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Theme: Support Systems and Programs

First year students' perceptions of writing difficulties in science
"I didn't expect it to be so different to school"

Gayle Barker
Department of Communication, Language and Cultural Studies
Victoria University

This paper presents students' perceptions about writing in a first year university science course. It looks at whether the students perceive writing tasks at university to be different to those at school. It also looks at the students' perceptions of specific difficulties with writing tasks during first semester. It concludes that students don't initially expect writing to be very different at university, but learn during the semester that they are not adequately prepared for writing at university. They experience increasing difficulties with writing tasks, especially in generic structure and depth and detail of subject knowledge required. Other difficulties are in citation of sources and also in accessing lecturers. The students have expectations that university lecturers will provide explicit instruction, guidance and feedback on written tasks, while the university lecturers expect students to be taking more responsibility for their own learning.

Full Paper in MS Word

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