Unpacking disciplinary conventions and expectations in the redesign of writing assignments at an engineering master's programme.
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2017
This study investigates development work on an international engineering master’s programme and
highlights collaboration between communication and content staff in the development and re‐design of
writing assignments. The study originates from a course manager’s frustration about the quality of students’
writing despite several attempts at addressing problems and subsequently accounts for the assessment and
re‐design of two assignments. The study takes a broad approach to the revision of writing assignments, but
the main data are interviews with students and comparisons of students’ texts before and after the redesign.
The presentation describes changes made to the assignments and theorises the changes from a
programme and course perspective. One central aspect of the re‐design was the unpacking of the learning
outcomes of the course and how these were to be manifested in students’ writing (Anson et al 2012). For
instance, the transfer from laboratory work to report text remained tacit as students were uncertain about
how to integrate laboratory results into their texts. The context investigated is viewed through an academic
literacies lens and the concepts of normative and transformative (Lillis and Scott, 2007). These concepts are
relevant here because the study exemplifies challenges when collaborating to find ‘possibilities of
transformation’ in writing assignments (Lillis, Harris, Lea and Mitchell 2016, p. 11) and because an English‐asa‐
medium‐of‐instruction (EMI) context tends to face tensions between the normative and transformative.
The study contributes to the field of integrating content and language (ICL) and to studies of academic
literacies in EFL higher education contexts.