Teaching academic writing skills at Level 9: An evaluation
Mc Clay, Deirdre.
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This study is an evaluation of a level 9 academic writing skills module in the School of Business Studies, Letterkenny IT. A 5 credit writing module was offered to all masters students in support of their dissertations. The evaluation will assess the overall quality of the module and the individual teaching and learning strategies, from the learner perspective. This could be developed into an iterative process of improving course design and add something to the knowledge base on the pedagogy of academic writing skills. The approach is consistent with the ethos of the reflective practitioner. Three techniques were identified from the literature as effective, and included in the module design: the writer-respondent method, writers’ groups incorporating peer review, and WebCT© reflective postings. Learners could bring their research proposal (assessed on a separate methodology module) to the Academic Writing course for both tutor and peer review. The module had relatively low contact hours, and assessment comprised eight WebCT© discussion postings (task based and reflective) and a portfolio of evidence of improvement in academic writing skills. The module used group work including writing partnerships, an emphasis on practising writing skills and provided experience of giving and receiving feedback. Since the starting point of the module design was a perceived problem with academic writing skills at level 9, the learning outcomes of the academic writing module will be significant to evaluation. Therefore the evaluation will comprise a questionnaire to the twelve participating students based on perceived achievement of intended learning outcomes. All students will then be interviewed with a particular emphasis on the effectiveness of the three main strategies of the module.
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