How do I support and assess students on the development of their writing skills?

Writing skills are essential for learning and professional life, and there are many ways students can be supported to develop these skills.

In order to engage effectively with others in a community of inquiry and in professional practice, students need to learn to communicate well in a range of written forms. Depending on their disciplines or professions, these forms may include research reports, briefings, reflective reports, articles and many more. Students also need to be aware of the conventions of written communication such as academic integrity. Assessments that help students to develop these writing skills provide great opportunities that enhance student learning across their chosen disciplines.

We can support students in the development of writing skills by designing assessment tasks that incorporate guidelines or scaffolding. We can also provide early or timely formative feedback on their written work while it is still in development. This gives students the opportunity to incorporate feedback, address issues and improve into their work before their final submission.

One way to support the development of writing skills is to create a low-stakes task such as a project proposal before a higher stakes task. You can create Canvas rubrics to deliver rich feedback by incorporating links to academic skills resources.

Another way to support the development of writing skills is to provide students with guides and templates explaining the components or development processes or components of particular written forms.  One tool for this is Cadmus, an online written assessment environment, accessed through Canvas and integrated with Turnitin and Gradebook. You can use Cadmus to set up assessment tasks that simplify the process of delivering academic skills support. Templates can be used to create learning-centred assessment tasks, with instructions and support resources provided to students up-front or progressively. Once assessment tasks are deployed, you can track student engagement and provide cohort-level feedback, proactive course correction and academic integrity risk mitigation. In the student environment, students are supported through the task, interacting with university curated academic skills guides and learning prompts. Students write their plan, notes and submission in the web-based text editor. Students can submit their work as a draft or a final submission, accessing Turnitin Similarity Reports, feedback and grades.

What are the advantages?

For students

  • Benefit from assessment tasks designed to support learning and academic skill development
  • Plan, take notes and write their submission in the web-based text editor
  • Access University academic skills and learning guides as they work
  • Benefit from learning scaffolds and prompts to encourage good practice, such as paraphrasing, citing
  • Access Turnitin Similarity Reports as they work, using these to improve research and referencing methods
  • Submit proposals, drafts and/or final submissions and access feedback and grades within Canvas

For educators

  • Easily create learning-centred assessment tasks, and draw on a library of Cadmus Templates
  • Streamline administration by setting-up assessment tasks upfront, with automatic trigger points
  • Attach files and web-links, such as academic skills resources and rubrics
  • Manage submissions, view Turnitin Similarity Scores, and access marking through the in-built Class List
  • Use Turnitin Feedback Studio to grade submissions and deliver feedback directly to students
  • Track student engagement with academic skills guides, learning resources and student feedback
  • Access Cadmus Learning Analytics to measure the effectiveness of teaching and learning

Support and resources

These guides show how to set up Cadmus for your assessments:

Unimelb guides

Vendor guides


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