Hier finden Sie zur Übersicht alle Abstracts der Tagungsbeiträge in alphabetischer Reihenfolge (nach Erstautor*in mit Kurztitel)
A challenge of teaching is to know if students actually learn in a course what they are supposed to learn. Evaluations and exams can only partly answer this question as they are subjective snapshots in time, influenced by many different factors. Therefore a method is needed to measure how much they learn, the so-called learning gain. This is especially true for competencies that are acquired over several semesters – like the ability to write scientifically.
In this study, we use the change over time in self-assessments to measure learning gain (following Hake’s (1998) definition of “normalized gain”) in writing competencies in a Biology curriculum. Over the course of one year, students filled out questionnaire at three separate points in time to self-assess how good they are in six competencies needed for writing scientific texts. To determine how reliably this self-assessment reflects actual learning gain, we also measured learning gain based on scientific texts written by students at two different point sin time during our study. We then compared learning gain based on self-assessment with learning gain based on the texts to find out if change in self-assessments can be used to learn about actual writing developments within courses. We found a clear correlation between learning gain based on self-assessment and based on texts. The large variance, however, suggests that the method is unfit to illustrate individual learning processes and should only be used to measure course-level developments, where we think it is a valuable addition to standard evaluations. Estimated learning gains can provide specific starting points for further conceptual advancements of (writing-intensive) courses.
A widespread challenge in university teaching is student’s limited attention and reflective thinking. This frequently leads to little knowledge absorption and even to false understanding of the subject matter. This challenge is further increased by little time for elaboration or asking questions.
Against this background, we introduce the concept of one-minute paper in a course setting. The frequently associated benefits of one-minute papers are continuous short writing tasks as well as the stimulation of a deeper reflection of arguments. However, we do not introduce the method one-minute paper within the classroom, as usually done, but in the self-study time. Moreover, our research is motived by going beyond the frequently stated general benefit of one-minute paper studying in detail how students review and summarize course content. In regard to a deeper learning experience, this raises our research question, namely, which levels of reflection do students achieve with one-minute papers written in their self-study time?
One-minute papers are introduced, requiring students to write a short text (150-250 words) in an online course forum (dedicated learning platform). After each session, the lecturer gives a specific question for each course appointment. Thus, the writing activity remains constant, but the question of reflection is always different. Results from student’s course evaluation show that students perceive the one-minute paper as low effort activity not burdening them much. Qualitative analysis of one-minute papers indicates that students achieve all levels of reflective thinking and make new connections, based on the teaching material. These results contribute in general to our understanding of enhancing students’ critical thinking skills and knowledge absorption, and in specific to the application of one-minute paper outside the course room. For lecturers, this paper offers suggestions to keep students involved in learning with low threshold writing activities and amplify student’s reflective thinking.
Academic writing presents a formidable challenge both for students as learners as well as for lecturers as teachers. In order to provide all students in the department of sociology and ethnology at the University of Konstanz with opportunities to practice and reflect on their academic writing, funds from the Quality Pact for teaching were used in a cooperation between lecturers from the discipline and the newly founded central writing centre. Between 2013 and 2019, they initially cooperated in individual projects which, in a second phase, were linked to reach entire student cohorts. In order to evaluate these measures towards the end of the current grant phase, qualitative interviews were conducted among students, lecturers and administrative staff to gain insight into the effects of these measures from their point of view. The results show that students experience the increased attention to feedback as helpful and positive even in the face of the resulting workload and greatly appreciate the opportunity to see and engage with their peers’ writing. Lecturers and administrative staff continue to see the challenges which students face in their writing but also feel that progress has been made. In sum, the reflective approach taken in the discipline and supported by the writing centre has positive effects and should be continued.
This paper describes the concept of a mandatory introductory course to philosophical methods for freshers who had to write three texts – two of them summaries – and were given feedback on two of them.
In the first part of the paper the summary is introduced as the text type of choice as freshers tend to express themselves in vague and ambiguous terms. Accordingly, the summary, a text type they definitely know from school, not only poses a sufficiently demanding challenge but also is especially promising because in contrast to, for example, an essay it is relatively well-defined.
