Volume 42, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Is oral feedback on thesis writing from supervisors and academic literacy advisors (ALA) based on writing criteria, such as the MASUS (Measuring the Academic Skills of University Students) criteria (Bonanno & Jones, 2007)? The study aimed to investigate the distribution of supervisory and ALA oral feedback in terms of the five MASUS Areas. These Areas of writing were used to analyze fortnightly meetings between two L2 English doctoral candidates and their supervisors (eight meetings) and an ALA (eight meetings). The findings showed that the feedback moves were distributed across the Areas and most moves were produced in multi-Area episodes. However, compared to the ALA, the supervisors covered the Areas less comprehensively, used fewer single-Area episodes, and combined sources with structure. The article concludes that oral feedback on thesis writing is criterion-based, and supervisors can inform their feedback and develop their students’ skills by employing tools such as MASUS.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aitchison, C., Catterall, J., Ross, P., & Burgin, S.
    (2012) ‘Tough love and tears’: Learning doctoral writing in the sciences. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(4), 435–447. doi:  10.1080/07294360.2011.559195
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2011.559195 [Google Scholar]
  2. Aitchison, C., & Lee, A.
    (2006) Research writing: Problems and pedagogies. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 265–278. 10.1080/13562510600680574
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510600680574 [Google Scholar]
  3. Berry, L., Collins, G., Copeman, P., Harper, R., Li, L., & Prentice, S.
    (2012) Individual consultations: Towards a 360-degree evaluation process. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 61, A16–A35.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bitchener, J., & Basturkmen, H.
    (2006) Perceptions of the difficulties of postgraduate L2 thesis students writing the discussion section. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 51, 4–18. 10.1016/j.jeap.2005.10.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2005.10.002 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bitchener, J., Basturkmen, H., & East, M.
    (2010) The focus of supervisor written feedback to thesis/dissertation students. International Journal of English Studies, 101, 79–97. 10.6018/ijes/2010/2/119201
    https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes/2010/2/119201 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bitchener, J., Basturkmen, H., East, M., & Meyer, H.
    (2011) Best practice in supervisor feedback to thesis students. Wellington, New Zealand: The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U.
    (2009) The value of a focused approach to written feedback. ELT Journal, 631, 204–211. 10.1093/elt/ccn043
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccn043 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bonanno, H., & Jones, J.
    (2007) Measuring the academic skills of university students: The MASUS procedure, a diagnostic assessment. Retrieved fromsydney.edu.au/stuserv/documents/learning_centre/MASUS.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Brown, D.
    (2016) The type and linguistic foci of oral feedback in the L2 classroom: A meta-analysis. Language Teaching Research, 201, 436–458. 10.1177/1362168814563200
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168814563200 [Google Scholar]
  10. Cargill, M.
    (2000) Intercultural postgraduate supervision meetings: An exploratory discourse study. Prospect, 151, 28–38.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Carter, S., & Laurs, D.
    (Eds.) (2014) Developing generic support for doctoral students: Practice and pedagogy. London & New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 10.4324/9781315779119
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315779119 [Google Scholar]
  12. Casanave, C. P., & Hubbard, P.
    (1992) The writing assignments and writing problems of doctoral students: Faculty perceptions, pedagogical issues, and needed research. English for Specific Purposes, 111, 33–49. 10.1016/0889‑4906(92)90005‑U
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0889-4906(92)90005-U [Google Scholar]
  13. Chanock, K.
    (2007) Valuing individual consultations as input into other modes of teaching. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 11, A1–A9.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Chanock, K., Horton, C., Reedman, M., & Stephenson, B.
    (2012) Collaborating to embed academic literacies and personal support in first year discipline subjects. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 9, 31–13.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Cooley, L., & Lewkowitz, J.
