Issues in assessing the academic writing of students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds: Preliminary findings from a study on lecturers’ beliefs and practices

Issues in assessing the academic writing of students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds: Preliminary findings from a study on lecturers’ beliefs and practices

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Issues in assessing the academic writing of students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds: Preliminary findings from a study on lecturers’ beliefs and practices

The question of how lecturers assess the written work of students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds is an important issue for Australian universities, as International andEnglish as a Second Language (ESL) students make up a significant proportion of the student cohort, and students’, academic success depends largely on their ability to demonstrate academic competence through written assessment tasks. The literature on this topic points to concerns that ESL students are being assessed differently to Native-English speaking (NS) students and that lecturers’, cultural expectations influence the grading of written work by students from different cultural backgrounds.The paper reports the preliminary findings from a study investigating how lecturers assess students’, academic writing. The study aimed to address the key questions:What factors inform or influence lecturers’, assessment of students’, written work? How ",tolerant", are lecturers to various ESL writing errors (i.e. ESL writing that deviates fromStandard Written English)? Do lecturers apply the same standards in assessing the written work of ESL and native English-speaking students?Issues to do with reliability, bias and equity are discussed in the paper and it is argued that continued research on assessment practices is essential in informing the , development of appropriate departmental and institutional assessment policies.

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