UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF ACADEMIC WRITING: AN ACADEMIC LITERACIES PERSPECTIVE
This paper reports an intervention that was intended to increase university students’ awareness of seeing writing as a knowledge-building social practice. The focus of this pilot study was on problems related to writing as described by students in a Finnish university. Data consisted of a video recording of participants’ (n=8) group discussion on their emotions and cognitions on academic writing. Further, their narratives on the same topic that evolved into a written dialogue between the researcher and each participant individually, a version of expressive writing (Pennebaker 1995), were categorized and analysed. Students’ experiences of constructive alignment (Biggs 1999, 2003, 2011, 2014) and destructive frictions (Vermunt, Verloop 1999) were of interest. The findings are discussed both from the perspective of Knowledge Management (KM) and academic literacies (Kiili, Mäkinen & Coiro 2013).
Often overlapping intrapersonal and interpersonal writing-related problems were evident in the material. Low self-efficacy beliefs, procrastination and motivational issues emerged as challenging. Students reported that receiving constructive feedback on writing assignments would facilitate the development of their argumentation. Yet, grade was often experienced as the only feedback. Findings contribute to analysing constructive alignment and destructive frictions in Finnish higher education. It may prove useful to emphasize using writing instruction more consistently as a learning tool and a dimension of academic literacies instead of more mechanical reporting function. Further, our currently dominating cultural models of higher education and how people learn appear to have a poor fit: more collaborative or co-regulated teaching and learning practices should be adopted as learning tools.
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