    (1997) Developing awareness of the rhetorical and linguistic conventions of writing a thesis in English: Addressing the needs of EFL/ESL postgraduate students. InA. Duszak (Ed.), Culture and styles of academic discourse (pp.113–129). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110821048.113
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110821048.113 [Google Scholar]
  16. Cotteral, S.
    (2011) Doctoral students writing: Where’s the pedagogy?Teaching in Higher Education, 16(4), 413–425. 10.1080/13562517.2011.560381
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2011.560381 [Google Scholar]
  17. Danby, S., & Lee, A.
    (2012) Researching Doctoral pedagogy close up: Design and action in two Doctoral programmes. Australian Universities’ Review, 54(1), 19–28.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Dörnyei, Z.
    (2007) Research methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Dyson, B.
    (2009) Understanding trajectories of academic literacy: How could this improve diagnostic assessment?Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 31, A52–A69.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. (2014) Are onshore pathway students prepared for effective university participation? A case study of an international postgraduate cohort. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 81, A28–A42.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. (2016) EAP or genre-based? A comparison of two curricular approaches to the preparation of international students for university. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 111, 31–66.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Erling, E. J., & Richardson, J. T. E.
    (2010) Measuring the academic skills of university students: Evaluation of a diagnostic procedure. Assessing Writing, 151, 177–193. 10.1016/j.asw.2010.08.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2010.08.002 [Google Scholar]
  23. Halliday, M. A. K.
    (2004) An introduction to functional grammar (3rd ed.). London, England: Arnold.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Holder, G. M., Jones, J., Robinson, R. A., & Krass, I.
    (1999) Academic literacy skills and progression rates amongst pharmacy students. Higher Education Research and Development, 181, 19–30. 10.1080/0729436990180103
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0729436990180103 [Google Scholar]
  25. Jones, J., Gollin, S., Drury, H., & Economou, D.
    (1989) Systemic-functional linguistics and its application to the TESOL curriculum. InR. Hasan & J. Martin (Eds.), Language development: Learning language, learning culture (pp. 257-328). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Kumar, V., & Stracke, E.
    (2007) An analysis of written feedback on a PhD thesis. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(4), 461–470. 10.1080/13562510701415433
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510701415433 [Google Scholar]
  27. Lee, C.
    (2015) More than just language advising: Rapport in university English writing consultations and implications for tutor training. Language and Education, 29(5), 430–452. doi:  10.1080/09500782.2015.1038275
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2015.1038275 [Google Scholar]
  28. Li, S., & Seale, C.
    (2007) Managing criticism in Ph.D. supervision: A qualitative case study. Studies in Higher Education, 32(4), 511–26. 10.1080/03075070701476225
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070701476225 [Google Scholar]
  29. Paré, A.
    (2011) Speaking of writing: Supervisory feedback and the dissertation. InL. McAlpine, & C. Amundsen (Eds.), Doctoral education: Research-based strategies for doctoral students, supervisors and administrators (pp. 59-74). London, England: Springer. 10.1007/978‑94‑007‑0507‑4_4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0507-4_4 [Google Scholar]
  30. Roberts, M. L., & Reid, K.
    (2014) Using Bourdieu to think about the Tertiary Learning Advice Consultation. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 81, A70–A82.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Scouller, K., Bonanno, H., Smith, L., & Krass, I.
    (2008) Student experience and tertiary expectations: Factors predicting academic literacy amongst first-year pharmacy students. Studies in Higher Education, 331, 167–178. 10.1080/03075070801916047
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070801916047 [Google Scholar]
  32. Wilson, K., Li, L. Y., Collins, G., & Couchman, J.
    (2011) Co-constructing academic literacy: Examining teacher-student discourse in a one-to-one consultation. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 5(1), 139–153.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Wisker, G., Robinson, G., Trafford, V., Creighton, E., & Warnes, M.
    (2003) Recognising and overcoming dissonance in postgraduate student research. Studies in Higher Education, 281, 91–105. 10.1080/03075070309304
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070309304 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error