Subsequent to the description of the proceeding during the seminar and the presentation of the key data of the sample (number and fields of study, test results, improvement and deterioration of performances) an exemplary analysis of parts of texts composed by two students illustrates that clarity of writing cannot be achieved even by detailed and repeated text feedback. In the majority of cases improvements were visible only at the level of superficial textual phenomena. On the basis of this observations some aspects of the writing development of students are discussed and it is emphasized that the acquisition of academic writing skills is a long-term process. Finally the potentialities and limits of the promotion of students‘ writing skills are explored.
This study is located in the field of writing intensive courses in higher education. It focuses on the complexities of feedback and revision procedures and analyses feedback processes using a text corpus that emerged from writing intensive courses. Source of the corpus was a digital writing archive developed specially to support those courses: https://lehrlernarchiv-schreiben.blogs.uni-hamburg.de/ .
In our case study we analysed texts from a course in which students fulfilled three writing assignments during the semester to train their skills in literary analysis. The students uploaded their assignments to the online writing archive, where their professor gave written feedback. In the next step the students revised their works based on the teacher’s feedback and uploaded it again. To understand how and about what aspects the professor gives feedback and how this leads to disciplinary socialisation we examined three texts written by two students and the 149 comments made by their professor. Initially we asked how such texts and comments can be usefully described and analysed and with this aim developed and tested a set of tools. Our methodological approach was guided by the systematic of Grounded Theory. First we explored and categorized the speech actions used by the professor, then described the content of the comments. Finally we observed how the students revised their texts in response to the professor’s comments. The results show a close relation between speech actions and content and indicate that students are taking steps toward disciplinary socialisation during the writing, feedback and revision process.
Lawyers work with texts. Law students do not only need to read them, but also have to produce high-quality texts to pass their exams. The German legal education system uses a very distinct, highly structured type of texts, called Gutachten (legal expertise). Students are expected to adhere the very strict formal rules of writing of this type of texts, but are seldom taught how to actually write it correctly. This article reports on tentatively changing the contents of a first-semester tutorial in a way that focuses on writing. The experiment is still work in progress. During the course, besides the usual discussion of legal cases, students have to do writing exercises with increasing complexity and difficulty that train writing parts of or whole Gutachten. Links to peer-assisted-learning are used, when these texts are produced in collaboration with a fellow student or within small groups. The exercises start with raising awareness for the characteristics of the Gutachten by pointing out similarities and differences to types of texts students already know and visualising the Gutachten’s distinct internal structure. They proceed with ad-hoc formulating definitions for abstract terms, a skill necessary for writing Gutachten. Then, they start working with cases and go through the process of writing Gutachten as case-studies by first summarising the case and identifying its central legal problems, and then writing the case-study Gutachten in small groups, putting together the outcomes as a final text. This is repeatedly done throughout the weekly sessions of the tutorial. Further exercises, focusing on structure and argumentation, can be done at home and results compared in class. Since students need to write Gutachten within their end-of-semester exams, better exam results are expected. Evaluation of the new concept of the tutorial is still pending. However, students seem to appreciate the practical exercises done in class.
A good paper starts with a precise research question which is relevant in the particular discipline. But how can first-year students determine relevance – especially in a subject like Health Sciences, which is characterized by multidisciplinarity? Experience shows that students struggle to explicate the relevance of their texts. However, as conversations with colleagues in the School of Public Science at the University of Bielefeld show, even lecturers struggle to clarify how to write a discipline-specific and reader-oriented text.
In the course “Introduction to Health Sciences”, students do not only learn the theoretical basics of their discipline but also how to write their first academic paper. In the last two years, significant changes have been made: Most of all, elements of peer feedback were established, so that the students have a real audience besides me as their lecturer. Moreover, already existing elements like the three steps topic – question – significance have been strengthened. The paper also identifies ideas for further improvements, most of all to make the stakeholders in healthcare more visible. Thus, the paper presents well-tried actions and new ideas – and also some open questions like: How can we as lecturers explain even more clearly how students should argue for the public health relevance of their research question?
