Academic writing development
This special issue explores ways of promoting writing development in online environments. Part 1 investigates strategies for supporting collaborative writing online. Part 2 examines online feedback pedagogies, including peer review. Part 3 focuses on research writing support, including writing groups. Part 4 discusses inclusivity in writing development, both within curricula and across national boundaries.
Part 1: Collaborative writing online
This section focuses on how we can enhance learners’ opportunities for collaborative writing online. O’Shea and Fawns share their expertise in fostering group dynamics to tackle the tricky task of facilitating students’ production of collaborative assessments using online environments. Lund and Williams examine ways of fostering students’ engagement in collaborative writing, reporting on their study of using a wiki to enhance learners’ experiences of writing development based upon a premise of digital literacies.
Part 2: Feedback for student writers
This section examines how we can support student writers working in online environments. In particular, the authors discuss how we can help learners become more self-directed through tools available in digital environments. Anderson and Bergman shift the focus to student-led feedback, reporting on their seminal study of Swedish and North American students’ use of peer review to support each others’ writing across linguistic and cultural boarders based upon authentic tasks. Robson discusses feedback practices, unpacking how we can enhance students’ use of the feedback they receive in online environments based on the model adopted at the Open University in the UK.
Part 3: Research writing development
This part of the journal moves into the realm of supporting research writers. Haas concentrates on strategies for developing researchers through group initiatives. She surveys ways of supporting writers, and makes a convincing case that this is not a daunting task. To compliment Haas’ advice, this section contains a case study revealing the outcomes of a writers’ group for international researchers at taught postgraduate level. Alzyood, Okoli, Waite and Lansdown discuss the role of a writing group within a wider structure of dissertation supervision, and highlight the benefits for diverse learners of this group-based pedagogic approach.
Part 4: Structures and support
The concluding section addresses two fundamental issues for writing developers in contemporary higher education. Connelly, Barnett, and Sumner share their expertise in writing support for learners with dyslexia. This insightful paper demystifies the topic of dyslexia, which is often overlooked in mainstream collections about writing development. Their article represents a springboard, which may release you to explore new ways of making your own learning and teaching more inclusive. Lovegrove explains in a fresh and accessible manner how to exploit technologies to bring together scholars and practitioners interested in writing development. She showcases how to run a virtual conference, attending to the use of online tools, preparing participants, and trouble-shooting. This article brings together the pedagogic concerns shared by the authors in this special edition and demonstrates how we can draw upon our own expertise to sustain for ourselves a virtual community of practice.
In keeping with the focus for this special edition, Greethurst has reviewed Trevor Day’s Success in Academic Writing. This text is aimed at the cross-discipline University level academic writing. Greethurst provides a comprehensive overview and review of this text.
Writing development in higher education
By bringing together these articles on writing development for undergraduates, researchers, and teachers, this special issue invites readers to consider how the boundaries between these areas could be more fluid. As a whole, the collection offers insight into for writing development in a variety of contexts, and raises awareness of the discipline of academic writing in its own right, and as part of the core business of contemporary higher education.