Best Practices for Writing Intensive Courses

March 08, 2023

Dr. Sepideh Fotovatian, Coordinator of Curriculum Development for the Department of Economics at SFU moderated a Panel Discussion on Best Practices for Writing Intensive Courses on Thursday January 19th from 3:30 – 5:00pm.

to listen to a recording of This discussion, please click here

Panelists and topics included:

Innovative alternative approaches to student assessment in disciplinary communication courses

Dr. Ismaeil Fazel (Lecturer, UBC)


Implications of private tutoring and AI language modelling for academic integrity  

Dr. Joel Heng Hartse (Senior Lecturer, SFU)

Designing disciplinary communication courses in higher education

Dr. Fiona Henderson (Professor, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)

The importance of adding disciplinary communication courses to the undergraduate curriculum

Dr. Maree Keating (Team Leader of the Learning and Academic Skills unit at Swinburne University, Australia)


Dr. Ismaeil Fazel, Lecturer, UBC


Ismaeil Fazel has a PhD in Language and Literacy Education and a sub-specialization in Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology from the University of British Columbia, and currently teaches at UBC-Ritsumeikan Academic Exchange Program and Vantage College at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Ismaeil has been actively engaged in the field of English for Academic and Professional Purposes for over 15 years now, serving in a variety of leading roles such as practitioner, assessor, teacher trainer, curriculum developer, and researcher. His publications have appeared in reputable journals including the System, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, and English for Specific Purposes. He has also published numerous refereed book chapters and a coauthored encyclopedia entry on English for Specific Purposes (Abrar-ul-Hassan & Fazel) in theTESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (2018).

Abstract: Innovative Alternative Approaches to Student Assessment in disciplinary communication courses

This presentation will address emerging innovative approaches to assessment in higher education, including learning-oriented assessment and specifications grading, which prioritize and promote student learning, indicating a shift in ethos from a measurement-oriented view of assessment towards a view of assessment for and as learning. These alternative approaches to assessment have attracted increasing attention in recent years and are argued to be conducive to increasing student motivation and achievement of learning outcomes and objectives. In this brief talk, after discussing the limitations of traditional approach to assessment, I will outline these new alternative approaches to assessment and their key characteristics, and will provide practical tips on their systematic and effective implementation in different contexts.

Dr. Joel Heng Hartse, Senior Lecturer, Simon Fraser University


Dr. Joel Heng Hartse is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. As an applied linguist who specializes in second language writing, his research interests include language variation and ideology, academic writing and publishing pedagogies, the globalization of English, and the intersection of academic integrity and academic literacy. His work has been published in journals including English Today, Across the Disciplines, and the Journal of Second Language Writing, He is the author of several books including Perspectives on Teaching English at Colleges and Universities in China (TESOL Press, 2015, co-authored with Jiang Dong) and TL;DR: A Very Brief Guide to Reading and Writing in University (On Campus Books/UBC Press, 2023). He is the current president of the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing.

Abstract: Implications of private tutoring and AI language modelling for academic integrity  

COVID-19 brought issues of academic integrity to the forefront like never before, and current trends in the private supplementary tutoring industry and artificial intelligence language modelling have made academic dishonesty more complex and difficult to detect. In this presentation I’ll share insights from my SSHRC-funded study ( about international students who pay for assistance with completing academic work, as well as addressing GPT, the now widely available AI language model that can allegedly “write” coherent academic essays. I’ll address implications of both of these for disciplinary literacy, learning, and academic integrity.

Dr. Fiona Henderson, Professor, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia


Associate Professor Fiona Henderson has worked for over 25 years in the university sector, principally in the field of Academic Literacies but also as a discipline lecturer in both the Schools of Education and Business. She has received several national grants for research and teaching related to Academic Literacies and Academic Integrity which have built local and international collaborations and grounded her teaching in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. She has received a national award for Excellence in Programs that Enhance Learning.

Abstract: Designing disciplinary communication courses in higher education

She will reflect on her past experiences with designing and teaching communications courses for Arts, Business and Engineering students. Fiona will then share with us her recent experiences with engaging Business students in meaningful, globally focussed, assessment and its role as a promoter of professional and academic communication skills within students.

Dr. Maree Keating, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia


Dr Maree Keating worked as a senior academic for ten years, co-ordinating and teaching in the postgraduate Public Relations and Communication program at Victoria University. She worked successfully with the academic skills team, to integrate academic skills for written and spoken assignments, via embedded class activities and individual student referral support. After VU, Maree went on to work as a Learning and Academic Skills (LAS) advisor at Swinburne University, providing curriculum advice to discipline academics and running embedded, small group and one to one academic skills support to undergraduate/postgraduate students across units in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Business Communication, Accounting, Finance and Law. She is now the Team Leader of the Learning and Academic Skills unit at Swinburne. She has developed a portal of discipline-specific academic skills support materials for Swinburne academic skills advisors and discipline academics to complement other teaching strategies. Maree also provides academic curriculum advice and input into the Swinburne Online unit "Academic Skills for Success", undertaken by students in the first year of their online university studies. 

Abstract: The importance of adding disciplinary communication courses to the undergraduate curriculum?

Discipline academics usually focus on delivering curriculum focussed on discipline context, theory, and current debates within the field. During assessment, students are often expected to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding through high level academic skills associated with written and oral practices common to the discipline.   These may include execution of case studies, a media pitch, essay based argumentation around critical theory, reports summarising contemporary research and showing applicability of research to current social issues. Each type of assessment expects students to draw on the particular genres and stylistic patterns common to their discipline. Whilst some students are able to absorb and emulate these discipline-specific spoken and written practices, many struggle or fail to demonstrate their knowledge using the required academic skills unless they are broken down and taught.  Teaching structured and discipline-specific academic skills allows students the opportunity to build both their discipline knowledge AND their ability to appropriately demonstrate that knowledge during assessment.