Writing about Academic Issues

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ELLA 0230
Writing about Academic Issues
English Language Learning and Acquisition
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Seminar: 4 hours/week Lab: 1 hour/week
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  • whole-class instruction
  • large- and small-group discussion
  • pair work on tasks
  • peer review
  • computer-assisted learning
  • in-class writing
  • instructor feedback on written work
  • revision of submitted writing
  • monitor-led lab writing tasks


Course Description
This course is the second level of an academic series designed to help students upgrade their writing skills. It is most appropriate for students who have experience writing expository paragraphs, informal reflective texts and social messages and who have reasonable control of grammar and sentence structure. Students will work on improving their reading, composing and organizational skills for writing a short cause/effect essay, a summary, and a response about a topic related to education and academic life. Students will also work on revising and editing skills. They will be responsible for creating a portfolio of completed tasks over the course of the semester.
Course Content

Throughout the process of preparing for a range of college assignments, students will receive instruction in skills and strategies in the following areas:

Writing Skills

A. Prewriting    

  • Understand assignment instructions, including audience, purpose, and format.
  • Generate ideas from written and spoken texts on a topic related to education and academic life, such as practices at Canadian post-secondary institutions, student success and motivation, access to education, the nature of learning, digital literacy, or alternative education.
  • Select and narrow a topic.
  • Create an outline.

B. Writing

  • Develop and support one idea in a multi-paragraph composition.
  • Write well-structured introductory and concluding paragraphs.
  • Write a focused thesis statement.
  • Write a topic sentence with a specific controlling idea.
  • Develop unified, specific support in body paragraph(s) by discussing causes and/or effects, and by providing relevant examples.
  • Reduce information to key ideas in a summary with no major omissions, paraphrasing accurately.
  • Demonstrate an emerging level of critical thinking by responding to main ideas in a text and by relating ideas in a text to own experience or to ideas in other texts.
  • Use appropriate text organization and discourse markers to signal narration, description, extended definition, comparison/contrast, or cause/effect.
  • Create coherence within and between paragraphs using appropriate transition signals, pronoun references, conjunctions, and linking words and sentences.
  • Use a range of vocabulary, idiomatic language, and cultural references appropriate to the context.

C. Revising

  • Re-draft and revise with peer and instructor feedback.
  • Proofread, edit and re-draft on own.


  • Use the conventions of standard written English grammar for intra- and inter-clause accuracy.
  • Follow academic writing conventions for organization and form.
  • Use modals and real conditionals to express various levels of possibility, warnings, prediction, and advice.
  • Increase text density by extending the nouns with prepositional phrases.
  • Use complex sentences with adequate control.

Classroom Skills

Take responsibility for:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Class work and assignment
  • Participation and teamwork

Use common software to communicate and to complete information management tasks such as word processing assignments, sending emails, or signing in to an online learning management system.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, successful students will

Reading and Writing Skills

  1. Write at least 3 connected paragraphs about causes and/or effects of a topic related to education and academic life.
  2. Read about education and academic life to develop a full understanding of rhetorical patterns: narration, description, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect.
  3. Apply paraphrasing skills to write a summary of a text that is 1 – 2 pages long.
  4. Discuss main ideas of a text by writing a 1-paragraph response.
  5. Complete assigned lab writing tasks to a required level of mastery.
  6. Monitor and apply strategies to an instructor-specified level of accuracy in grammar, sentence structure, and word choice.

Study Skills

  1. Assess own progress.
  2. Participate effectively in a college classroom.  


Means of Assessment

Student achievement will be measured using formative assessment tools and the mastery system in accordance with College policy. Students will receive on-going feedback from the instructor throughout the course. Evaluation will be based on learning outcomes as well as instructor-specified criteria. Mastery will be granted to students who achieve an average of at least 70% on portfolio items listed below. Evaluation will include, but may not be limited to, completing the following tasks:

-A collection of writing practice assignments, demonstrating consistent attention to instructor and peer feedback. Assignments could include single and connected paragraphs, or group work resulting in individual written work.

-A collection of reading practice assignments in preparation for writing a summary, demonstrating comprehension of mostly familiar and partly predictable texts that are 1 – 2 pages long. Assignments could include question types such as short answer, multiple-choice, true/false, or gap-fill.

-At least 1 group project, taken from the project bank, such as the following:

  • a handbook/guide for new students about educational practices at a Canadian college
  • a newsletter describing a policy at a Canadian post-secondary institution, including reasons for it and effects on students
  • a class newspaper focusing on campus issues and events created with Read-Write-Think Printing Press or similar software
  • a school brochure summarizing events, facilities, and services, and explaining how these promote student learning and success
  • a blog on campus life, including events, facilities, online resources and services available for students

Within the project, groups of 3 students will be responsible for creating: a 1-paragraph article of up to 250 words that discusses causes and effects, a summary of a short text, and a 1-paragraph response/reflection.

-At least one in-class cause-and-effect essay that has at least 3 paragraphs and up to 600 words.

-At least one in-class summary of a new text that is 1 – 2 pages long.

-A complete record of weekly assigned lab tasks, such as short answer tests, paragraphs, paraphrases, summaries, short essays, group work, and discussion.

-At least 1 self-assessment of learning strategies, progress, and classroom skills (to be discussed with the instructor).


Sample grade breakdown:

Writing practice worth up to 20% (total)

Reading practice worth up to 10% (total)

In-class writing worth up to 30%

Final project worth up to 20%

Lab assignments worth up to 10% (total)

Participation worth up to 10%


Textbook Materials

Students may be required to purchase one or more of the following:

  • coursepacks
  • lab software
  • a dictionary, such as Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
  • textbooks at the CEFR B2 level, such as Cengage National Geographic Learning Great Writing 3 or Reading Explorer 3, Pearson LEAP Intermediate Reading and Writing, or Oxford Intermediate EAP



ELLA 0130 and ELLA 0140, or ELLA assessment





Which Prerequisite