In this paper, the author presents some preliminary results of a project initiated by the Institute of History at the University of Mainz to empirically research the ‘bottlenecks’ experienced by students during the introductory phase of their history studies. The different approaches of the project include interviews with students and teachers, questionnaires and online surveys, as well as statistical analysis of the grading of students’ papers. Taken together, one result is obvious: The adaption of scientific and professional (i.e. historical) ways of working poses a special challenge for a majority of students, and this is particularly apparent in academic writing – especially in writing the first Hausarbeiten or seminar papers required in the history seminars of the bachelor’s programme. The author discusses how students and teachers perceive this “seminar paper challenge” according to the research data of the project. That this challenge is central to studying history in Mainz appears as consensus between all the parties involved. However, many students feel intimidated by the task of writing seminar papers, which they hold as the hardest part of studying – and the one they know about the least beforehand. Thus, there is a principal need for orientation, broad and fundamental at first, then more and more nuanced. Beginners struggle with the genre and text type, and with the (sometimes unspoken) rules governing academic writing. Of the text-type-specific requirements, the core criteria of the discipline (like formulating a guiding question and power of judgement) are hardest to meet (even for more experienced students). The process of the adaptation of academic writing skills is part of students’ development of a self-concept as scientist, which needs time and commitment. The autonomy needed for this process can lead to uncertainty, in some cases even to anxiety and a feeling of abandonment. With these findings in mind, the author and one of his colleagues tried to revise their seminars to give even more room to a target-oriented guidance towards academic thinking and writing. A first trial of the new conception is briefly discussed at the end of the paper.
Nowadays, there are many ways tutors can sustainably improve the writing skills of students. The Writing Fellow Program is one of these offers, which are integrated into the curricular seminars. Thereby, Writing Tutors support lecturers in the development of concrete writing tasks for their seminar, and they also provide students with feedback on these tasks and possible in-class workshops. But to what extent can such Writing Fellows improve students’ writing skills, especially if they are from other disciplines? How can possible positive effects be measured at all?
In order to approach an analysis of the results of the Writing Center at LMU Munich in recent years, it is first necessary to clarify in which different frameworks Writing Fellows are deployed and in what way: How high is the demand for Writing Fellows in the first place? How is the cooperation between teachers and Writing Fellows organized? And in what way can peer-to-peer feedback be designed? Based on this, we will evaluate the experience gained so far from the Writing Fellow Program. Two courses form the basis of the survey: Firstly, a seminar for Master’s students who had to write an exposé for their respective thesis and who were supported by a Writing Fellow over two semesters; here, we will focus on the improvements made after the first semester. Secondly, we will analyze a basic seminar in which novice writers have written their first academic essays. This survey will primarily examine the extent to which their texts were changed after receiving feedback from the Writing Fellow. Finally, we want to draw hypotheses which aspects should be given special attention when using Writing Fellows, and how the program in its current form at LMU Munich can be improved.
At the Department of Social Work at the St.Gallen University of Applied Sciences, teaching staff become increasingly aware that the written work of bachelor students do not adequately meet the technical requirements. When supporting students with seminar papers or with the bachelor thesis, but also in the practical support of interns, teachers notice that students are often overwhelmed and disoriented. In addition, the quality of the texts produced is often poor, both from a scientific point of view and with regard to the (linguistic) requirements of professional social work. The promotion of literacy skills should therefore be a key task of the department, both in the academic education of students and in the formation of a professional habit. A systematic curriculum analysis was carried out to determine the current state of the curriculum and to find out whether (and if so which) measures to promote literacy skills are necessary. The results of this analysis showed that the so far only implicitly existing curriculum of literacy competencies has weaknesses from a (writing) didactic perspective. Based on these results, a didactic concept for the Bachelor’s degree in Social Work was then created, which should enable students to systematically acquire, differentiate and develop literacy skills in the future. The proposal feeds into the overall curriculum development of the department, with the aim of obtaining the highest possible approval from staff, so that the concrete design of the individual courses can be carried out in a next step.
Since summer turn 2019, university teachers of the Interdisziplinärer Grundkurs (IGK) of the BA Sozialökonomie integrate teaching materials for writing instruction and practice into their syllabi and seminar sessions. The materials are part of a Writing Enriched-Curriculum (WEC) project by the Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften of Universität Hamburg and the Schreibzentrum des Universitätskollegs, designed for the course’s disciplinary requirements. One main learning goal of the Interdisziplinärer Grundkurs is that students acquire basic academic writing skills while learning course content. The main writing assignment is a ten to twelve pages graded seminar paper that students turn in by the end of the one-year module.
