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Reviewed by:
  • Teaching Academic Writing
  • Rebecca Ranjan
Friedrich, P., (Ed.) (2008). Teaching Academic Writing. York: Continuum. Pp. 264, US $29.95 (paper).

This collection of 10 essays, starting with a historical overview and moving to classroom pedagogy, offers well-grounded support and guidance to instructors of academic writing, particularly those who are new to teaching composition courses. The introduction by Friedrich relates to the current situation in most the academic institutions, where teachers in various employment categories often have hardly any contact with the main faculty. Friedrich makes a successful attempt to facilitate the transfer of experience and expertise from some of the established teachers in the field to all those teachers who are not getting the benefit of mainstream support to teach and evaluate academic writing courses.

The historical overview lays the foundation for subsequent chapters by tracing the growth and development of composition courses through historical perspectives and changing pedagogical approaches to their current status of a discipline. From there, it explores the differences [End Page 476] between teaching academic writing and teaching discipline-specific writing. The need for discipline-specific knowledge, the features of the genre, the importance of research-based teaching, and the need to work with subject specialists are well highlighted here. There is also a good list of sources and guidelines to help instructors in this area.

This is followed by various useful assignments and activities covering topics in information literacy, analyzing disciplinary discourses, developing research, and synthesizing information. These can be used as samples or successfully adapted to suit similar classroom situations. This section leads to a discussion on the value of following students’ progress through multiple drafts feedback and potential problems that can arise from the feedback given. Many helpful tips are given on when and how to give feedback; the benefits of giving the right feedback and the dangers of giving incorrect or poor feedback are also pointed out in his section.

No book on teaching writing is complete without describing the kind of writing support that can be provided to students. This book discusses services such as writing consultation, a collaborative approach, online solutions, and the Academic Phrasebank offered by the Language Centre of the University of Manchester to its international, undergraduate, and postgraduate students. It also examines the imperative to stretch teaching academic writing from its usual rhetorical design and structural and language correctness to multimodal composing, which will align classroom learning more closely to the future communication needs of students. It contains a section on designing assignments and instructional material using technological media. This will be very useful to all those who are switching from a traditional to a technology-based classroom.

The book illustrates the need to look into the socio-linguistic factors that affect non-native writing. It shows how critical perspectives can be shaped through action research that takes into consideration the number and types of these factors. The attention given to the multiplicity of student identities, the need to master cross-cultural communication, and the danger of making assumptions before conducting research highlights the value of research in education. This theme is further developed in a chapter that concentrates on the process, challenges, and advantages of using a community-based curriculum.

The book also looks into the issue of plagiarism in student writing and the need to inform students to avoid being accused of plagiarism. It emphasizes the specific aspects of the issue that teachers should focus on while educating students. [End Page 477]

Included as well are the topics of teacher induction. Steps are given along with their rationale to guide readers to design, in a way that suits their needs and situations, a one week orientation seminar for instructors.

Covering areas from teaching methodology to assessment, this book is a valuable reference source for new instructors and refreshing reading material for experienced instructors who would like to review their classroom strategies and evaluation methods. Even though it draws on US and British higher education systems and research on teaching academic writing, it fits well into the Canadian framework, which has a similar student community and learning needs. It can be used as a reliable guide by all instructors of academic writing. [End...


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pp. 476-478
Launched on MUSE
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