Skip To Content

emulation group

The role of academic writing in the bachelor's study

Linguistic education in technical universities is a position requiring constant "investments", expressed in new technological and methodological approaches that allow imitating the language environment, increase motivation for self-education, make the learning process personally important for students. Universities, as units responsible nationwide for the training of qualified personnel, are taking more and more initiatives to improve the quality of language education in universities. This is expressed in the search for innovative teaching methods, new organizational forms, taking into account the best world practices, in updating the content of training to minimize the discrepancy between the competences declared in educational standards in relation to the English language and the knowledge and skills that are formed and developed by graduates in the process of studying English language.

The analysis of educational standards, as the basic documents in the preparation of engineering personnel at various levels, showed that for each area of ??training bachelors in engineering and technology, language competence is defined, for example:

  1. knowledge of English at a level not lower than spoken;
  2. English language skills sufficient to read and understand the original literature on the speciality;
  3. knowledge of English at the level of reading and understanding of scientific and technical literature, communicate in oral and written form in English;
  4. knowledge of English at the level of everyday communication, understanding of the main terminology of the sphere of their professional activity;
  5. knowledge of the second language at a level allowing to work with scientific and technical literature and participate in international cooperation in the field of professional activity;
  6. the ability to freely use English at the level necessary to perform professional tasks.

It can be noted that the above language competencies correspond with the professional, academic spheres of the future specialist's activity, with the skills to work with scientific and technical texts, to understand and be able to extract from them actual meaning, to introduce new knowledge into professional activity. In this connection, there is a need to revise the approaches to training in the field of professional communication with shifting emphasis to the development of written communication skills, namely the development of academic writing skills, which includes "the ability to navigate the information flow, request, analyze incoming information, process and transform it , owning the tools of the Internet. "

If we turn to the foreign university experience, we will notice that many foreign universities, understanding the importance of academic skills, develop the academic literacy of students within the framework of specialized university courses, where one of the central places is assigned to the course of academic writing. Such attention to the letter as one of the key academic skills is caused, first of all, by the fact that in foreign universities the knowledge and skills of students are controlled in the form of written works, mainly academic essays. For example, at the University of Chicago, students write at least one page of analytical text per week for each of the courses that are being mastered for a "quarter" (11 weeks), not counting more extensive work, usually two for a quarter for each course. p>

In many countries, academic writing is just beginning to occupy its niche, there is a gradual realization of the importance of this aspect for the successful integration of students into an international, professional, scientific environment. In addition, the strengthening of the research component in the educational activity of bachelors, which is expressed in the writing of diploma, course, project works, including on the basis of analysis of literature sources, participation in international conferences with writing scientific articles, theses of reports determine the urgency of developing academic writing skills speech.

At the same time, it is necessary to understand that academic teaching writing should not be directed solely at developing written speech skills in the academic field but should include a set of tasks aimed at increasing the academic literacy of students in general. In other words, it is associated with the development of both cognitive (hypothesize, suggesting one's own idea, analyzing information, reworking and compressing the compositional-semantic structure of the text, organizing and structuring one's own ideas) and linguistic ones (abstracting, rephrasing, formulating and expressing thoughts using language tools at the level of the sentence, paragraph, text) skills. Also important is the knowledge of templates, formats, academic writing standards, typical for the design of the scientific text of a particular field of knowledge. Taking into account the fact that "the majority of students receive the first experience of publishing the results of independent research work at the university. Therefore, acquaintance of students with international standards, presented by authoritative publishers to scientific publications for this or that branch of knowledge is of great importance".

When organizing the process of teaching academic writing, it is necessary to take into account that training, traditionally, is based on two approaches: a) a product-oriented approach (called in the foreign method as the product approach to the teaching of writing), b) an approach oriented on the process (the process approach to the teaching of writing).

