Facilitating the Acquisition of Critical Writing Skills? An Exploration of Pedagogical Practices Within a Business School at a New University in the UK


  • Martin Andrew Percy The University of Westminster




This case study of writing practices at a Business School at a “new university” attempts to ascertain whether a constructivist and dialogic pedagogical approach is utilised in order to facilitate the acquisition of critical writing practices among predominantly undergraduate non-traditional students. Constructivist learning theory assumes that knowledge is constructed by individuals through a phenomenological subjective interpretation of experience. Hence learning is a dialectic process resulting from a synthesis between preconceived ideas and reflections on experience. It is assumed that a student-centred dialogic approach to teaching is likely to facilitate learning and the acquisition of the higher critical skills within the disciplinary context. Therefore, dialogic feedback plays a crucial role in the learning process and guidance on the pre-writing tasks of selecting and evaluating source material, planning, feedback and disciplinary interpretations of criticality are likely to have an impact on the production of academic texts. The research triangulated semi-structured interviews with academics and students and incorporated an examination of educational artifacts. The paper concludes that assumptions of the unidirectionality of student-teacher relationships and a perception that the acquisition of critical skills is external to disciplinary practice may have mitigated against a truly dialogic approach to facilitate critical writing. In addition, the increasing marketisation of higher education and promotion of generic attributes to produce employable graduates has seemingly led to an emphasis of reproducing institutional normative perspectives and writing practices, thus blurring the distinction between education and training.