Clare Furneaux - Developing academic writing skills at Masters level in a British University
Writing at Masters level is complicated, all students need support while studying. They basically do it for themselves and we can only try to help them. It is a "mess" and it varies from learner to learner and it is local (just my students in my context).
- English for Academic purposes: product and process (Flowerdew and Peacock, 2001, Hyland 2003)
- Academic Literacies: social activity (Lea and Street 1998, 2006, Lillis 2001 2003)
- discourse community (swales 1990)
- community of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991)
Her finding are that all students are individuals (there are no patterns) but there are common issues and challenges and it isn´t a community of practice(!), they lear writing themselves. We as teachers are mere gatekeepers of the community which they are trying to enter.
Given the writing task they have to pay attention at:
- criteria (must be clearly defined, explain it in class)
- content (they must draw on sources, not plagiarism but synthesis!)
- drawing on their own experience (this is expected because it is authentic, evidence)
- feedback (make outlines before writing, thinking about the topic)
- genre (prepare them for the dominant ones but also introduce new ones, and not show examples because they will take them as models - better many examples than one, just to get the sense of it)
- reader (they don´t think about the reader! - make them aware, what does the community expect from them)
What we want is developing academic literacy, developing writing strategies, an awareness of criteris, audience awareness and developing voice!
Ask yourself What is your writing mess like? What do your students make of it? What do you know about their making of it? :)