Adding to your tool kit: Academic Skills Resources
Written by Laura Airey
The Academic Skills Resources are a collection of resources focused on supporting the development of essential capabilities to support students in creating various forms of academic work. They can now be accessed through the Assignment Help tab in MyUni, making them available to all students and academic staff.
The core content is composed of a set of self-contained interactive modules, with each focusing on an individual academic skill. Additional writing and structuring tools are also included to supplement these modules. These resources were developed over 3 months in a consultation with the Writing Centre and University Library. Cecily Wright (Learning Designer) and I designed and produced the modules.
How were the Academic Skills Resources developed?
The initial development of the Academic Skills Resources was sparked by a conversation with Dr Rebekah Clarkson from the Writing Centre. Dr Clarkson explained some of the common issues and challenges students faced when asked to produce academic writing across the University. Many of these concerns, such as how to understand essay questions or effectively structure their work, could lead to significantly impacting their academic outcomes without the right guidance and support.
Drawing from my personal context, these challenges were familiar to me. As a first in family student from a rural background, I didn’t come to university with complete confidence in my skills and knowledge in academic writing, and needed assistance in refining these. In order for students to perform at their best, they need the basic skills and capabilities the assessments require, as well as the confidence and ability to apply these effectively to their work.
It can be easy to assume that students will come to university already equipped with the skills to undertake their assessments. However, each student will be approaching their work from a different educational background. It is not often so much a lack of knowledge or engagement in a subject that can be a challenge, but rather a gap somewhere in their skillset in how to apply this in an academic context.
The goal of helping students to develop a well-rounded academic skillset informed the development of these resources throughout. Because of this, these modules and tools have no assumed knowledge. Great effort was taken to ensure that the language used was clear and approachable for students, with tools such as the Hemingway App helping to streamline the process. Despite this, the content included isn’t simplified or lacking in detail. Rather, we’ve made the effort to present it in an accessible and scaffolded way to boost ease of engagement for all students.
The use of H5P made it possible to also incorporate interactive activities throughout. These allow students to test themselves and increase their engagement with the content further. Because we’ve built within H5P, all of these resources can be embedded within any MyUni course, further extending their potential use.
What purpose do they serve for staff & students?
As explained by the development process, these tools are designed for students who need some support in their academic skill development. The content has been created to be flexible enough to effectively support students with a wide variety of knowledge levels. This means that they can support students who are starting from scratch, or students who are simply looking to affirm that their existing knowledge base is sound. Additionally, the writing tools which assist in structuring content allow users to export their work as a Word document. This feature can help to kick-start the writing process for students who may find it daunting.
They also offer value to academic staff, as these central resources can be utilised to support their teaching. The skill-focused modules can be used to support tutorials focused on assessment preparation. In addition to this, they can also be recommended to students to access outside of tutorials to further support their learning.
Where to next?
Now that the Academic Skills Resources are available through Assignment Help, we intend to make the best use of this opportunity and offer a variety of additional content to support students. The resources created so far focus on building skills to support essay writing. However, we’re currently in the process of developing a module and a writing tool to assist students in reflective writing. For potential future projects, we’re exploring other common forms of assessment such as reports, presentations and group work.
These resources can also be customised for individual courses, with the content able to be adapted to incorporate specific essay questions. If you have a course that you would like to include customised resources in, please contact Joanne England. We are always happy to collaborate with academic staff.
The ultimate goal of this project is to provide differentiated support to students from all educational backgrounds. By providing these resources to support core skills, we hope to empower them to be self-directed and take ownership of their learning.
The Academic Skills Resources can be accessed via MyUni.
Laura is a Course Builder as part of the new Curriculum Design Project team, and works to create engaging & accessible online learning resources for staff and students. An alum of the University of Adelaide, Laura studied a double degree of a Bachelor of Teaching and Arts with Honours in English.