Individual Consultations: Academic Writing Outcomes for International Students
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Responding to calls for research into measurable English language outcomes from individual language support consultations at universities, this study investigated the effect of individual consultations (ICs) on the academic writing skills and lexicogrammatical competence of students who speak English as an additional language (EAL). Attendance by 31 EAL students at ICs was recorded, and samples of their academic writing texts before and after a 9-month interval were compared. Participants’ academic writing skills were rated, and lexico-grammatical irregularities were quantified. No statistically significant positive shifts manifested, due to the relatively short research period and limited participant uptake, but there were encouraging predictors of future shifts given continued utilization of the service. First, although a Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed no association between attendance at ICs and shifts in academic writing ability, a Spearman’s rho calculation suggested a tentative relationship to positive pre–post shifts in three academic writing sub-skills: Task Fulfillment, Grammar, and Vocabulary. Second, instances of four common lexico-grammatical irregularities (subject/verb, wrong word, plural/ singular, and punctuation) declined at post-testing. Although only regular, sustained attendance would produce statistically significant shifts, there is a potential association between participants’ use of ICs and improved academic writing skills/lexicogrammatical competence.
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