Effective academic writing

Supporting materials


  • Group: 80
  • Length: 90 mins
  • Room: Any
  • Discipline: Any
  • Level: PGT

Suggested online resources

Session content

Introduction: The facilitator should introduce this workshop as the first in a series of 3 workshops that will introduce some specific skills that will enable the students to develop their approach to the academic work required of them. (Slide 2) This workshop will cover practical strategies to facilitate effective academic writing. It will cover

Planning your writing — TAPE

Structuring your writing — Question Matrix

Referencing the work of others — (Slide 3)

The facilitator should introduce the handout which is an extended version of KWL. Each student should have a copy to make notes on throughout the workshop. The facilitator will pause after each strategy to allow the students to complete the individual sections of the handout. This will create a personalised document that students can refer back to when they are commencing with writing. (Slide 4–5)

•What do you KNOW?

•What do WANT to know?

•HOW will you find out?

•What have you LEARNT?

•What ACTION will you take/how will you APPLY what you have learnt?

  • What further QUESTIONS do you have?

Activity: This warm up activity will have the students start to talk to each other. Ask the students to talk to the person sat next to them and to discuss the following: (Slide 6)

  1. What do they know about academic writing? What does it look like?
  2. What do they want to know about academic writing?

Whilst discussing these the students should add notes to the KNOW and WANT to know sections. The facilitator should ask the students to share some of the items that they noted down and this forms the agenda for the session. These can be written on a white board if available.

Activity: Introduce writing as a process. Ask the students what their process looks like. Can they draw it out and explain it to the person sat next to them? (Slide 7)

Direct instruction: The process of writing might look like the following….though this is iterative. How does this compare with what they have?

The facilitator should explain each part of the process and finally emphasis that it takes time and practice. In this workshop we will be covering pre — writing and drafting. The facilitator should sign post to the online Proofreading resource.

  • Rehearsal or pre-writing
  • Drafting
  • Revising
  • Editing
  • Publishing (Slide 8)

Direct Instruction: The facilitator should introduce the idea of writing with purpose originality and a clear message as part of the pre-writing/rehearsal stage of the writing process. They should talk about how when writers are efficient they trigger a response in their audience/reader. Introduce the acronym “TAPE” — this can be a useful place to start your writing as it forces you to consider “beyond” the content to include audience etc. The first step in writing is NOT putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, but in making sure that the concept/result/idea that you are putting forward is suitable for the report or format you are using. (Slide 9)

Topic: of the writer

Audience: Who is the writer writing for and who is their reader?

Purpose: what is the job of the paper and the person writing: demo understanding, lit review demo context, methodology: detailing practical aspects, results: analysing.

Examples/Evidence: what other sources of information and research will have informed the writers thought process and stance

Direction: TAPE can inform the intention to write but it will not organise the detail. The facilitator should refer to how it can difficult to see the correct solution amongst the words. So writing can feel like a puzzle.The facilitator should use the story cubes under the visualiser to illustrate messages/paragraphs to highlight order and flow. The importance lies in the following question. (Slide 10)

How to communicate a train of thought coherently and make all of the points whilst incorporating the evidence from others that have influenced thinking?

The facilitator should encourage the students to think about the building blocks of writing and how they can make good use of them. The building blocks are represented by sentences and paragraphs and these can be parts of a puzzle or an invisible structure. Emphasis should be placed on the fact there are no hard and fast rules only guidelines.

Activity: In pairs the students should analyse the piece of writing provided to examine how the author keeps the readers attention with their train of thought. The students should ignore the actual content and look at the words and the sentences and the language and use of sources. Analyse 1 paragraph at a time to identify the function of each sentence. Then look at another paragraph. (Slide 11)

This activity should indicate different methods of approach to constructing paragraphs and the mini arguments that exist within a larger piece of writing.

Activity: Writing as a macro puzzle.

Direct instruction: Introduce two approaches for pre-writing that will enable the students to create a strong structure for their writing, the question matrix and mind-mapping software. Both of these strategies will facilitate your plan of what to write and how to feed your thoughts to reader. (Slides 14 –16 )

Pause: what have you learnt

Direct instruction:

Activity: Ask the students to identify 3 bullet points on the Writing Cheat padlet. To be shared with the group after the class in Bb. The facilitator should refer back to how writing is a puzzle. (Slide 13)

Pause what have you learnt !

Reflection activity: The students should take a few minutes to reflect upon what has been covered. In particular they can focus upon the columns labelled Learnt & Action/Apply. The students can write sentences like I am going to do that, I will put that into practice when I am writing.

Wrap up and take your draw attention to the MLE support in Bb and the drop-ins. Ask the SCONUL question





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