In cooperation and exchange with the faculty, especially teachers of the Grundkurs, the Schreibzentrum des Universitätskollegs developed a set of measures that have two connected aims: providing systematic writing instruction support to teachers so teachers can adequately improve students writing skills. To meet that objective, writing instruction materials, teacher trainings, and exchange opportunities are being offered, assessed, and improved.
This paper examines effects that the project had on teaching and student learning thus far. Different survey methods were conducted to gather empirical data from the teachers’ perspectives: a guideline-based group discussion and a partially standardized questionnaire. The preliminary results suggest an overall positive impact of the WEC project. The writing instruction materials and teacher trainings enable teachers to integrate tailor-made writing instruction and exercises from session one on, by sequencing writing assignments. Teachers use the materials to foster various skills. Teaching has become more active and interactive, e.g. through informal writing in class, peer-feedback and group work. Teachers customize the materials to their learning goals and demands to connect writing with subject learning.
This paper presents a teaching concept of academic writing for the interdisciplinary course gender and diversity at the faculty of engineering and mathematics (University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld). The concept is based on three main principles: disciplinary specialization, needs orientation and progressive acquisition of competencies. These principles are seen as transferable to other courses.
The students of the course are supported by lectures, materials and formative feedback that is tailor-made for their needs and their interdisciplinary writing task. Already during the course, the students produce certain text parts of their writing tasks such as a bibliography, an exposé and a structure. Within 1 or 2 weeks, they will receive individual written feedback on each of these text parts.
Despite methodical reservations, the paper presents some considerations with regard to the effectiveness of the concept. Firstly, a self-assessment survey shows that the students feel they have acquired competencies in writing and literature research after the completion of the course. Secondly, the grading was analysed by a comparison to a control group of students who were not part of the teaching concept. Whereas the grade point average does not differ, the percentage of texts that do not meet the minimum requirements dropped within the group of students who completed the course. The paper concludes with a description of a similar teaching concept in two other interdisciplinary courses at the same faculty. It is hereby shown that the main principles of the concept are transferable to other courses even if the rest of the concept was slightly modified.
This contribution gives insights into the goals and gains of a discipline-sensitive writing center program at Paderborn University, the Textographer Program, as they have been described by the participating teachers in text-based interviews. As a variant of the Writing Fellow approach, the program brings together teachers and student writing tutors – textographers – from the same subject area in a writing-intensive course that includes at least two writing tasks. During the one-semester collaboration, the two main tasks of the textographers are to provide teachers with feedback on their writing tasks and students with feedback on their resulting academic texts. The contribution focuses on the aims and results of the peer text feedback conducted within the Textographer Program from the perspective of the participating teachers. For this purpose, the initial problem addressed by the Textographer Program is outlined first. Then, the program’s central steps and theoretical background are presented, followed by a description of the methodological setup of the interview study with the participating teachers. A first analysis of three qualitative text-based interviews then sheds light on what teachers from different subjects say about their goals with their students’ texts and in what way they perceive that their goals have been met after the textographers’ feedback and text revision. Teachers’ statements about the implicit disciplinary ideals for texts in the interviews are a second analytical focus. After presenting the analytical findings, the contribution concludes with a discussion of the main conclusions drawn from these findings.
How can the quality of students’ writing be improved? A pilot project at Bielefeld University, Department of Sociology, suggests the effectiveness of three factors or three lines of procedure. (i) Engage in controlled overstraining of students’ capacities. E.g., have them write a non-trivial paper in the very first week of the very first semester, which requires them to think things through for themselves and which cannot be completed “mechanically” with familiar school skills. Deliberately try to break work habits acquired at school. (ii) Comment on students’ papers every week, and work on their papers “live” on PowerPoint. The art of writing cannot be learned through general rules and handbooks. Students must be offered live examples of someone working on a text: on a sentence, a paragraph, a thesis, the best wording for a given idea, etc. The teacher’s commitment will transmit “performatively” the significance and difficulty of the task ahead, while mere verbal assertions to the effect that writing is hard work will wither without effect. (iii) Create a dense social context in which students’ intellectual experiences are embedded. Increase the hours spent in class, offer personal commitment and contact, encourage the formation of informal contacts among students, and act as a role model that provides inspiration and guidance. Learning is not only an intellectual but also a social endeavor; it requires not only cognitive skills, but also emotional qualities such as courage and curiosity, trust and bonding, ambition and endurance.
