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The ability to write texts in which information extracted from different sources is integrated (so-called synthesis texts) is an important skill in higher education and in (working) life in general. However, there is barely any attention for it in Dutch pre-university secondary education and teaching materials on this topic are scarce. It is therefore important to develop a scientifically proven teaching method that focuses specifically on this writing task. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) therefore funded the research project LIFT. Improving pre-university students’ performance in academic synthesis tasks with Level up Instructions & Feedback Tool.

Teaching program

Within this project, experts in the areas of writing and writing education collaborate with teachers to develop and test a teaching program aimed at improving the writing performance of pre-university students. This teaching program will combine a number of learning methods that have been proven successful in writing research. Students will for instance be able to relate their skills to a national baseline by means of text- and process scales. This way, they can get a clear picture of their performance level and their opportunities for growth.

Baseline study

It is crucial that the baseline to which students will relate their performance represents a valid national standard. To achieve this, the first step of the research project will be to determine the current level of Dutch students’ writing performance on synthesis tasks by means of a large national baseline study. Within this baseline study, we will collect information on the quality of synthesis texts written by pre-university and bachelor students and on how they go about writing these texts. Based on this information, a performance scale will be created ranging from grade 10 until the second year of the academic bachelor.

Part-projects

The LIFT project consists of three part-projects, of which the baseline study is the first. In the following years, we will also carry out intervention studies and a modelling study. The intervention studies will test the effects of different types of feedback and instruction on the writing performance of pre-university students so that we can optimize the effectivity of the teaching program. The modeling study will provide insight into the relations between writing processes and writing products for different types of writers so that the teaching program can be adapted to every individual student.