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SEED projects 2017 – Writing, Writing Everywhere

Academic Writing at Auckland: A resource of annotated exemplary student writing

Neil MathesonNeil Matheson (Faculty of Arts)

Students new to university often find written assignments a challenge. A number of issues present themselves, including addressing the assignment question in the right way, structuring the answer, incorporating other people’s ideas appropriately, and writing clearly, concisely and in a suitable way for a particular discipline. While writing by academics can be used as a guide, the writing of other students provides an alternative and often more appropriate source of relevant academic texts at a level accessible for novice academic writers. This motivated Neil to develop a text-bank of proficient student writing to use as exemplars for other students.

Used initially to guide the ongoing development of an academic writing course at the University, the text-bank was made available online thanks to the support of the SEED grant. The resulting Academic Writing at Auckland (AWA) ( corpus contains a browseable database of different types of assignments from across the disciplines, produced by students at various undergraduate and postgraduate stages.

AWA includes essays, explanations, designs, creative writing, proposals, literature surveys, and research reports, among other types of writing. The papers are searchable by subject, genre and year level, and teacher-annotated comments explain seven commonly assessed features of writing: response to topic; structure; idea development; sources; referencing; coherence, and expression and style. These aspects combine to make AWA a unique academic writing resource. Students, teachers and researchers of academic writing at this university and in the wider community now benefit from this resource.