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SEED projects 2017 – Writing, Writing Everywhere

Embedding writing for employability in Arts

Jennifer Frost

Assoc Prof Jennifer Frost

Assoc Profs Jennifer Frost and Jennifer Lees-Marshment (Faculty of Arts)

This project aimed to contribute to the embedding of writing for employability in Arts. Academic writing is central to our current curriculum, assessment, and graduate profile at the University of Auckland and we are committed to teaching these writing skills across the curriculum as well as scaffolding them across the stages. Alongside this academic and disciplinary focus, we sought to develop teaching capacity and materials for workplace writing and to disseminate materials/resources and assessment strategies for our colleagues to fit a range of Arts programmes.

Our initial SEED grant was “topped up” with Faculty of Arts funding, enabling us to hire two research assistants. Our achievements included: Gathering scholarly literature on teaching workplace writing, reviewing this literature, and cirulating findings from this scholarship; Gathering materials for teaching and learning workplace writing in a range of Arts programmes and organising and uploading them to our employability website (housed within the Faculty of Arts intranet and accessible to our colleagues); Piloting new types of writing assessments in two history courses as part of a historical role-play game. We were surprised at how successful these new assessments were, particularly the team-based writing.

This project was intended and designed to contribute to the learning of students throughout the Faculty of Arts. For the history students in Jennifer Frost’s course, the introduction of individual and team-based workplace writing met with acceptance and acclaim. Their verbal and written feedback showed they appreciated moving beyond the traditional essay to write, as part of our ‘game’, newspaper stories, speeches, responses, reflections, and email messages both in character and as themselves.

Although Jennifer Lees-Marshment already had expertise in teaching workplace writing, Jennifer Frost had much to learn. The literature review and summarising and implementing of findings were enlightening and enriching and encouraged new ways to teach writing in History courses. Now that we both have expertise in workplace writing, we have the capacity to support other colleagues beyond our disciplines to develop their expertise.

The project resulted in two websites, “Teaching employability in the Arts: resources and guidance” (for staff) and “Careers and Employability in the Arts for students”.