Teaching Matters

Development and self-assessment of academic writing skills

Students in Year 3 and 4 complete a range of activities in order to develop their scientific writing skills in preparation for their final year project and thesis.

One of the early exercises is the development of skills in reading and providing a synopsis of an article. Reading is a core skill in the development of writing ability (Kovac and Sherwood, 2001), and this exercise is about enabling students develop their reading of unfamiliar topic, with the aim of extracting key information to synopsise.

In addition to assessment by academic staff, students are provided with the assessment rubric and submit a self-assessment of their exercise. This is managed through PebblePad, and students can compare their own assessment with instructor’s feedback. The self-assessment step improves students’ engagement with the assessment criteria and learning outcomes and also provides the marker with valuable information on the students’ own views of their performance. It is also intended to increase students’ level of engagement with the marker’s feedback; having thought about their performance themselves they are more likely to be interested in the marker’s views.

Future developments will involve developing some exemplars, as well as an induction activity in asking students to compare exemplars of different standards.