Lesson 8 of 8
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Key messages to take away

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We set up this course to encourage you to approach and teach writing differently with your students and also for yourself. We aim to show you how to scaffold writing in your module or course and set up a write to learn ethos in, through, and across and without the curriculum. We discussed examples and shared activities to undertake with students that will help deconstruct writing and other assessment tasks, formal and informal ones, and illustrated how you can develop student learning in the process, which is what this is all about. We have shared these across this course from collage making to free writing, from rich writing to image mediated dialogue and writing. We’ve invited you to use them in your practice and also use them to seed your own reflective practice. Without reflection, there is no learning. Without reflective practice, we don’t pass it on. It’s all within this course. We also highlighted how you can overcome students’ resistance to writing and what you may do to troubleshoot should the writing not progress as anticipated. On the way, we have encouraged you to reflect on your own writing and teaching practice, to rediscover the joy of writing for yourself and writing with others. We hope the course has encouraged you to approach academic writing differently, and to make write to learn part of your curriculum. And again that, write to learn, not learn to write. Thank you very much for joining the course and we hope you enjoy that and all the other offers from OneHE. Please remember to engage in the discussion below and we are really happy to answer any questions that you’ve got and encourage a dialogue. Again, thank you very much from Tom Burns, Sandra Abegglen and Sandra Sinfield, thank you.

  1. Writing is a learning process rather than a way of showing what you have learned. Treating writing ‘differently’ – as a process – liberates students to play with ideas and explore their learning. It helps break down the fear of writing and the fear of failure.
  2. Make your students aware that you are having a ‘write to learn’ focus across your whole module or course and that they will be writing regularly to learn the material, rather than just as a way of being assessed on the material.
  3. There are many ways to play with ideas and scaffold student writing that can be integrated into the curriculum. These can help to rediscover the joy of writing – and overcome writing blocks if they emerge. Utilising creative, playful, and multimodal approaches to writing leads to student understanding, active learning, and academic success.

If you are interested, you can find further inputs in a free open-access guide developed by Sandra Abegglen, Tom Burns, and Sandra Sinfield Supporting Student Writing and Other Modes of Learning and Assessment. A Staff Guide.

Thank you for taking this ‘Developing Student Writing: Write to Learn’ course which has been developed with Sandra Abegglen, Tom Burns, and Sandra Sinfield. We hope you have enjoyed it. Remember to mark all lessons as ‘Mark Complete’ to earn your Course Completion Badge.

Further reading:

Abegglen, S., Burns, T. & Sinfield, S., (2021). Supporting student writing and other modes of learning and assessment: A staff guide. Calgary; Prism.


Abegglen, S., Burns, T. and Sinfield, S. (2022). Supporting university staff to develop student writing: collaborative writing as a method of inquiryJournal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 23.

Abegglen, S., Burns, T. and Sinfield, S. (2018). Drawing as a way of knowing: visual practices as the route to becoming academicCanadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie, 28, pp. 173-185.

Burns, T., Sinfield, S. and Holley, D. (2004). Outsiders looking in or insiders looking out? Widening Participation in a post-1992 University, in J. Satterthwaite, E. Atkinson and W. Martin (Eds.), The disciplining of education: New languages of power and resistance. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books, pp. 137-152.

Elbow, P. (1998, 2nd). Writing without teachers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Elbow, P. (1998). Writing with power: Techniques for mastering the writing process. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Göpferich, S. (2016). Writing centres as the driving force of program development: From add-on writing courses to content and literacy integrated teachingJournal of Academic Writing, 1(1), pp. 41-58.

Lillis, T. (2001). Student writing, access, regulation, desire. London: Routledge. 

Molinari, J. (2022). What makes writing academic? Rethinking theory for practiceLondon: Bloomsbury.

Murray, D. (1972). Teach writing as a process not a productThe Leaflet, 71(3), pp. 11-14.


What change would you like to make to a current or future course in light of the ideas presented here?

Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.