The State of Academic Writing in Kenyan Universities: Making a Case for Kenyan Universities to Re-conceptualize Their Approach to Teaching Academic Writing

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Alex Mwangi Chege David Njengere

Abstract

This study surveyed faculty and university students—both undergraduate and graduate—to find out how Kenyan universities approach teaching academic writing, the effectiveness of those approaches, issues with those approaches, and changes those institutions could make to effectively prepare students for the kind of writing they are expected to engage in at the university level. The study established that public universities and private universities in Kenya, except those with affiliation with American universities, teach writing through a Communication Skills (CS) course. The course has several limitations related to how it is structured (it is too broad) and how it is taught (the classes are too big). This study concluded that one CS course is inadequate to prepare students with the kind of skills they need to navigate academic discourse. The authors recommend that Kenyan universities retain the CS course as an orientation course focusing on study skills but introduce at least one course designated to teach academic writing. The authors also recommend Kenyan universities introduce a writing course within disciplines to familiarize students with writing conventions of their discipline. Universities should also offer a writing course for post graduate students.

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