Teaching thesis writing: Policy and Practice at an Australian University
Jan Skillen and Emily Purser
University of Wollongong, Australia
As an indicator of serious engagement in an academic discourse, thesis writing enjoys universal recognition. While its importance in higher education is unquestioned, the need to teach students how to write a thesis (let alone what method to use) has been less generally accepted. In Australia, explicit instruction in thesis writing was rare until quite recently, but is now widespread and becoming almost mandatory. This paper briefly explains the shift and describes how the teaching of thesis writing is approached at the University of Wollongong. UoW’s major provider of academic skills instruction – Learning Development – supports student learning across both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, and is recognised within Australia as an innovative and leading provider of quality methods and resources for instruction in language, literacy and learning in tertiary education. The paper outlines some key strategies and techniques that the LD unit uses to teach thesis writing, and indicates the impact of its practices on students and supervisors. While critical discussion of the theoretical bases of its work is invited, the focus of this paper is on describing the unit’s practices.