Examining engagement with an online toolkit for academic writing in blended-learning initial teacher education programmes

Irene O'Dowd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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The Academic Writing Toolkit was developed by Hibernia College in 2017 in response to feedback from both faculty and students of the College's Primary and Post-Primary ITE masters programmes. This feedback indicated a need for guidance and instruction on academic writing that was both student-teacher focused and distance-learner focused. Designed for asynchronous online delivery, the Toolkit covers standard academic writing skills such as referencing, grammar, formatting and style. It also provides tailored guidance on reflective writing, assessment writing and dissertation writing from teacher education experts. Such writing practices form a crucial component of teacher formation by fostering skills in reflective practice and critical thinking (Day, 1999; Whitehead, 2000) as well as supporting the development of teacher self-identity as practitioner researchers (Stenhouse, 1975; Argyris & Schön, 1976). This paper summarises the theory and principles guiding the Toolkit's design and draws on a study of quantitative and qualitative data to obtain insight into students' usage patterns and their experience of the Toolkit. The study focused on Primary and Post-primary programme cohorts (n=315) and used data derived from a combination of user logs, online surveys (n=52) and student records. Ethical approval for this research was obtained from the College's Research Ethics Committee. Among the findings from the study were strong preferences expressed by students for instructional modalities that enhance the sense of teaching presence in online content (Garrison et al., 2000) and a scheduling approach that recognises the patterns and workload of distance-learning students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBlended and Online Learning: 'Changing the Educational Landscape': Overview of papers on Higher Education for the Future as presented during the Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference in Aarhus, October 2018
EditorsGeorge Ubachs, Fenna Joosten-Adriaanse
Place of PublicationMaastricht, The Netherlands
PublisherEuropean Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-79730-35-3
ISBN (Print)978-90-79730-35-3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2018
EventOOFHEC2018: the Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference: Blended and Online Learning: Changing the Educational Landscape - Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 10 Oct 201812 Oct 2018


ConferenceOOFHEC2018: the Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference
Abbreviated titleOOFHEC2018
Internet address


  • academic writing
  • Online learning
  • toolkit
  • learning analytics
  • initial teacher education
  • blended learning
  • distance learning
  • inclusiveness
  • reflection
  • teacher identity
  • teacher as researcher
  • teaching presence


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