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Book ReviewsWriting and Speaking

Issues In Academic Writing In Higher Education

Student Writing In A Changing Higher Education Context

In higher education, student writing is at the centre of instruction and learning, serving a variety of functions depending on the contexts in which it is used. Students must need strong writing skills for their assignments, projects or any other tasks and mostly students move towards assistance who are strong at writing to get help for their assignments, or projects. These goals comprise:


The major objective of student writing is typically this. Students may be required to turn in essays, quizzes, or lab reports whose main objective is to demonstrate their comprehension of the discipline’s course material. When lecturers evaluate this kind of writing, they take into account the language used, the text structure, the reasoning, grammar, and punctuation.


This can help pupils navigate their discipline knowledge and enhance their critical thinking and universal reasoning abilities. In addition to or concurrently with writing for assessment, students may be asked to write texts that document their observations of the learning process itself, comparable to journals where they record their thoughts, challenges, and ideas surrounding the readings, lectures, and practical experience.

Entering Particular Disciplinary Communities

Its communication guidelines act as the primary forum for the discussion and evaluation of ideas among academics. As they progress through the university, students are frequently expected to produce writings that more closely reflect the standards and conventions of their chosen fields; this expectation culminates at the level of postgraduate study.

Effective communication abilities are crucial for success both inside and outside of the institution, according to both students and academics. The most common writing assignment—the essay—remains the most common across a wide range of topics, contrary to some evidence that implies students are being asked to write for a greater variety of purposes.

Students’ ability to participate in this and other writing exercises, as well as whether the essay should continue to be their major form of writing, are issues that are coming up more and more frequently.

Increasing Student Numbers.

The increase in student involvement in higher education indicates a shift from a small, highly elite supply of higher education to policies and practises intended to widen access to more individuals. At the end of the 1930s, just approximately 2% of UK citizens were enrolled in higher education, compared to roughly 10% in the 1960s and nearly 30% by the late 1990s.

The UK government wants to increase this number to as high as 50% of the population between the ages of 18 and 30 by 2005. Policies that broaden participation have sparked an interest in learning and teaching in many regions of the world, including student writing. Thus, teaching writing is becoming more popular in the UK, South Africa, Australia, and the United States.

Increasing Diversity Of The Student Population.

The student population is not just larger and still growing in contrast to previous student generations, but it is also far more diverse. There are now an increasing number of “non-traditional” students, or students from societal groups who have typically been excluded from higher education. These include learners from the working class, those who are older than 18 when they enrol in college, as well as individuals from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Many international students also completed the majority of their schooling outside of the UK. Students’ reading comprehension and writing responses to academic materials are influenced by their educational background, ethnicity, cultural norms, and gender. For students who are new to higher education, more thorough writing instruction is necessary since they might not feel comfortable making claims about subjects that their lecturers are more informed about or employing academic writing patterns.

Complex Patterns Of Participation In Higher Education.

One of the complex patterns of involvement is a rise in part-time students in higher education, as opposed to the conventional full-time approach. In the UK, women have been the ones who have embraced part-time involvement the most.

Curriculum Changes.

Significant curriculum modifications have taken place, not the least of which are initiatives toward interdisciplinarity and modularization. Modularization, the practise of organising teaching and learning around condensed courses rather than throughout the span of a whole academic year, has grown dramatically over the past ten years. Estimates indicate that by 1994, more than half of UK universities had shifted to semester scheduling, which was frequently connected to the modularization of the curriculum and education.

Interdisciplinarity, where a growing number of courses offer modules in a wide range of subject areas, arises, can be found in particular interdisciplinary degrees like communication studies and women’s studies as well as in paths across more traditionally defined topic areas. Additionally, multidisciplinary higher education programmes with a focus on careers and professions, like nursing and social work studies, have grown in popularity.

Diverse Modes Of Curriculum Delivery.

Information technology improvements have had a considerable impact on the emergence of a number of curricular “delivery” approaches. The biggest change has been the shift away from conventional face-to-face teaching and learning techniques and toward the use of computer conferencing systems and web-based resources, both as part of campus-based services and increasingly in online courses. Investigations into how these changes will affect prevalent teaching, learning, and evaluation strategies continue.

Institutional Provision Of Writing Instruction

For varied historical, sociopolitical, and geographic contexts, numerous teaching methods for writing have been developed. In Australia, the study of disciplinary genres and the field of systemic functional linguistics have led to the development of teaching strategies that aim to increase students’ familiarity with academic customs and practises.

In American “freshman composition” classes for decades, both first-year students and non-native English speakers have been taught the assumed general skills of academic writing. There has recently been a rise in interest in teaching writing throughout the curriculum or in the disciplines due to the fact that much academic writing is discipline-specific and that writing is important in the learning process. In South Africa, where considerable changes are taking place in higher education, academics and teachers are reevaluating the purpose and nature of student writing in the classroom.

Dedicated Writing Courses

First-year writing, often known as “freshman composition,” is typically required during the first semester of university studies in the United States. Depending on institution policies, first-year students may enroll in remedial/basic writing classes, freshman compositions, or more advanced writing courses. As writing instruction has increased, more advanced courses in academic writing have been created.

In these classes, disciplinary lecturers are occasionally paired with writing specialists to focus on disciplinary writing patterns, such as those seen in “learning communities.” The expansion of the academic discipline of composition studies in the United States over the past 35 years has been attributed to an increase in non-traditional students enrolling in higher education.

Veterans of the Second World War, a rise in the presence of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and students with disabilities, among other causes, have all had an impact on the demography of students in higher education. The demand that these students gain academic literacy allowed some of the academy’s tacit assumptions and practises to come to light. The development of composition studies was also aided by a greater emphasis on theories of writing teaching and learning. For many of the same reasons, universities in the UK have recently begun offering courses aimed at teaching academic writing.

Approaches To Student Writing

There are variations in the exact approaches taken by individual tutors to assist students with their writing across and even within the breadth of institutional support mentioned in the preceding section. To educate student writing, it is useful to take into account three crucial methods. Writing as text, writing as process, and writing as a social practise are the names we give to these approaches. Despite the fact that these approaches have evolved over time and frequently in different geographic situations, they nonetheless have some influence on how writing is taught today, albeit to varying degrees.

Text Approaches

The focus has always been on students’ writing as final texts or “products” when writing has been expressly taught in higher education. Teaching writing frequently involved showing students “models of effective writing” and asking them to copy them, whether it was in official writing classes or as a task in discipline-based courses. Rarely were the varied rhetorical features of the texts or the social circumstances in which the writings were used critically examined.

Instead, certain aspects of the written texts, such as spelling, text organisation, vocabulary, and style, were the focus. Additionally, the writing process, including the conscious and unconscious choices that authors make in order to communicate for various goals and audiences, was often given minimal consideration. Assumptions were frequently made that children might learn how to write academically through this method of imitation at an era when pupils may have been more homogenous and shared prior educational experiences and social backgrounds.

The focus of more modern textual writing strategies has been on specific genres or text kinds, like essays, project reports, and lab reports. These are noted and openly examined with pupils. Such a conversation frequently touches on more general aspects of writing, such the rhetorical goals of specific text kinds within disciplines and the interaction between author and reader, as well as more specific issues, like how to organise a discussion of outcomes in an experiment report. It has been made clear how seemingly universal text types, like the essay, can differ in purpose or function as well as in different fields as a result of the movement to make students’ understanding of the requirements of various text types obvious.

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