Although little of the work we have done to date focuses overtly on teaching the forms of writing students may have to do when they are in employment, we feel strongly that attention to and time spent on writing in students’ chosen disciplines can prepare them well for writing outside the university.
If participants in the writing process – in this case students and staff, both in the roles of writer, editor, reader and reviewer – are encouraged to consider and value their writing as something more than an assessment tool, they will have the chance to develop the qualities and experience that will enable them to write well in the workplace. In practice, this could involve giving students opportunities to become confident in a range of genres to develop their awareness of purpose, audience, form, and style; allowing – or requiring – them to engage with the processes of drafting, reviewing and editing writing, both individually and collectively, for their own writing and that of others; or finding opportunities for their research and writing to fulfil a ‘real world’ demand or be published/publishable to a readership outside of the course, among others.
Activities that we feel nurture these aspects of writing can be found throughout the Practical ideas section but include:
· Using different genres/styles/audiences to stimulate thinking and increase awareness of disciplinary style, and develop their engagement through critical and creative rewriting. These include asking students to write a letter to the author of an article (Geography), to write a poem expressing a theme present in the literature in the style of that literature (English), to write a brief explanation of a difficult concept using colloquial language - “what I reckon is…”, or to vary the audience.
· Providing a curricular structure that requires students to engage in research activities and write publicly about their researching and thinking. This can be developed on a small scale limited to one assignment or can be the underpinning of entire modules, as outlined in two of our Research Based Learning (RBL) projects where students have worked towards publishing their writing on line – click here to read more about the thinking behind developing RBL modules and for examples of this work have a look at Mapping Contemporary Cinema. It can also take the form of sessions designed to help students write for publication, as in the case of students in the Centre for Sports Medicine and Exercise.
· Setting assessments or activities that require student to write collaboratively. For examples of this, read about our work in a second year Geography module, Environmental Hazards, and a final year module in Comparative Literature, Constellations Online Anthologies.