Academic writing support through individual consultations: EAL doctoral student experiences and evaluation

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Thesis and dissertation writing often presents significant challenges for many PhD candidates and it can be even more demanding for multilingual doctoral students who use English as an additional language (EAL). Second language writers who are unprepared to engage in disciplinary academic writing require institutional language support services. Among these services, individual (or one-on-one) consultations with learning advisers, who identify students’ specific writing issues and provide personalised advice, are resource-intensive but may have significant impacts on thesis and dissertation writing. This paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of individual consultations through student learning experiences. It analyses the reasons for service use, evaluates students’ perceived impacts of consultations on thesis and dissertation writing, and explores their views on service improvement. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 13 EAL doctoral students enrolled in an Australian university. Results show that individual consultations were operated in four different formats and participants accessed consultation services because their learning needs were not met in group settings or they had identified writing issues. Participants reported pedagogical and psychological impacts, and provided practical suggestions for service improvement in terms of timing and adviser availability. This study provides important insights into the role of individual consultations on thesis and dissertation writing in a second language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Second Language Writing
Early online date29 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Doctoral language support
  • EAL doctoral students
  • English academic writing
  • Individual consultations
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Second language writing


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