is not just about mastering a set of technical skills. Many lecturers see themselves as novice writing developers, this is in contrast to the more secure identities they have as experts and teachers in their disciplinary field. There are many potential misunderstandings and discontinuities between lecturers and students around writing for academic purposes. Expectations about students academic writing and strategies for writing development are not discussed or shared by lecturers nor are they part of their professional development. It is very difficult to measure effective practice in academic writing and writing development.

13 Questions raised by an academic literacies approach to feedback How can/could lecturers negotiate/recognise issues around writing and writing development more effectively with their students ? To what extent do lecturers critically reflect on their own experiences as academic writers ? To what extent do lecturers critically reflect on their expectations and feelings about students academic writing and writing development ? How might lecturers develop a pedagogy of academic writing with/for their students which may or may not be integrated into their subject specific teaching ? How does this notion of combining subject-specialist teaching with academic writing development lead to tension and difficulties, not least with regard to lecturers professional identities ?

14 Issues around academic writing development for subject specific lecturers Workload and professional development implications. Lack of time to set up academic writing development activities. Need to provide and feedback on many different/short tasks. Need to integrate academic writing development into exisiting curriculum demands. Lack of knowledge/confidence on how give effective feedback/development on academic writing.

15 Ways forward for lecturers ? Shift the emphasis away from a disourse about failing students and begin to critique taken-for-granted assumptions about academic writing. Think about academic writing as a tool, integral to the process of teaching a subject. Assume nothing about students academic writing. Make expectations around academic writing tasks explicit and contestable. Celebrate writing ( in all its forms !!). Share your own academic writing struggles with students. Expose students to each others writing.

16 Keep talking about the processes and purposes of academic writing. Providing unassessed opportunities to practice and share academic writing experiences. Discuss how academic writing practices complement or support students subject learning. Link summative assignments, assessment criteria and feedback. Do lots of it !!

17 References Catt, R. and G. Gregory (2006). The Point of Writing: Is Student Writing in Higher Education Developed or Merely Assessed? In Teaching Academic Writing in UK Higher Education: in Theories, Practices and Models. L. Ganobcsik-Williams. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan: 16-29. Higgins, R., Hartley P., and Skelton, A. (2002) The Conscientious Consumer: reconsidering the role of assessment feedback in student learning. Studies in Higher Education Vol. 27 No. 1 pp 53–64. Ivanič, R. and M. R. Lea (2006). New Contexts, New Challenges: the Teaching of Writing in UK Higher Education in Teaching Academic Writing in UK Higher Education. L. Ganobcsik-Williams. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan: 6- 15. Lea, M. R. and B. V. Street. (1998 Academic Literacies. Learning Matters, Student Writing in Higher Education: An Academic Literacies Approach. In Studies in Higher Education. Vol 23. No. 2 pp.157-172. Lillis, T. & J. Turner (2001) Student writing in higher education: contemporary confusion, traditional concerns. Teaching in Higher Education. Vol. 6. No. 1. pp. 64-73

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