Writing practices in Tasmanian schools

Writing instruction and practices across the school years in the Tasmanian context

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Writing is an important skill needed for higher education, academic achievement, and the workplace. However, the report by the Australian Research Organisation (AERO) in October 2022 revealed that there has been an overall national decline in Australian student achievement of persuasive writing skills from 2011 to 2021, with the decline more profound in the secondary years (Years 7 and 9). This is evident by the overall writing scores as well as scores for a number of specific writing skills in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results. The three main specific areas of concern for the writing performance decline include writing to engage the audience, text structure, and sentence structure. This report calls for more support for in-service and pre-service teachers to develop explicit teaching of writing strategies for identified areas to provide evidence-based resources on best practices in writing teaching pedagogies. Within the Tasmanian context, the initial analysis of the NAPLAN results from 2011 to 2021 also showed the overall decline in the writing performance of Tasmanian students across school years. Adopting the sociocultural and systemic functional linguistics theories as the main theoretical and methodological frameworks, and a qualitative research design, this project aims to investigate writing instruction and learning and teaching practices in Tasmanian primary and secondary schools to address the national and local concerns about student writing development and performance. Applicants for this project have the scope to narrow down their research focus by examining writing practices and best writing teaching pedagogies in either DECYP, Independent, or Catholic schools, and either: (1) at the lower, middle, upper primary, or (2) at the lower and upper secondary level. This research project aligns well with the University of Tasmania's School of Education's research labs in the scholarships of teaching and learning, the Lingua, early years, and trauma-informed practice.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Vinh To


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must already have been awarded a first-class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in the English education field
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate practical and/or research expertise in English education, applied and/or educational linguistics

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Knowledge of systemic functional linguistics and/or different writing pedagogies is desirable.

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Vinh To to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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