Encouraging clarity

A poor essay is often a good first draft

This message is perhaps no consolation to the marker of poor essays but it does suggest that there is usually potential for development in any piece of writing and even poor writing contains ideas that are worthy of developing. Tutors who tell stories of working one to one with students on their writing usually testify to the satisfaction of helping them discover and develop what they have to say, communicating it clearly to themselves and the reader.

We’ve used a number of activities in our work to help students become aware of how they can structure and clarify their thinking in their writing. Why not build some opportunities to try these activities into your module, before the assignment hand-in date?

·         Editing strategies  – a range of  activities that encourage students to look closely and critically at what they have written, and Building Stronger Paragraphs  - a range of activities designed to help students see how some of writing’s ‘smaller’ features (choice of words, links between sentences) can have a strong effect on how successfully it ‘carries’  thinking and communicates with a reader. Both of these can be found in the Developing Language section.

·         Environmental Hazards – a combination of resources and workshops with feedback opportunities developed for a course in Geography, Environmental Hazards, where students’ attention was drawn to particular aspects of their language usage in their texts.

You might also want to look at part of our assessment and feedback sections to see how feedback can be more effectively targeted at encouraging students to be clear.

·         Writing a good Short Answer Question (SAQ) – an account of how we worked with colleagues in the School of Medicine and Dentistry to better understand the features of successful and less successful responses to short answer questions. Links to an on-line self-access resource.

For more even support on developing clarity in writing, you could refer your students to our  tutorials in Learning Development