During their studies, future teachers of Physical Education (PE) are not only supposed to improve their own performance level in different areas of sports and movement that are relevant for teaching PE at school. They are also supposed to gain substantial theoretical and didactical competencies that enable them to teach the different areas of sports and movement to a heterogeneous group of pupils. Consequently, lecturers of physical practice courses are confronted with the challenge of linking the teaching of motor skills to theoretical and didactical reflection. Andrea Menze-Sonneck teaches gymnastics (“Turnen – Bewegen an und mit Geräten”) which is a compulsory course for students who want to become PE teachers. To facilitate the connection of theory and exercise she integrates a portfolio: students have to do assignments, some of them in written form, for which they regularly have to get engaged with relevant literature and write texts on didactical topics.
In cooperation with her colleague, Elke Langelahn, who teaches literal competencies to students of sports science, she evaluated the benefit of the portfolio for the students’ learning process. With reference to the idea of SoTL, two research questions were central:
- Which benefits and problems do students perceive when working with the portfolio?
- How can assignments be formulated in a way that helps students to understand their specific requirements regarding content and language?
For evaluation we used two methods: First, we used a questionnaire in order to find out about the students’ attitude towards the portfolio and the written assignments as well as the problems they felt confronted with. In addition, we conducted a qualitative analysis of an essay on a didactical topic students had to compose. For this purpose we used the holistic Six-Subgroup Quality Scale by Randsdell and Levy (1996).
With the help of our SoTL study the quality of the portfolio work could be improved significantly. The portfolio could be evaluated as an effective but demanding tool for linking physical practice to processes of didactical reflection relevant in a PE context. The results of the text analysis give a detailed insight into typical problems concerning students’ writing of didactical texts and clues for revising writing tasks in terms of criteria that are supposed to make writing assignments more effective (cf. Bean, 2011; Anderson, Anson, Gonyea & Paine, 2015; Gottschalk & Hjortshoj, 2004).
In order to systematically promote information literacy and writing skills among all students as part of their subject teaching, the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Konstanz has developed guidelines for seminars in the bachelor’s programme. The guidelines stipulate that academic literacy techniques are taught in the first two seminars provided for in the curriculum. These two seminars are to be based on each other: While the first seminar focuses on literature research and management, the second one focuses on academic writing. In addition, cooperation with staff from the library services and the writing centre is intended: On the one hand, they, as outside experts, are to teach seminar sessions in order to complement the lecturers’ teaching. On the other hand, round tables were set up in which they contribute their knowledge and experience to foster information and writing skills and moderate the exchange between the subject lecturers. In this article we report on how the exchange and cooperation of the department with the two central institutions was institutionalised in the guidelines and the roundtables. Despite the challenges that arise in the implementation of this concept, the integration of the promotion of information and writing skills into the subject has proved its worth and has led to further development of teaching in all three areas. The debate on the teaching of information literacy and writing skills has increased in the subject as a whole and led to a further development of teaching forms. The cooperation between library services and the writing centre was helpful in bringing their perspectives on academic working techniques to the subject with great emphasis.
Providing feedback is a highly effective learning influence and an important intervention when teaching writing, especially in writing-in-the-disciplines-setting. However, teachers often lack time to give feedback on their student’s texts. Peer-feedback offers a valid alternative to teacher-feedback. For the potential of peer-feedback to unfold, students need support. Thus, integrating peer-feedback is a demanding task and requires teachers to carefully design the respective learning environment. A design-based research project at the writing center of the Hamburg University examined conditions for peer-feedback to be valid and effective. In the project, I designed, explored and evaluated a peer-feedback setting for an introduction to legal writing course. In order to provide decontextualized results that are transferable to other learning environments, I created design principles to give teachers guidance and directions when integrating peer-feedback into their courses. These design principles include determining your objectives and expectations, creating relevant writing and feedback tasks, providing opportunities for exercise, offering guidance, scaffolding and fading, modelling, offering space for reflecting and securing results, translating requirements into student language and illustrating those qualities with sample texts.