The first approach, which is the most traditional, also called the textual approach, is related to the receptive form of instruction since it implies the use of the finished text as some pattern, a template. Let's consider the stages of work using this approach: a) presentation of the sample text; b) its comprehension, analysis, manipulation of the text at the level of language design and content; c) writing "parallel text. Considering the positive and negative aspects of this approach, it is worth noting the fact that the development of writing skills can be reduced to copying text with the replacement of some language patterns, which does not develop the written speech of learners as a productive skill. On the other hand, the genre features of the academic style of speech imply a certain element of stereotyped news in terms of the structure of the text, its organization, there are also peculiarities in the use of certain grammatical structures, lexical expressions corresponding to the format of scientific publication, which justifies the use of this approach in teaching academic writing. p>

The second approach, referred to in the foreign method as "the process approach", emerged as an alternative to the first approach and in the foreign methodical literature finds widespread acceptance and application. The main attention in using this approach is given to the process of creating text, the chain of thought operations carried out by students from the generation of ideas and information retrieval, to editing and publishing their own text. Using this approach, the learner feels freer in expressing thoughts, the process of writing is perceived as a creative activity, which is little correlated with the template letter and reproductive activity. It will be fair to note that in the foreign methodical literature "the process approach" finds wide acceptance and application.

On the one hand, his personal-oriented aspect is an undeniable advantage of this approach, because the main focus is shifted not so much to the final product (essay, abstract, article, review, diploma, thesis, monograph, etc.) as on the personality of the learner, his needs, the opportunity to express his point of view. On the part of the teacher, this is a demonstration of respect for the point of view, experience, "cultural identity" of the learner in evaluating the work. On the other hand, most of the available teaching materials are oriented towards reproductive writing activities. In addition, it seems difficult to combine the freedom and creative expression of the students' thoughts with the standard and uniformity of academic texts. This approach seems to be effective in situations where the trainee already has a positive experience in writing academic texts, publications, for example the category of listeners, called "adult learners". However, for most bachelors, the ability of academic writing is not sufficiently developed even in the native language.

As difficulties encountered by students in writing written works, they were noted: "inconsistency of the expression of thought, numerous deviations from the topic, lack of a plan for presentation, the text is written in accordance with the course of thought, the terms appear in the text without definitions, lack of references on primary sources, citations, inaccuracy in the provision of bibliographic information. " Also, the confirmation of the fact that the ability of academic writing is not sufficiently formed by bachelors is the result of a survey conducted among bachelors of 3, 4 years of study. The purpose of the survey was to provide an opportunity for students to independently determine the share of personal contribution in the essay on the discipline "Professional English". The learners had to assess in percentage terms (1% - 100%) their personal contribution to the essay in English, in other words, the proportion of their own reasoning. Of the 49 students in 43 students, the share of plagiarism was more than 50%, which indicates the absence or low percentage of their own reflections. Only 6 of the 49 respondents had a share of their own reflections and borrowed, but paraphrased fragments accounted for more than 60%. Thus, the vast majority of students do not possess the skill of abstracting, which is the key to teaching academic writing.

Of course, the obtained data can not be interpreted as scientifically grounded, for the reason that the sample is not large enough and the results themselves were not subjected to mathematical processing. However, the above information can be used to construct a training course, where the combination of the two approaches "the product approach", "the process approach" when teaching academic written speech is optimal, but taking into account the level of language training of the learner, the stage of training, individual characteristics. In addition, "the peculiarity of teaching students of a non-linguistic university is that English is not a profile discipline as in a language university, therefore, it requires the integration of the discipline" English language "with profiling disciplines, the building of a learning technology based on intersubject communications."

Continuing to consider approaches and ways of developing the skills of academic writing, it is important to note the relationship between academic reading and academic writing, where the first is a means of developing the second. V. Loban, based on the analysis of the written works of the students, established a regularity, expressed in the fact that students with good reading skills had written skills at a high level. F. Smith argued that reading the text, understanding its structural and semantic bases, style can further serve as a stimulus for using such a text as a model, a sample for writing your own text.

So, it is necessary to recognize that the program on the discipline "Professional English" is fairly unified, based on the description of the qualification in general, and does not reflect the specifics of foreign-language written discourse in the academic field and the professional sphere for each specialty. However, the advantage of modular training, which is widely used today, is the ability to supplement, replace, remove, without disturbing the learning logic, those blocks of training material that do not fully meet the needs of the engineering industry. According to this logic, the development of the skills of academic writing can be carried out as part of the main course, as its optional element, or be taken for self-study within the framework of the CDS.