Predicting a student’s success in Health Sciences based on their academic writing skills


Writing skills underpin academic success in any tertiary course, irrespective of the discipline. Anecdotal evidence suggested that first year undergraduates in the Health Sciences frequently underestimate the importance of writing skills. This study explored the relationship between a student’s academic writing in their first semester of academic study, as assessed through a Post Entrance Literacy Assessment (PELA), and their performance in a core academic literacy unit, and an anatomy unit at the end of semester. The PELA was useful in identifying students with deficient writing skills, but did not reliably predict overall performance in the literacy unit. Students identified as “at risk” by PELA testing failed to engage with optional academic support programs. This led to increased collaboration between colleagues in the Academic Enabling Support Centre and Health Sciences to instigate a School wide policy change making it compulsory for any “at risk” student to attend support workshops.


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The Authors:

Associate Professor Gerard Hoyne

Professor Keith McNaught