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Theme: Strategies and innovations in teaching and learning

The craft of academic writing and the first year experience: the importance of marker to student communication.

Ms Sue Spinks, Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University

Writing is an important part of the first year experience, for some students relatively painless for others considerably painful. At Macquarie University there are a number first year teaching staff who see themselves somewhat in the role of "master" to their first year "apprentices". They demonstrate through their marker feedback an awareness that the pedagogy of essay setting and assessing involves a two-way relationship: markers having a responsibility to help induct apprentice academic writers into the mysteries of their craft; and students expected to take some responsibility for their own induction into the relevant mysteries. The metaphor of apprenticeship has a particular relevance to disciplines like Education and Psychology, where the majority of students are preparing for specific, very applied vocations. But the notion of academic apprenticeship is popular among first year teachers in areas of the humanities and social sciences where there is no one vocation at the end of the road. This paper examines feedback from markers of first year assignments from the Departments of Education, Human Geography, Modern History and Psychology. In each case feedback from their students shows how much the mentoring role of these markers is appreciated by beginners who want to master the mysteries of their craft.

Full Paper in MS Word

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