Finance Discipline Group
UTS Business School
University of Technology, Sydney

Working Paper Series

Reducing the Expectations Gap: Facilitating Improved Student Writing in an Intermediate Macroeconomics Course
Author(s): Peter Docherty, Harry Tse, Ross Forman & Jo McKenzie
Date of publication: November 2006
Working paper number: 150
This paper reports on the implementation of a pilot program aimed at improving student writing in a intermediate macroeconomics course. The Program attempted to reduce what is labelled the expectations gap between student and academic perceptions of what constitutes "good writing". This was done in two ways, Firstly, a range of resources designed to describe the characteristics of good writing was provided to students who were helped to structure their writing according to these characteristics. A series of academic literacy workshops formed the centerpiece of this strategy. Secondly, markers themselves were briefed on these characteristics and an approach to marking based upon them was negotiated. The impact of this program on student writing was very promising. Students who attended the academic literacy workshops performed better in the first of two written assignments than those who did not, controlling for general ability. These students were less likely to fail and more likely to be awarded a grade at Distinction level or above. The paper also identifies a number of important areas that need to be developed at the next stage of implementation including better integration of published writing huidelines and sample papers into the workshop curriculum, and collection of more qualitative data to suppliment the quantitative evaluations the paper offers.
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