“The course was not only for the semester but also for life”: Scaffolding summary writing across academic disciplines
Conference contribution, 2019
At Chalmers University of Technology, writing pedagogy intersects with many disciplinary writing tasks. In this particular course, summary tasks aim to foster the writing skills and language proficiency of L2 students to prepare them in their studies in English at Chalmers. This teaching intervention gives intermediate English students three summary tasks, each based on notes the students have taken during a talk – the first talk given by an expert within the discipline they are studying and the other two by their course peers, thus in disciplines less familiar to them. In writing the three summaries, the students practice and improve upon typical characteristics of academic writing, such as the standard three-part structure, organised paragraphing and effective cohesion/coherence. The feature of interest in this intervention is that students receive constructive teacher feedback on these characteristics as well as on grammatical and/or lexical errors; thereafter, rather than focusing on revising each text, the students are instead encouraged to learn from, recognise and understand the feedback to generate a better summary for the next task. Through this process-oriented approach, the students establish a self-awareness of the communication errors in their writing and other possible ones that could occur. The goal of this intervention is for the students to gain tools and knowledge that they can apply in their writing development even after the course is over, something emphasised by one student who claimed “the course was not only for the semester but also for life”. This presentation examines the scaffolding of the summary tasks as well as the progression of writing skills and language proficiency of students through a couple of examples. It also suggests possible pathways for further applications, as well as research examining the students’ summaries. Would such an analysis confirm that students are making the progress that appears to be happening?
academic writing skills