Two years ago, the Western Cape branch of the Literacy Association of SA ran a very successful workshop with CPUT education students on writing academic essays. Then, with lockdown and the added stresses that this put on the students, CPUT lecturers asked if there was a possibility that this workshop could be offered online, as they were finding that students were struggling with putting together their essays, particularly with the lack of face-to-face support.

As we have our course offering on our FunDza platform, we offered to help develop and host this course – it is the kind of content we would like to offer to all our readers, many of whom are in tertiary education. So FunDza and LITASA worked together to create a short course for CPUT students on Writing academic essays that a group completed as part of their coursework. This was a ‘closed course’, meaning that only people who were given the course code could enter it. We saw it as a pilot that we thought we could analyse and improve and then add it as one of our permanent courses next year.

The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with all chapters being rated highly helpful by most of the 112 participants, and with most of them saying that they felt much better prepared to write an academic essay after completing the course.

We will decide whether to keep this as a very short course (just five ‘chapters’) or extend it when we add it to our permanent collection. Feedback would be very welcome for any academics who are interested in getting their students to access the course.

Here are some last words from some of the participants:

  • The content gave me a strategy on how write a good academic essay. It also showed me some of the reasons why I get low marks on my essays.
  • The information I got from this content is much helpful for me. It will will help me to do better on my academic essays and it taught me how to reference as I was struggling with that for so many years. A lot will improve from my writing I believe.
  • the course has really helped me in my writing as i was not very confident and would sometimes get stuck when it came to writing.
  • I found this very helpful as I was struggling especially with the introduction of writing an academic essay. I have learnt so much about referencing because I never knew much about it, though I found some tips. I wish they could be more activities such as this as I enjoyed reading, answering and having a feed back on all of my answers.