Susan Gollagher
Learning to give feedback on texts

EAP teachers are used to being the expert in the classroom. Although many favour the relatively egalitarian atmosphere of a constructivist approach to learning, we are positioned as experts, in command of the relatively simple topics in EAP text books. Teaching an English for Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP) class can be disconcerting, particularly if a teacher with a Humanities background has students doing research higher degrees (RHD) in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

ESAP courses are common; however, while much is known about effective feedback on writing, little advice seems to be available for EAP teachers learning to give feedback on texts about unfamiliar academic disciplines. This workshop will look at concerns expressed by a group of new ESAP teachers and explore what their STEM RHD students expect in constructive feedback on their Writing drafts. After experiencing a classroom teaching activity in which we analyse a published paper and a draft Writing Assignment by a UQ Marine Biology PhD student, we will brainstorm advice to give to our concerned new ESAP teachers and hone our own ability to give useful feedback on STEM draft papers—despite any ‘incomprehensible’ content.

Sue works at The University of Queensland Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education. She has a particular interest in ESAP and has over 25 years’ experience delivering specialised programs to enhance the communication skills of students and researchers in a wide range of countries. In her role as Senior Teacher for Concurrent Support Programs, she has developed support courses for students in university programs such as Engineering and Development Planning. Currently, she is focusing on meeting the professional development needs of ICTE-UQ teachers working on support courses for PhD students.