The write approach: Integrating writing activities into your teaching

O’Farrell, Ciara (2005) The write approach: Integrating writing activities into your teaching. In: Emerging issues in the practice of university learning and teaching. UNSPECIFIED, pp. 149-158.


There is a belief among students that assessment of student writing ability takes place only in; courses in the English department. However, as lecturers we expect our undergraduate students; to write for assessment in most disciplines, most likely a research paper, report, or an examination; essay. And no matter how bright their ideas, how well-researched their information or how; analytic their thoughts, their grade will suffer if these thoughts aren’t communicated in a clear,; accessible, well-organised, and competently-written fashion. Academic writing is a skill that all; disciplines demand so, at the very least, we need to offer our students strategies to help them deal; with the challenges of writing effectively.; I studied English in university, eventually completing an MA and a PhD. Yet during all this; time – and I was there many years – I was never, never once, offered a formal or indeed, informal,; class on how to write academically. And never once was I asked do any writing activities in; lectures or tutorials other than perfunctory note-taking, despite being expected to submit written; assignments all the time.; As an academic, writing is a key skill I use every day; however, it is also a competency that; many other professions value highly. Writing skills thus need to be actively cultivated in undergraduates; across all disciplines, as not only will the ability to write clearly and persuasively stand; to our students in their professional life, but the act of learning through writing will also help; them become more effective critical thinkers. Since thinking is an essential component of meaning; construction, classrooms that actively cultivate that construction of meaning through writing; will produce not only better writers, but also better thinkers (Tierney and Shanahan 1991).; This chapter will argue that writing should form an integral part of teaching in all disciplines.; While it is beyond its scope to fully elucidate the practices of writing across the curriculum, this; chapter is more than just a reflection on the various principles of academic writing; underpinned; by theory, its objective is to delineate realistic, feasible and immediate strategies to integrate writing; activities into the classroom or lecture hall.

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