‘I feel that this writing belongs to a different kind of text, but if this is gonna get me a better mark…’: High-achieving Students’ Encounters with Multi-disciplinary Writing
High-achieving students are not often the focus of studies in academic transition. In the UK, the driver has frequently been the widening participation and retention agendas, resulting in an emphasis on supporting the ‘non-traditional’ student. This exploratory case study based in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at the <University> took academic writing as one aspect of transition and compared two transition points for undergraduate students of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL): from school or college into the first year and then into the year abroad as students adapt to expectations for dissertation writing. In a context where weekly tutorials arguably offer the ultimate space for development of student writing, the study unpacks students’ interpretations of institutional, disciplinary, tutor and genre-based expectations. The study drew on theories of academic literacies (Lea & Street 1998, Lillis & Scott 2007 and Russell et al 2009) by viewing writing as socially constructed and ‘literacy’ as dependent on disciplinary context. Findings revealed the significance of the multi-disciplinary nature of the MFL course to students’ ability to adapt to writing at university. It is suggested that a focus on the end product rather than the writing process might hinder the students’ ability to adapt to new expectations and make the most of their tutorial time.