Enhancing the Academic Writing Skills of First-Year English Second Language Students at a South African University
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Scaffolded collaborative
academic writing centre
first year English second language students
academic writing skills

How to Cite

Mdodana-Zide, L., & Mukuna, K. (2023). Enhancing the Academic Writing Skills of First-Year English Second Language Students at a South African University. Journal Of Curriculum Studies Research, 5(2), 206-222. https://doi.org/10.46303/jcsr.2023.27


The transition from high school to university for first-year students is challenging in academia, globally, and locally. Students must continually provide quality content at university and possess organisational and coherent language skills in writing essays and assignments. They should meet expectations such as demonstrating their academic writing skills, showing meaningful writing, which includes reasoning, and drawing readers’ attention to the pertinent facts. For a few decades, academic support programmes, including writing centres, have been introduced in South African universities to assist first-year students in academic writing. Despite establishing these programmes, poor academic writing persists in many South African universities among first-year students. Therefore, this study explored how the Academic Writing Centre, as a collaborative scaffolded approach, could improve the academic writing skills of first-year English Second Language (ESL) students at a South African university. The study adopted a quantitative method through a descriptive research design. A questionnaire was used as an instrument for data collection. Fifty first-year students who were registered for the Senior and Further Education and Training phases at the faculty of education of a South African university were chosen (N=50; males=14, females=36). Descriptive results revealed that the Academic Writing Centre could be considered a collaborative scaffolded model to improve the academic writing skills of first-year ESL students. The study recommends exploring writing support centres and lecturers further as essential tools that can assist students in socialising the link between entry and the discourse of university subjects’ academic requirements.

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