E Marcia Johnson, our guest blogger, has been the Director of the Centre for Tertiary Teaching & Learning (CeTTL) since 2012. Coming from a background in eLearning and Applied Linguistics, she has taught and researched in Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. Marcia and her team have introduced a number of cross-disciplinary, cohort-based initiatives to improve the student experience of learning, particularly doctoral writing and academic integrity. In particular, their weekly Doctoral Writing Conversation has facilitated the development of a range of strategies to help PhD students become successful thesis writers.
By E Marcia Johnson
Given the increasingly large, diverse cohort of doctoral students in many New Zealand and Australian universities (and elsewhere), additional pressure is being placed on academic staff to supervise more and more students. However, the rhetorical demands of thesis writing are quite specific, with Carter (2011) proposing that doctoral writing is its own literary genre. A strong case can thus be made for generic thesis writing programmes to be offered by specialists with expertise in writing; such programmes could not only aid students’ emerging thesis writing competence, they would provide welcome support for supervisors. What I’ll describe in this post is an example of what can be done as part of a generic thesis writing programme (the Doctoral Writing Conversation (DWC)), but – importantly – the underlying reasons for doing it. Continue reading