Enhancing students’ development of academic writing skills in selected colleges of education in Zambia.

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Chishala, Kasakula Maureen
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The University of Zambia
This study sought to establish what Colleges of Education were doing to ensure that student teachers have requisite academic writing skills in English. The following objectives were addressed: (1) to ascertain whether student teachers were adequately exposed to writing relevant texts at secondary school level, (2) to investigate what colleges of education were doing to help students understand specific academic writing requirements at college level, (3) to establish support mechanisms used by Colleges of Education to promote student teachers’ development of academic writing skills, (4) to evaluate lecturers’ feedback practice on written assignments at college level and (5) to ascertain whether lecturers had requisite skills to effectively teach academic writing. The study adopted an emergent mixed method design. Data was collected through interviews, focus group discussions, assignment of a task and document analysis. Participants included 5 lecturers and 100 students drawn from five selected Colleges of Education. In this study, it was established that secondary school graduates admitted into colleges had not been adequately exposed to writing relevant texts as foundation for academic writing. It was further established that efforts towards optimizing student teachers’ academic writing skills were largely limited to the compulsory teaching of Communication and Study Skills. However, the methods used appeared to have limited students’ opportunities for meaningful participation and engagement to effectively master the skills. It was also found that colleges had various support mechanisms that provided students with a favourable environment for developing academic writing skills. However, guidance was lacking in how students could maximize the benefits of the support mechanisms available. Besides, the support mechanisms put in place appeared to have given less attention to lecturers’ capacity building for academic writing instruction. The study also found that lecturers’ feedback practice on students’ written assignments involved drawing students to their weaknesses and strengths through comments, minimal marking and rubrics. However, feedback, purpose, focus and mode, were not comprehensive enough to effectively support learning. It was also established that lecturers did not adequately possess the required skills to effectively teach academic writing. Some of the recommendations made in this study are that student teachers’ deficit in basic writing skills should be addressed on their entry into college to strengthen the foundation for academic writing. Lecturers should always ensure that feedback given to students is balanced in purpose, mode and focus to enhance students’ learning. Colleges of Education should consider devising academic writing support programme for lecturers to guarantee effective teaching of academic writing in colleges.
Doctor Of Philosophy Degree In Literacy And Language Education
Teachers--Academic writing skills. , English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching. , Report writing--Study and teaching (Higher) , Study skills. , Teachers--Writing skills.