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The Role of Written Feedback in the Development of Critical Academic Writing: A Study of the Feedback Experience of International Students in Taught Master’s Programmes

Soden, William (2013) The Role of Written Feedback in the Development of Critical Academic Writing: A Study of the Feedback Experience of International Students in Taught Master’s Programmes. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Despite the body of research on the learning experience and challenges faced by international students in developing critical academic writing, little attention has been given to their experience of formative and summative written feedback. Published studies of feedback in UK higher education have been mainly undergraduate focused, based on survey methods, with little research on feedback in the context of particular programmes or on student experience over a number of related feedback events. This study investigated the impact of written feedback on critical academic writing in two Master’s programmes at a northern university in the UK. The research, based on case study interviews and a grounded theory approach, explored tutor intentions and student responses to feedback, with additional content analysis of feedback reports. The findings reveal that written feedback is unsuited to conveying the tacit nature of critical academic writing and that varying motivation and strategic engagement can also marginalise its role. In the wider context of internationalization, the case studies highlighted how a depersonalisation of the assessment process can result from marketization and large cohorts of international students. The importance of academic culture for engagement with feedback was evident, but large culture explanations were less important than specific teaching and learning regimes. Wide variation in tutors’ beliefs and practices were linked to tensions between teaching and assessment roles, highlighting the need for more tutor dialogue around feedback. The study argues for more attention to developing critical academic writing through showing rather than telling (exemplars), and through dialogue around feedback and other modes of feedback delivery (audio feedback), since such approaches may strengthen personal relationships between tutor and student and lead to fuller engagement and motivation. This thesis makes a contribution to research on feedback and the international graduate student experience. It argues for more attention to the processes that feedback supports, and suggests that inter-disciplinary, one-year Master’s programmes can place unrealistic demands on international students, implying the need for a longer transition to enable them to achieve the level of critical academic writing expected of them.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Taught Master's, formative feedback, international students, critical academic writing, assessment for learning
Academic Units: The University of York > Department of Education (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.628567
Depositing User: Mr William Soden
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2014 14:54
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:31
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6985

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