Document Type

Article

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

5.3 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES, *training, *pedagogy

Publication Details

Double Helix. Vol. 6, December.

Abstract

This paper reports on a qualitative study exploring the extent to which an accredited Academic Writing and Publishing (AWP) module for faculty and graduate students helped them develop as scholars and how, over time, it affected their instructional beliefs and attitudes in working with their own undergraduate students. For the two module tutors, it was important to know how the participants applied what they learned from the module in their own teaching practice and to identify particularly effective aspects of the module that translated to this other context. Therefore, key themes explored in this paper are the impact of the module’s critical thinking-reading-writing (CTRW) strategies on faculty writing practice and their subsequent transference to students across a range of disciplines. The module participants include faculty from higher and further education, PhD students, and professional educators (consultants and trainers). While the module tends to draw in new faculty and PhD students, in particular, for the support it provides for increasing their academic publications, this support is balanced with the assistance it can give participants to subsequently help their own students navigate critical thinking, reading and writing in the disciplines. Academic reading and writing, as well as research strategies and the ability to engage with ideas critically, are core expectations in most fields of study in higher education (Spiller & Ferguson, 2011). Complementing these generic competencies are the unique requirements associated with reading, writing and methods of inquiry in particular disciplines. However, Migliaccio and Carrigan (2017) reported that programs often struggle to address writing adequately because of the difficulty of fully evaluating student work and responding to any identified limitations, largely because of the impact on staff workload. Faculty may understand that teaching students to write is nevertheless a shared responsibility, not left to dedicated writing centers or foundational writing/composition courses alone. There are simple strategies that can form part of their daily teaching, such as those suggested by Angelo and Cross (1993) and Bean (2011)—strategies that can help students to deepen their intellectual grasp of a subject and develop the capacity to manage complex ideas in writing. Menary (2007) maintained that “writing is thinking in action” and “the act of writing is itself a process of thinking” (p. 622). Writing can force the clarification of ideas, attention to details and the logical assembly of reasons. However, designing writing activities that can only be completed with mind engagement takes effort on the part of the faculty member, and again, professional development has a role to play here. Clarence (2011) argued that there is a gap between what faculty think students need to do to develop as competent writers and thinkers and what these faculty are doing to help students achieve this goal. The AWP module, which is focused on supporting faculty writing and publishing, can, in turn, be applied pedagogically to students’ holistic writing development in order to begin to close the gap. The next section of this paper describes the context for the study (the AWP module and the participants who provided the data for the study). A literature review discussing critical thinking-reading-writing in the disciplines is then included. A subsequent section explains how this theoretical discussion informs aspects of the module. The research design of the qualitative study (with the module as its context) is then described, followed by an outline of how data were analysed using appropriate qualitative methods, including a process for coding transcripts. Given next is a presentation of the findings, which offer a basis for generalization and conclusions.

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