Lecturer and student perceptions of an academic writing task

Olivier, Amanda (1996) Lecturer and student perceptions of an academic writing task. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This research considers the perceptions of an academic writing task held by a lecturer and first year students in the Philosophy department at the University of Zululand. The research takes as its starting point the following premises: that language is inextricably linked to learning; that each academic discipline has a particular discourse which students have to acquire in order to participate as accepted members of the academic community; that learning proceeds most effectively when teaching starts with what is known and moves into the unknown; and that learning takes place through experience and involvement, rather than transmission. The research suggests that many first year students bring with them to university an understanding of the nature of learning and of knowledge which makes it difficult for them to understand the implicit rules of the discourse of analytical philosophy. My investigation uncovered several of these rules in the study guide written for the course, but it appears that students were not able to discover them and, as a result, experienced great difficulty in fulfilling the assignment task in a way which promoted their understanding of the content. The research also shows that the lecturer's expectations of the task were far removed from the manner in which the students implemented the task. It is argued that the students appear to have reverted to their established writing strategies which consisted of simply repeating what the 'authority' has said. From this it is argued that unless rules of the discourse are made explicit to students, and students understand the content of the course, they will revert to copying and relying on other sources to tell them what to write. One way of making these rules explicit and encouraging students to integrate new knowledge with previous knowledge which they bring with them to university is through providing well-structured writing tasks, and where necessary, developing clearly defined assessment procedures. Writing is the principal means of mediation between the lecturer, who is trying to offer students entry into the discipline, and the student apprentice trying to make sense of the discipline and find his or her own 'voice' within that discipline.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Higher education, Communicative competence, Academic writing, Language, Education
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
Supervisors:Boughey, Chrissie and Walters, Paul
ID Code:3967
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:06 Nov 2012 09:26
Last Modified:06 Nov 2012 09:26
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