Original Research

First-year students’ essay writing practices: Formative feedback and interim literacies

Emmanuel Esambe, Cina Mosito, Subethra Pather
Reading & Writing | Vol 7, No 1 | a87 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v7i1.87 | © 2016 Emmanuel Esambe, Cina Mosito, Subethra Pather | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 June 2015 | Published: 02 March 2016

About the author(s)

Emmanuel Esambe, Centre for Higher Education Development, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa, South Africa
Cina Mosito, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa, South Africa
Subethra Pather, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

The varying literacy standards that undergraduate students represent are a reflection of their interim grasp of academic literacy (Paxton 2007). The aim of this study is to analyse a small group of undergraduate first-year students’ depiction of their interim grasp of academic writing and to reflect on how lecturers use formative feedback to respond to specific issues regarding students’ academic transitions within their discipline. Using an emancipatory methodology, this study was designed as a participatory action research. Qualitative data from focus group interviews with lecturers and photovoice presentations by first-year dental technology students were used to explore how students demonstrated their interim grasp of academic essay writing in a Health Science department at a university of technology. However, this article, which is part of a broader study, analyses a small class of first-year students’ depiction of their interim grasp of essay writing and reflects on how their lecturers use formative feedback to respond to these students’ academic transitions within their discipline. Using activity theory and morphogenetic realist theory to analyse essay writing activities during an intervention, the study reveals that images are potent artefacts that students and lecturers use to build meaningful dialogue during essay writing in an uneven terrain.

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