Attribution, referencing and commencing HE students as novice academic writers: Giving them more time to ‘get it’
The requirement for commencing higher education students to apply principles of attribution in their early academic writing frequently creates frustration both for students and academic teaching staff. Teachers often provide information on the necessity of attribution, and considerable detail on the mechanics of how to reference, and express frustration at the failure of some students to demonstrate this in their writing. In turn, many students appear overwhelmed and confused by the expectations placed on them as early academic writers. This paper explores these expectations and questions current assessment practices, advocating a longer period of formative learning before students are required to competently and accurately apply attribution principles and referencing conventions in their writing. Using the threshold concept framework (Meyer & Land, 2005), it suggests viewing attribution as a ‘conceptual gateway’ through which students must pass in becoming academic writers, and explores some implications of this for teaching, learning and assessment.