Approaches to Teaching Writing 19

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Abstract

A p p r o a c h e s t o t e a c h i n g w r i t i n g The lecturer's dilemma Iain, a psychology lecturer, became interested in the role of writing in his students' learning for 'selfish reasons'. When reading his students' writing, Iain found it difficult to distinguish between their understanding of the subject matter and their expression of ideas and arguments. This problem drove him to investigate how to improve his students' academic writing abilities. A key issue that he identified was the need for students to be able to argue and defend positions in the field of psychology in their writing. Currently, Iain and other lecturers in his department are working to build academic writing instruction into the structure of their psychology courses. At the university level, disciplinary knowledge and understanding are largely exhibited and valued through the medium of writing. Students can begin to understand the significance of writing by becoming aware that writing takes particular conventional forms in different contexts. How can both subject lecturers and writing specialists help students understand the issues related to academic writing, which include taking a stance, developing an argument, addressing a specific audience, and choosing the appropriate writing style? How can we help students in the often-difficult process of writing itself ? This chapter outlines many of the issues facing subject lecturers and writing specialists when considering how to help students improve their writing. We aim to: • introduce text-based approaches to teaching general features of writing that characterise different text types, their structure and rhetorical purposes; • consider the rhetorical purposes of text types, particularly the notion of 'argument' in relation to rhetorical purpose in academic writing,

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