A resource for the teaching and learning of workplace writing

This project’s resources were originally developed for students of History 241/341 Making Sense of the Sixties: The USA 1954-1973, Politics 206/315 The Practice of Politics and History 257/357. The project was implemented by Jennifer Lees-Marshment from Politics and International Relations and Jennifer Frost from the History department of the University of Auckland.

These resources might be useful to teachers and students of workplace writing.

The project was supported by the SEED Fund grants for 2017.

For similar projects, see: From Thinking Like a Manager to Writing Like a Manager.


Project background

As Jennifer Frost explains: “This project aimed to contribute to the embedding of writing for employability in Arts.  Academic writing is central to our current curriculum, assessment, and graduate profile at the University of Auckland and we are committed to teaching these writing skills across the curriculum as well as scaffolding those skills across the stages.  Alongside this academic and disciplinary focus, we sought to develop teaching capacity and materials for workplace writing and disseminate materials/resources and assessment strategies for our colleagues to fit a range of Arts programmes.”


Project reflection

Frost reflects: “Overall, the project went very well.  With our initial SEED grant and “topped up” with Faculty of Arts funding, we hired two research assistants.  Together with the work of the Principal Investigators, accomplishments included:

1) Gathering of scholarly literature on teaching workplace writing, a review of this literature, and findings from this scholarship to be circulated.
2) Gathering of materials for teaching and learning workplace writing in a range of Arts programmes, organised and uploaded to our employability website housed within the Faculty of Arts intranet and accessible to our colleagues.
3) Piloting of new types of writing assessments in History 241/341 Making Sense of the Sixties: The USA 1954-1973 and History 257/357 (Jennifer Frost) as part of a historical role-play game.  What was unexpected was how successful these new assessments were, particularly the team-based writing.”

This project was intended and designed to contribute to the learning of students throughout the Faculty of Arts, and we will be disseminating these findings to progress that.  For the history students in Jennifer Frost’s course, the introduction of individual and team-based workplace writing met with acceptance and acclaim.  They appreciated moving beyond the traditional essay to write, as part of our ‘game’, newspaper stories, speeches, responses, reflections, and email messages both in character and as themselves.  Their appreciation was evident in verbal and written student feedback during the semesters.

Although Jennifer Lees-Marshment already had expertise in teaching workplace writing as part of her POLS 206 The Practice of Politics, Jennifer Frost had much to learn.  The review of literature gathered, and then summarizing and implementing findings was enlightening and enriching and encouraged new ways to teaching writing in History courses. (You can see a summary of the literature review below.)  Now that we each have expertise in workplace writing in our respective subjects, and having worked together on this issue, we have the capacity to support other colleagues beyond our disciplines to develop their expertise.

This initative will absolutely continue beyond the grant period. The next phase is disseminating our findings in the Faculty of Arts and supporting colleagues who want to pilot these new strategies and assessments for teaching and learning writing.  We also will be holding workshops for students that will include workplace writing.  Jennifer Frost is also considering writing a scholarly article about team-based workplace writing through role-play in History courses, as there is no literature on this aspect of historical role-play pedagogy.


Project Resources

An online resource created by the project team: ‘Teaching Employability in the Arts: resources and guidance’ can be found here.

That website has also been adapted to serve as a student resource, ‘Careers and Employability in the Arts for students’ which can be found here.

Additionally, please find below, Jennifer Frost’s summary of key findings from her literature review on ‘Differences between Academic and Workplace Writing.’

Although both academic and workplace writing aim to inform and persuade and use similar rhetorical strategies, they also differ in key ways.  Both experiences and types of assessment useful for students:

  • Academic essay and structure v. varied formats and structures
  • Written and read in private conditions/setting v. public conditions/setting
  • Individual process and product v. collaborative process and product
  • Audience of one reader v. audience of many readers
  • Goal of getting grade v. goal of evoking action/reaction
  • End in itself/static v. part of a process/dynamic

Collaborative writing involves a variety of writing and pre- and post-writing tasks and roles.  Division and completion of tasks requires skills of team work and communication.

  • Research
  • Notetaking
  • Planning
  • Drafting
  • Revising/editing
  • Proofreading
  • Publishing/presenting

Other resources of note include the following journal articles:

LeeAnne Kryder, ‘Reconciling Writing in Academic and Workplace Settings’ in Writing on the Edge, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring 1995), pp. 47-54.

David Slomp, Roger Graves, Bob Broad, ‘(Re-)Mapping the System: Toward Dialogue-Driven Transformation in the
Teaching and Assessment of Writing’ in Alberta Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 60, No. 3, Fall 2014, 538-558.

Skip menu