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Evidence-based practice to help schools tasked with fixing Australia's 'writing crisis'

Sarah Crossing

Sarah Crossing

May 13, 2019

There is ongoing concern about high school writing standards, particularly boys, with the latest showing that Year Nine boys now write on average at a Year Seven level (AFR, April 2019).

How we got here is being debated, but in the meantime - for Australia to stay competitive globally and not least for us to give our kids the best chance for success, for personal and professional fulfilment - we need to be looking to at least starting to solve this very complex problem today and at scale.


Writing Feedback for every Australian student

With Studiosity's 'Writing Feedback' service for schools and universities, students can submit drafts early and often and get online help from a real writing specialist, who returns feedback in less than 24 hours.

The constructive, scaffolding-based feedback is a spotlight, showing students where they might focus attention and add more thought, to improve their own work, and crucially to gain interest and confidence in their own writing ability.


Why does timely, personal feedback work?

There are critical forces which affect a student’s performance - including timely, regular feedback from "a more knowledgeable other", demonstrated in a literature review by Dr Gerard Calnin (2017).

Calnin's review shows that positive experiences - such as getting help at the time of need - help students reach goals, and negative experiences - such as getting permanently 'stuck' on a problem - can propel a student backwards in their learning progress. Educators who know this are always looking for ways to deliver the former and eliminate the latter.

Graph 1: Driving forces, positive and negative, of a student's learning

Calnin graph for digital

Positive driving forces in a student's learning include timely, progressive feedback from a more knowledgeable person. In contrast, when a student gets stuck without timely help, these are negative experiences that set a student back in their learning. From a literature review by Dr Gerard Calnin (2017).



“Just-in-time learning and the ability to solve problems at the time of need are fundamental, not just to student progression, but the confidence and resilience of the learner to solve learner challenges.”
- Dr Gerard Calnin, 2017


That's where Studiosity's 24/7 Writing Feedback is critical: timely, online, help from specialists in their field, and one-to-one, it fulfils every need for a positive learning experience to help students - of any ability - improve their writing.


Is there any evidence that Studiosity's 'positive experiences' in writing actually improve real outcomes?

Yes. In 2017, James Cook University found that repeat use of Studiosity's Writing Feedback service led to higher results compared to peers in the same GPA band, and this was true especially among students who originally enrolled from high school with a lower attainment score (OP Class.)



In practice: Principal Simon Dash reviews his school's Studiosity service and student outcomes 

Speaking at the annual Catholic Secondary Principals Australia conference, Xavier Catholic College Hervey Bay Principal Simon Dash commented:


“The service that Studiosity provides works really well and when you consider the equity of access it provides to students that may be disadvantaged, and the benefits are incredibly valuable. The knowledge it provides staff is insightful . The reporting allows teachers to  evaluate if students understand a concept or not and whether they need to reteach which is incredibly interactive. We are now in a place where students don't have the excuse that 'they didn't understand ' because they should be able to show they went online  to Studiosity to get help. The uptake from both students and teachers has been huge."


Like Xavier Catholic College, schools that perform best with Studiosity are those with leadership and staff who want to actively help students become independent learners, who strongly believe in equity of access, and with a desire for continual improvement. 

Hear more of Simon Dash's CaSPA discussion:



Where to start for your school?

Writing is a critical issue for every school. School leaders have a duty of care to their staff, students, and families to simply learn more about whether Studiosity is the right fit, and to learn more about the impact it has had in other schools and universities. 

For due diligence to your school community, contact us to hear from your local Studiosity Director, who will help answer your questions about the service:

 Contact us


Further reading:

*Calnin, G. (2017). Establishing the Conditions for Student Learning Growth. 

Lynch, A (2017, April) The JCU Learning Centre approach to enhancing student success and the role of the Studiosity service. Presentation at the Universities UK Conference for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, London.


About Studiosity

Studiosity is personalised study help, anytime, anywhere. We partner with institutions to extend their core academic skills support online with timely, after-hours help for all their students, at scale - regardless of their background, study mode or location. 

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