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Preparing undergraduate students to be successful writers: exploring the spelling, grammar and punctuation skills of students identified as potentially ‘at risk’
Journal of Academic Language and Learning (2016)
  • Keith McNaught, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Geoffrey Shaw, The University of Notre Dame Australia
Abstract
The utility of direct instruction in the mechanics of language for improving students’ writing has long been a topic of debate among linguists and learning advisers. The research recounted here arose from concerns of staff working with enabling program students on the Fremantle Campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA). Students were frustrated with their limited knowledge about spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and staff wondered whether this gap was in fact responsible for students’ poor performance in writing tasks. To explore this, the authors analysed Post Entrance Literacy Assessments (PELAs) of 94 commencing students identified as ‘be-low benchmark’ in writing to determine the extent and nature of errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Finding correlations between errors in these skills and low-scoring PELAs, the authors infer that direct instruction in these skills would be worth offering to ‘at risk’ students. They examine the historical reasons why this has been neglected in Australian education, and argue that the anti-prescriptivist ideology which has prevailed in Linguistics for past decades should not dominate the teaching of English to the detriment of students’ development of writing skills.
Disciplines
Publication Date
2016
Citation Information
Keith McNaught and Geoffrey Shaw. "Preparing undergraduate students to be successful writers: exploring the spelling, grammar and punctuation skills of students identified as potentially ‘at risk’" Journal of Academic Language and Learning Vol. 10 Iss. 2 (2016)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/keith-mcnaught/2/