Moeilijker, langer, serieuzer | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 37, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1573-9775
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1236



This study explores assumptions and expectations expressed by novice university students about writing in an academic setting. Knowledge of these notions and beliefs among students at the transition of secondary to higher education may help university teachers to design learning activities that enable academic newcomers to distance themselves from naive or biased renditions of texts and writing, and to come to grips with the intricacies of the discourse practices in their new environment. The data are drawn from a corpus of meta-writing assignments performed by 118 students in their first year at university during the first week of a freshman course in academic communication skills. Our findings confirm and substantiate the presumption that, when expressing their thoughts about writing in an academic setting, novices predominantly convey issues related to ‘surface features’ (e.g. text length) or broad, general characteristics that are not specific for writing in an academic context. When considering ‘deep features’, some novices emphasize their unfamiliarity with, or even anxiety about writing practices in their new environment. A minority articulates quite realistic notions about the instrumentality of texts in academic communities.


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