Finance Discipline Group
UTS Business School
University of Technology, Sydney

Working Paper Series

Title:
Improving Student Skills in Essay Writing and Oral Presentations
Author(s): Tiffany Hutcheson
Date of publication: April 2008
Working paper number: 152
Abstract:
In most subjects that students complete as part of a Business or Commerce degree they are typically assessed by way of submitting a written essay and sitting for an exam. A student should be able to show in their written essay that they understand topics covered in the subject and have gained knowledge whilst writing the essay. Unfortunately, lecturers have found that the standard of a large number of written essays submitted by both undergraduate and postgraduate students can be fairly poor and display varying degrees of plagiarism. When marking an essay it is often difficult to know whether a student actually understands what they have written in their essay. This occurs in essays written by local students as well as essays written by overseas students whose first language is not English. Students are often informed in their subject guides and lectures about the University assistance provided on essay writing and plagiarism; however it appears that they do not necessarily take up this assistance. This paper evaluates the impact in a business postgraduate subject of replacing the written essay component of assessment with a shorter written essay and requiring students do an oral presentation of their answer to the class. The students are provided with resources on assignment writing that provide assistance with essay writing and referencing as well as preparation and giving of an oral presentation. A quantitative analysis is undertaken to see whether the use of the assignment writing resources by students had an impact on their assignment mark and also if had an impact on the level of plagiarism found in the written assignments.
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