Embedded provision to develop source-based writing skills in a Year 1 health sciences course: How can the academic literacy developer contribute?
Abstract This study reports on provision to assist students in the health sciences develop knowledge and skill in locating, evaluating, and synthesising sources to use as supporting evidence for the argument essays they are required to produce for first year courses at a university in New Zealand. Students were provided with support in the form of documents, tutorials, online discussion and structured assignment tasks, as well as through embedded instruction offered collaboratively by subject lecturers, an academic literacy developer, and a library professional. The provision was traced over students' first semester, and perspectives of staff and students elicited. Findings revealed that although it was generally evaluated as relevant and helpful, a number of problematic issues were identified related to information-sharing and the need for explicit instruction in linguistic and communicative components aspects of academic writing. The latter was evident in omission from the provision of topics such as disciplinary conventions, rhetorical purposes of citations, options for how to cite, and integration of sources into personal academic arguments. Findings suggest that the inclusion of opportunities to develop awareness of aspects of source-based writing in Year 1 and throughout students' undergraduate years would help them master this complex, multifaceted skill set.