Writing is a complex skill that most students need to master to achieve academic success. Students who have good writing skills often perform better in exams, essays and assignments, which can open up a lot of exciting opportunities. However, developing excellent writing skills isn’t always easy and takes practice, time and dedication. Here’s some strategies and techniques that you can use to help your students develop and improve their academic writing skills.
Practice, then practice some more
Most skills get better with constant, repetitive practice and writing is no exception. The more practice your students get, the better they will become and the more enjoyable the process will eventually become. Organise short daily writing sessions combined with slightly harder writing tasks for homework. Even though it may seem tricky to motivate your students at first, as they improve, they will find it much easier to write clearly and concisely. To keep it interesting, it’s also a good idea to diversify the type of writing- so mix it up between fiction, essays and short paragraphs explaining an idea.
Most successful writers are also keen readers. Try to make sure your students understand the importance of everyday reading, and realise the link between reading and writing. Alongside writing assignments, set reading material each week. Start by compiling a list of books/articles/essays for them to read, explaining how they can study the sentences, grammar and writing style. By doing this regularly, students will begin to see an improvement when it comes to their sentence structure, word choice and flow of work.
Share useful strategies
Lots of effective writing strategies such as how to write a solid introduction, how to research relevant sources, and what should and shouldn’t be included in a conclusion aren’t always obvious to students. It’s crucial these useful techniques are shared with students and taught in a clear and concise way so they can apply them to their own work. Hosting writing strategy workshops every so often that cover these areas in depth will provide an excellent opportunity for students to practice and learn these important skills. In addition, give students a list of useful resources they can refer back to. Here’s a few we recommend:
Use examples of good writing so you can discuss what makes these pieces of work so effective. This helps students identify the elements of good work, which helps them become conscious of these elements in their own work. Try to find different approaches of writing for the same assignment, as this will demonstrate the creative scope students can have over their work. When going through the examples, it’s also crucial to emphasise the importance of grammar, sentence structure, quality of writing and construction of content.
Perfect the approach to writing
Having an effective approach to writing tasks is just as important as the writing process itself. Communicating and demonstrating the key activities involved before and during writing will help students create a strong piece of work and achieve academic success. Here’s some of the activities your students can adopt as well as some questions they can ask themselves when tackling a writing assignment.
Who is my audience?
What am I trying to convince them of?
What do I want to say, and what evidence can I use to back it up?
How can I provide a counter argument?
Key writing activities
If there is a question involved in the assignment, it’s important to first break it down and understand exactly what is being asked.
Next start to write down and develop key ideas, notes and a brief structure before starting to complete the task in hand.
Finding a clear focus and thesis will often be the difference between a good and a great essay. Write down some ideas and find some corresponding references that can be quoted to back up key themes.
Start writing a first draft.
Once a first draft is complete, it’s important to seek feedback and comments.
After feedback has been given, it’s time to revise and edit the first draft by expanding ideas, clarifying meanings and reorganising the structure.
Reading work aloud
Finally, one of the easiest strategies to help students develop their academic writing skills is to get them to read their work aloud. Not only does it help students listen to the flow of their writing but makes it easier to spot grammar issues or spelling mistakes. A very simple but effective technique!