Embedding students’ academic writing development in early-career disciplinary lecturers’ practice


  • Lisa McGrath Sheffield Hallam University
  • Helen Donaghue
  • Raffaella Negretti


This study proposes a theoretically grounded and resource-efficient triadic model with the aim of supporting early-career subject lecturers in learning how to understand discipline-specific academic writing and teach it to their students. The model constitutes a ‘bottom-up’ collaboration process among a subject lecturer, an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) lecturer, and an academic developer. Adopting a case study approach, qualitative data were collected at multiple points in the process and were analysed using both thematic and linguistic analysis. Results indicate that the collaboration's genre-based, dialogic and egalitarian nature enabled the subject lecturer to grow her understanding of students’ writing development. She acquired some metalanguage to conceptualise and articulate her expectations in terms of her students’ assignments and was able to co-create learning tasks. Our study contributes novel insights into debates around where and how students’ academic writing development should be delivered, and, importantly, early-career lecturers’ role in that delivery. Finally, we propose an extension of the EAP lecturers’ remit to encompass working with early-career subject lecturers in a developmental role.

Author Biographies

Lisa McGrath, Sheffield Hallam University

Lisa McGrath is associate professor in educational linguistics at Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University. She has published widely in the field of English for Academic Purposes and English for Research and Publication Purposes. Her work has appeared in journals such as Higher Education, Teaching in Higher Education, Journal of Second Language Writing and Applied Linguistics. Lisa serves on the editorial board of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Helen Donaghue

Helen Donaghue is a senior lecturer in academic development at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. She has published in the fields of academic development, teacher education and applied linguistics. She is the co-author with Fiona Copland of Analysing Discourses in Teacher Observation Feedback Conferences (Routledge Studies in Applied Linguistics). Her work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Pragmatics, Modern Language Journal, and Journal of Language, Identity and Education.

Raffaella Negretti

Raffaella Negretti is professor in educational psychology and applied linguistics at Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Communication and Learning in Science. Her research spans academic writing, metacognition, and genre pedagogy, appearing in many prominent international journals. Raffaella currently serves as associate editor of the Journal of Second Language Writing.




How to Cite

McGrath, L., Donaghue, H., & Negretti, R. . (2023). Embedding students’ academic writing development in early-career disciplinary lecturers’ practice. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 17(1), 134–151. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/939



Research Articles