Measuring the outcomes of individualised writing instruction: a multilayered approach to capturing changes in students' texts

Erik Borg, Mary Deane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


In a highly competitive higher education environment where resources are limited, educators are increasingly concerned with providing evidence for the effectiveness of teaching interventions, including one-to-one writing support. This article offers a model for analysing the changes in student writing as a result of individualised writing instruction. The multilayered approach to textual analysis proposed here concentrates on five aspects of academic writing that students need to master during the first year of tertiary level education. The model is illustrated with reference to a first year student’s assignment. The application of the model allows for a systematic description of changes students make to their draft assignments, and the evaluation of whether these changes were consonant with the topics discussed during tutorials. The rationale for measuring student revisions is both to inform teaching and tutorial practice, and to provide valuable information for senior managers seeking to identify effective ways of enhancing students’ academic literacies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-331
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Author's note: This paper proposes a multilayered analysis of student writing to show change from one draft to another in order to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention, such as a one-to-one writing tutorial. This model of analysis is intended to facilitate management evaluation of writing support interventions and to inform the process of delivering writing support so as to increase its effectiveness.
This paper frames the importance of carefully evaluating writing support interventions in the context of a sector challenged to demonstrate with evidence the effectiveness of such interventions. It then suggests a procedure that can be used to compare an early draft of a student assignment with a draft completed after support. The procedure involves analysing the paper based on factors considered important by lecturers, which lead to improved results for students.
The procedure brings together a variety of analytic tools to create a multilayered method that can be used to analyse drafts of written texts.
This is an electronic version of an article published in Teaching in Higher Education 16 (3), p.319-331. Teaching in Higher Education is available online at:


  • individualised writing tutorials
  • revisions
  • first year students
  • feedback
  • analysis of revision


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