Advanced academic writing: in search of sustainable instructional support methods

Olga Firssova*, Sarah Schildermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Graduate and post-graduate student writing is seldom if ever a stand-alone exercise in learning to write. It is deliberate effortful practice in meaningful writing tasks similar to authentic tasks of researchers and professionals. It involves getting and processing feedback from experts and peers and writing and re-writing texts based on such feedback. Instructional support remains useful or is even imperative in graduate and post-graduate curricula as students explore new genres, write for new audiences, prepare for and engage in thesis writing. To be sustainable, i.e., to effectively support students in their development towards expertise in academic writing within the limited curricular space, such support should combine deliberate practice with affordances for self- evaluation, monitoring and self-directing writing.
This paper will present and elaborate on a study that investigated affordances of a task based assessment rubric as a tool for writing support in the context of an Educational Science Masters’ program. It was hypothesized that stimulating agency in planning and organizing one’s writing with the help of a rubric that provides benchmarks of expected writing performance and affordances for self-assessing and revising the text will positively influence writing performance and increase writers’ self-efficacy. Students using the rubric indeed scored higher on writing performance than students who received a task based instructional prompt. Systematic text analysis of writings suggested that students using the rubric were better in structuring and organizing their texts. No increase of self-efficacy was found. The study did not focus on long-term effects, nor on what writers actually did with rubrics, what lessons they drew from using them.
Nevertheless, the study yielded concrete and feasible results and food for thought for instructional practice. It demonstrated that succint and available tools like assessment criteria and rubrics are worth experimenting with in the context of advanced student writing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2020
EventFirst International Online Conference on Academic Writing: Blurring the lines: academic, professional, and popular writing - Online, Tel Aviv, Israel
Duration: 7 Jul 20207 Jul 2020
Conference number: 1st


ConferenceFirst International Online Conference on Academic Writing
Abbreviated titleIFAW2020
CityTel Aviv
Internet address


  • academic writing
  • instructional support
  • assessment
  • rubric


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