Using collaboration and past essays to improve research, reading, writing and referencing skills. Ian Badger & Steve Dixon-Smith (teachmeet abstract)
Using collaboration and past essays to improve research, reading, writing and
Ian Badger, University for the Creative Arts, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Dixon-Smith, University for the Creative Arts, email@example.com
Making Information Literacy sessions relevant and useful to first year students who are about
to embark on writing their first essay at university is a challenge, especially at an arts
institution where the students are primarily interested in the practical element of their course.
Working alone, I can only meet part of the CILIP (2004) definition of Information Literacy
and therefore provide only part of the support students need to complete their first essay. By
collaborating with my colleague, a Learning Development Tutor, I can provide a more
holistic approach to Information Literacy that explores all aspects of academic work in one
workshop, from research to reading to writing and referencing.
Working together we created an approach to helping students with their first written
assignment that is based around using past essays. Slade Jr. (2010) demonstrates how this
technique is effective as students find it useful to see the skills they are expected to
demonstrate in their essay.
Students are also introduced to the unit’s learning outcomes and the marking criteria on
which they will be assessed. They are then asked to mark a past essay against the criteria,
which encourages them to evaluate the breadth and quality of the work. They have the
opportunity to improve the bibliography of the past essay by carrying out research in the
workshop. Once they have found relevant material, students can also make suggestions to
improve aspects of the essay by developing arguments and adding new references.
The aim of my Teachmeet presentation is to look at the positives and negatives of
collaboration. I will also share practical tips on how to apply this technique, summarise
feedback and evaluation from the workshops, and highlight the effectiveness of using past
essays to help students prepare for their assessments.
CILIP. (2004) Information literacy – Definition. At: http://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/advocacy-
Slade Jr., J.R. (2010) ‘The student-authored essay as a teaching tool’ In: Journal of the
Scholarship of Teaching & Learning 10 (3) pp.31–40.