The acquisition of advanced academic writing skills has become increasingly relevant as an intended learning outcome in STEM degree programs at German universities; the STEM context warrants the adaptation of writing instruction methods developed in the humanities and in writing courses for all disciplines. The present project illustrates the particular advantages of establishing team-teaching partnerships between writing instructors and discipline-specific teaching faculty for large course groups (80 to 120 students) in a biology degree program.
An optional writing-intensive module for biology majors was designed in cooperation between a writing instructor and a discipline-specific lecturer to help students prepare for writing final their bachelor’s thesis. Discipline-specific writing assignments were integrated into the module in combination with extensive tutoring by trained peer tutors from the university’s writing centre.
Implementing a data collection component in the course, based on current methodologies in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) allows for a continuous optimization of the course structure and for a fruitful discussion of the experiences, task types, and potential pitfalls identified in the project.
For assessing the impact the team-teaching module, students were asked immediately after submitting their final thesis to complete an online self-assessment survey addressing four pillars of academic writing competence: (a) source-based writing, (b) audience awareness, (c) coherence, and (d) mastering linguistic and discipline-specific writing conventions. In the self-assessment survey, students who completed the module (n=34) expressed greater confidence in their own abilities in all four categories than a control group of students (n=39) who had not attended the module. Based on the observations from the self-assessment survey, it can be concluded that team-teaching partnerships between writing experts and discipline-specific teaching faculty can be a viable approach to fostering students’ academic writing competence even in large course groups, albeit on the basis of a slightly more substantial commitment of time and resources on the side of both, the instructors and lecturers.
Reading scholarly historical texts analytically and critically is a competence students in the first semester of the two-semester basic courses in history at Bielefeld University are supposed to develop. The final assessment of the first semester is to write a critical analysis of a book-length study or of three articles. This paper describes a program consisting of several tasks and measures implemented in one basic course to teach students to this aim. Data that may indicate if the program has the intended effect consist on the one hand of written feedback students have given, and on the other hand of the written feedback that I as a teacher gave to texts students handed in – one during the semester, others for their final assignment. Three cases are analysed in detail. Two of them did rather well on their final papers and also expressed that they were very content with the program. One of these two shows significant progress in her writing. The third student stands for the roughly one third of students who have not yet passed all of the three assignments. His texts fulfill parts of the task but show many mistakes in language and some in content. In one case he rather retells the content of the article in great detail instead of keeping up an analytical perspective. He also, in his feedback, did not express clear satisfaction with the program. The question to discuss at the conference is if the data and the method to interpret it indicate the usefulness of the program installed.
The thesis statement guides the argumentative flow of papers, determines the relevance of individual arguments, and anchors texts within the academic discourse in Anglophone academic writing. To train students in successfully drafting thesis statements for their argumentative term papers, the Writing Center and two lecturers implemented a co-teaching in 2019 at the English literature department of the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen that trained students in discipline-specific matters and argumentative writing. The subsequently conducted research explored the actual realization of thesis statements in students’ term paper introductions and their application of and problems with the trained composition criteria, based on establishes research insights regarding issues in thesis statement composition. The results show that students had major difficulties in the composition of thesis statements despite the training. However, I propose that training thesis statement composition is not a futile endeavor.
Argumentative writing is one of the dominant genres in English Studies. In fact, a degree in the field can be seen as an extensive argumentation training: throughout their studies, students are expected to take a position on literary and cultural works and support their stance with evidence. This, however, is not easy. Not only instructors but also students themselves think that they have difficulties with the intricacies of argumentation.
In order to encourage and enable students of English to practice argumentative writing, I offered a writing-intensive seminar entitled “Great Debates in the Humanities” at Bielefeld University in the summer semester of 2019. This course asked students to read a selection of debates in the humanities and write response essays, demonstrating their distinct perspective on each debate.
