Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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Making connections through reflection: writing and feedback in an academic literacy programme

Stella Granville, Laura Dison


This paper describes the writing and feedback processes in an academic literacy course for first-year students in an extended studies programme at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. We argue that feedback together with metacognitive reflection form a ‘vital link’ between students’ early experiences of a learning situation and the growth of understanding needed to make that learning meaningful. And feedback is not simply about refining the pedagogic tools used  by teachers to give feedback – it requires the active engagement of the students themselves who must make the connections between the goals of learning, the classroom activity and the feedback. The research described in the paper further attempts to demonstrate that metacognitive reflection is key to helping students engage actively with feedback. At carefully chosen moments in the learning/writing process, students need time to pause, stand back and reflect on what they did well or badly. Continuous phases of action, feedback and reflection help students to integrate what is taught and in so doing they learn  to take responsibility for their own progress. Data from a case study of one student’s progress over a period of three months is described.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2009, 27(1): 53–63
AJOL African Journals Online