Student preparedness for academic writing : an evaluation of the perceptions of preparedness for academic writing of school leavers taking English 178 at Stellenbosch University

Allardice, Seamus Rory (2013-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Student Preparedness for Academic Writing examines perceptions of student preparedness for academic writing in the first-year literary studies course, English 178, located in the English Department at Stellenbosch University. The research was conducted during 2011 and 2012 making use of a survey which was completed by the 2011 first-year English 178 class, and also utilising a series of interviews with students, tutors and lecturers in 2012. Preparedness for English 178 is framed in terms of Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of socially constructed habitus. In addition to the thought of Bourdieu the thesis draws on the writings of Peter Elbow, Arlene Archer and Pamela Nichols, among others, to analyse and frame the quantitative and qualitative information yielded by the study. The dissertation assesses multiple interlocking elements that comprise student preparedness and finds striking discrepancy between student perception of their preparedness and that of the lecturers and tutors. While tutors, lecturers and the report of the National Benchmark Test all suggest that at least half of all first-year students are poorly prepared for academic writing, only about 21% of students perceive themselves to be poorly prepared. Possible reasons for the difference in views between students and other sources are explored. The thesis concludes by asking if the English 178 course at Stellenbosch University truly tests the students’ academic writing abilities and if the course is balancing its “obligations to students [with the]… obligation[s] to knowledge and society” (Elbow 327).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie verhandeling ondersoek persepsies van studentevoorbereidheid vir akademiese skryf in die eerstejaars-letterkundekursus, Engels 178, gesetel in die Departement Engels aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch. Die navorsing is gedurende 2011 en 2012 gedoen deur gebruik te maak van ’n vraelys wat deur 2011 se Engels 178-eerstejaarsklas voltooi is, asook van ’n reeks onderhoude met studente, tutors en lektore in 2012. In hierdie verhandeling word voorbereidheid vir Engels 178 in terme van Pierre Bourdieu se konsep van sosiaal gekonstrueerde habitus beskryf. Benewens Bourdieu se denke word daar ook na die werke van onder andere Peter Elbow, Arlene Archer en Pamela Nichols verwys om die kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe inligting wat uit die studie voortgekom het, te ontleed en te situeer. Die verhandeling assesseer die veelvuldige ineengeskakelde elemente wat studentevoorbereidheid omvat, en bevind ’n opvallende teenstrydigheid tussen studente se persepsie van hulle eie voorbereidheid en lektore en tutors se persepsie van studente se voorbereidheid. Terwyl tutors en lektore se ervaring en die Nasionale Normtoetsverslag alles daarop wys dat ten minste die helfte van alle eerstejaarstudente swak voorbereid is vir akademiese skryf, beskou slegs ongeveer 21% van studente hulself as swak voorbereid. Moontlike redes vir die verskil in beskouings tussen studente en ander bronne word ondersoek. Die verhandeling sluit af met die vraag of die Engels 178-kursus aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch werklik studente se akademiese skryfvaardighede toets, en of die kursus wel ’n ewewig handhaaf tussen verpligtinge teenoor studente en ’n verantwoordelikheid teenoor kennis en die samelewing (Elbow 327).

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80193
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