Academic Writing: Anxiety, Confusion and the Affective Domain: Why Should Subject Lecturers Acknowledge the Social and Emotional Aspects of Writing Development Processes?

  • Amanda French Birmingham City University
Keywords: academic writing, writing development, emotional support, disciplinarity, situated writing practices, affect


After working in Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) in the United Kingdom for over thirty years, and completing a doctoral thesis on the subject of lecturers’ perceptions of academic writing in HE (French 2014), it became very clear to me that many students and lecturers (although that is a subject of another paper) experience the processes of producing academic writing in very physical and emotional ways. In this paper, I will be discussing how my students often articulated the intensity and emotional nature of their academic writing experiences using words like ‘fear’, ‘frustration’, ‘outrage’, ‘exhaustion’ and ‘yearning’. This emotion and strength of feeling drew me to consider the relationship between the development of a positive writing identity and the affective domain. Subsequently, in my practice as a tutor in HE, I incorporated the affective domain into my work and seek here to stimulate debate with subject lecturers about how important emotions, even negative emotions like confusion and anxiety, can be to the development of a positive academic writing identity for students. The paper argues that, by using the affective domain as a pedagogic springboard, subject lecturers can formulate more collaborative, supportive and emotionally sensitive communities of writing practice.

Author Biography

Amanda French, Birmingham City University
Birmimghna City University, Associate Professor