Teaching Academic Writing: A Toolkit for Higher Education

Author(s) Caroline Coffin, Mary Jane Curry, Sharon Goodman, Ann Hewings, Theresa M. Lillis, Joan Swann
Publisher London, Routledge
Published 2003
ISBN 0415261368
Reviewed by Ray Huntley
Senior Lecturer in Primary Mathematics Education, Anglia Polytechnic University, Chelmsford
Review published 1 December 2004

This book is a toolkit of resources to support the development of academic writing in Higher Education. It is designed with the needs in mind of both students and their tutors, and provides thoughtful activities and readings to enhance the writing experience for all. It can be used by lecturers to support them in teaching the skills of academic writing to students across disciplines, or by students as a guide to features of good writing.

The opening chapter introduces the reader to key issues about writing in HE and an overview to both the content of the book and the backgrounds of the authors. The second chapter focuses on the technicalities of writing, considering purpose, audience, the elements of text and the process of writing in itself. In this chapter the style of the book as a toolkit is clearly set out and is extremely useful. There are sets of questions to reflect on about the writing process – heuristics – as well as activities to carry out which where appropriate link to the heuristics.

In the third chapter, examples are taken from different disciplines and analysed to see what makes up particular forms of writing, for example a scientific report, a literary analysis or any of the various types of writing which different subject areas use.

Chapters four and five consider the issues for assessing writing, both from the point of view of the student who wants to be aware of how their work will be assessed and also the tutor who has the task of assessing the writing fairly. The issue of giving feedback is also explored and suggestions are given which will encourage the development of formative feedback processes to improve students' writing.

The final chapter addresses the issues around the electronic environment including video-conferencing as a means of developing writing and the use of technology-based resources. In a particularly useful section, the authors discuss the issue of plagiarism, giving guidance to writers on how to avoid the pitfalls.

This book will be a useful addition to reading lists for teacher training programmes. It will stimulate readers to approach a variety of forms of academic writing with confidence, and if used well, will enable writing ability to develop effectively. I would recommend this book for both tutors and students.