In my presentation, I will demonstrate how this course enhanced students’ argumentative writing skills. First, I will outline what instructors expect when they assign argumentative essays or research papers – that is, conventions of argumentative writing. Second, I will outline the common difficulties or misunderstandings students have with argumentation. After that, I will explain why concentrating on debates in the humanities was an instrumental strategy in teaching argumentative writing.
Subsequently, I will reveal how I organized the course, what kind of activities I used for writing instruction and how I actually taught argumentation during the semester. After evaluating the results, I will end my presentation with the broader conclusions I drew from this course. Considering the fact that argumentation is an indispensable skill in many other humanities fields, I believe that the discussion will be of interest to many instructors across disciplines.
Academic disciplines that seldom require students to write papers are facing the problem that although academic writing skills are an important competence to be acquired, students rarely can practice them. Instead, they are thrown upon their own resources when they eventually compose decisive papers towards the end of their studies. Against this backdrop, in 2014 a cooperation of the business studies chair Marketing and Commerce at the University Duisburg-Essen and the local writing centre was initiated.
Following Knorr (2018, 145) it is the aim of this paper to show that the instructional format developed accounts for a heterogenous student body when it meets the demands to provide language sensitive instruction and a professional approach to writing processes and the handling of texts. As concerns business studies, the seminar requires students to investigate the interplay between business theory and practice and is completed by a seminar paper that is also meant to acquaint them with the demands of a pending bachelor thesis. As regards the development of writing skills, the aim is to support students in the composition of texts that realize the technical and stylistic demands posed by genre and discipline. Stated in more detail, two types of feedback help students to professionally reflect on their assignments and to gain insights into conventions of academic writing in their discipline. While an individual feedback focuses on readability as regards the wording and topical structure of the writing assignment, a plenary feedback reflects on demands posed by the particular assignment in question. As a result, not only an improvement of the methodological approach to the topics could be observed but also are the texts becoming increasingly conclusive, thus documenting the adaption of the discipline’s writing conventions. However, it is as yet unclear whether the results justify the effort of this format.
Module-integrated approaches to teaching writing, such as those developed at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences since 2012 and subsequently at Hanover University of Applied Sciences since 2016, have been positively evaluated by the teachers and students involved. Teaching experience shows, however, that the actual application of the writing techniques and guidelines taught to specific writing tasks such as lab reports is very demanding for students, and in many cases requires numerous feedback-supported redrafts to meet requirements. Nadolny et al. (2019, 121) call this problem an “implementation problem”, i.e. the difficulty of putting abstract techniques and specifications into practice.
The development of study- and work-related professional writing competences thus requires long-term learning. To facilitate this long-term development of writing competences teachers need to take into account individual levels of competence, stagger learning topics accordingly, and provide extensive reflective practice, appreciative feedback and continued revision to help students consolidate, transfer and adapt writing techniques (see Weisberg 2017). The organisation of such learning paths requires a cooperative, cross-module approach that should ideally be an integral part of degree programmes (cf. Nadolny et al. 2019). Based on three examples from teaching practice this paper describes this fundamental and largely unsolved teaching-learning problem in higher education. While the problem itself can be easily explained on the basis of common and widely accepted theoretical concepts and research findings, the question arises under what conditions and with what methods the proposed solution can realistically be implemented without unduly adding to the course load, and without overburdening teachers with correction work. This paper discusses eight theses on both the implementation problem and the proposed solution of the cross-module reflective practice, and concludes with a call for action.
To support students writing the Historical Institute of Frankfurt University established a program of texttutoring. It is based on the model of writing fellows but is adapted according the specific needs of the History Department. The main difference consists in the recruting and financing of the tutors. Both is done not by the writing center as for the writing fellows, but in the Historical Department itself. The fact that tutors and students both study history has turned out to be helpful for beginners as they are familiar with conventions and terms in history. Contact to the writing center is close, though, as the tutors receive their training in the writing center. Like writing fellows the texttutors give feedback on two writing assignments during the course. The article describes the situation and the increasing diversity of students at the beginning of their study based on a poll on beginners. The article then explains the way texttutoring is integrated into the beginner classes and shows the benefits for students, for the tutors themselves and for the teachers.