ASRW Student Learning Project

Reflecting on Writing Across the Disciplines: Evaluating student learning in Arts Studies in Research and Writing

In 2015–2016, Dr. Kate Power researched student learning outcomes in Arts Studies in Research and Writing (ASRW), with a view to learning more about what new knowledge our current students are gaining from ASRW’s required courses, and the extent to which this knowledge is being used in other courses and contexts. Participating students in WRDS 150 and ASTU 40A wrote a short reflection assignment (600-800 words), describing their own writing in ASRW courses. Selected students then participated in small group discussions about what they learned in ASRW courses, and participating faculty members were interviewed separately about their perceptions of student learning outcomes within ASRW courses.

Term One WRDS 150 student reflections point to the following results:

  • Academic writing was the most common learning outcome identified by participating students, accounting for just over one third (35%) of all responses. Specific outcomes in this category included: learning to cite and “orchestrate” scholarly sources, adopting a scholarly style, writing at appropriate levels of generality/specificity, choosing when, how and why to use (or not use) the personal pronoun “I” and other, characteristic features of academic discourse, such as modality, nominalization and definitions;
  • Various personal growth outcomes were the second most commonly mentioned outcome (17%). These included: growing in critical awareness and confidence, and learning when and how to ask for help. Students also displayed considerable emotion (affect) about their writing, which Dr. Rea and Dr. Power are now exploring further.
  • Other learning outcomes included
    • theoretical understandings, including: recognizing differences between high school and university writing, viewing academic writing as joining the scholarly conversation on a particular topic, upholding academic integrity, recognizing the influence of context on writing practices.
    • practical knowledge about conducting academic research, including: choosing a research topic by identifying a gap in existing scholarly knowledge, and using the library to find appropriate resources; and
    • familiarity with specific academic genres, notably literature reviews, summaries, and proposals/abstracts; and
    • academic reading, including: analyzing scholarly articles, identifying the main point of an article, and note-taking.

In addition, nearly half of all participating students reported having used new knowledge gained in WRDS 150 in other contexts – including UBC courses, extra-curricular activities, everyday life – before they had even finished the course.

Results from Term Two WRDS 150 student reflection, faculty interviews and ASTU 400a student reflections will be posted here when they become available.

Please contact Dr. Power, if you have any questions about this study.