Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 42


Module Writing Workshop

Hippoview Lodge
August 2014
Kondwani Mkandawire
Overview of presentation
Style in the writing of modules
Guidelines for clear writing
Using familiar words
Short vs. long words
Short vs. long sentences
Specific vs. General

Kondwani Mkandawire
Overview of presentation/...
Writing in logical order
Negatives vs. positives
Maximising cohesion
Using first and second person
Active vs. passive voice
Other considerations

Kondwani Mkandawire
Modules fall within the group of self-
instructional/study materials.
They are specifically designed to enable
students study partly or wholly by
This is why Rowntree (1998) described them
as Tutorial-in-Print.

Kondwani Mkandawire
Unlike most books, modules:
Have clear objectives
Offer advice on how to study the materials
Involve the learner actively
They include activities and self-assessment
questions throughout
They guide the learner
Specially designed for a specific group

Kondwani Mkandawire
Are written in a friendly and encouraging
tone (you and I style).
Assist the learner to apply new knowledge.
Have a clear structure.
Divide content into small sections, and
contain more headings and sign-posts.
Have access devices to help the learner
Provide space for learners to make notes
Kondwani Mkandawire
Style in the writing of modules
The above and many other characteristics
demonstrate how important modules/self-
instructional materials are.
More importantly, however, these
distinguishing characteristics point to the
need for modules, like most self-instructional
materials, to be written in a unique style.

Kondwani Mkandawire
However well planned and constructed your
course is, it may fail to work well if the style
used is not appropriate to your student
Kondwani Mkandawire
Guidelines for clear writing
Use of familiar words
Use of short words
Use of short sentences
Avoiding unnecessary words
Preferring the specific instead of the general
Writing in logical order
Use of positives instead of negatives
Kondwani Mkandawire
Maximising cohesion
Use of first and second person
Use of lots of signposting
Use of active rather than passive voice
Kondwani Mkandawire
Using familiar words
Text is always easier for students to
understand if they are familiar with the words
being used.
Occasionally, of course, you will need to use
the less familiar word because it is the only
one that can convey your meaning with
precision. This is particularly true when using
technical terms.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Using familiar words/...
Less familiar

More familiar
Kondwani Mkandawire
Using short instead of long words
Generally, short words are easier to
understand than longer ones.
Sometimes, though, the longer word is the
more familiar, so it should be used in
preference to the shorter one.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Using short/...

Kondwani Mkandawire
Short vs. Long Sentences
Generally, long sentences are more difficult
to understand than short ones, but overuse
of short sentences can also destroy
Kondwani Mkandawire
The specific vs. The general
We tend to understand specific, concrete
instances better than vague or generalised
For this reason, it is best to use specific
examples or precise data whenever the
context permits it.
Kondwani Mkandawire
The specific vs. the general/...
The general/vague
Write a short answer
Many people
Very fast
Poor quality hinge
The specific/precise
Write about 300 words
Around 65% of the adults
Over 150 km/hr
A hinge that breaks after
500 flexings
Kondwani Mkandawire
Writing in a logical order
Probably the best way to ensure a logical
order is to plan your course or unit in a
systematic way a process which, in itself,
helps to force a logical order on your writing.
However, what constitutes a logical order will
depend on the subject matter.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Writing in a logical order/...
Kondwani Mkandawire
Topic 1
Sub-topic 1.1
Sub-topic 1.2
Sub-sub-topic 1.2.1
Sub-topic 1.3
Kondwani Mkandawire
Negatives vs. positives
On the whole, it is easier to understand a
statement in a positive form than in a
negative one.
There are some occasions, though, when the
negative is clearer or essential. For example:
Danger. Do not touch.
Double negatives should also be avoided as
they are confusing to understand.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Kondwani Mkandawire
Maximising cohesion
Cohesion is clear relationships being
established between the words in a piece of
text. For example, pronouns that refer back
to a noun help create cohesion, as does the
use of linking words such as thus, however
and in the next example.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Maximising cohesion/...
Cohesion is promoted by:
repetition of key words, and
the use of transition words and phrases.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Repetition of key words
The cohesion of a piece of text is increased
by the repetition of key words or phrases,
which help the reader see how points in a
series are logically related.
Kondwani Mkandawire
It is worth noting that the tutorial style was
developed for use in print self-study materials.
It can be extended to the web, but care needs
to be taken in the navigation of web tutorial
sites. The tutorial method assumes a carefully
controlled order in the presentation of input,
activity and feedback. If learners are allowed to
freely navigate a web site, this order will be
lost and the tutorials structure undermined.
This problem can be avoided by constructing
course web sites with . and by careful
control of hypertext links within the site.
Use of transitional words
Transitional words and phrases are ones that
sequence and order
the flow of an argument
cause and effect
exceptions and parentheses.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Use of transitional words/...
Examples of transitional words and phrases
in addition
for example
at the same time
to return to the point I made earlier
Kondwani Mkandawire
Use of first and second person
There is widespread agreement among
experts that self-instructional materials
should address the learner as you and the
author should be I or we.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Use of first and second person/...
Traditional Academic style More friendly self-instructional
The student should note that

You should note that

Students should prepare an essay on

You should now write an essay on

It can be seen that

You can see that

It is understood by most instructional
designers that they should expect to

As instructional designers, we can
expect to have to cut

Kondwani Mkandawire
Signposting in self-instructional
Signposting refers to all of those devices
that we use to help learners find their way
around a text or the web site.
These are considered to be important for two
First, many learners have little experience of
learning from text or web sites, and so need
as much help as possible.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Signposting in self-instructional
Second, self-study materials tend to have a
fairly complicated structure, with lots of
separate components (e.g., activities,
examples, tests), so learners need help in
working their way through the materials.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Signposting in self-instructional
Examples of signposting include the use of:
headings and subheadings
contents lists

Kondwani Mkandawire
Signposting in self-instructional
different fonts and type sizes to indicate
different aspects of the text, for example:
- 11-point Times Roman for explanatory
- 11-point Arial for activities
Kondwani Mkandawire
Signposting in self-instructional
phrases such as:
- on the next page
- in the last section
- the next example will show you
Kondwani Mkandawire
The active vs. passive voice
Although much formal and academic writing
uses the passive voice, the active voice is
generally more direct and easier to understand.
For this reason, most self-study writing
should avoid the passive voice.
However, there are times when the passive is
appropriate and therefore should be used.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Other considerations
Be consistent in your style
Use humour where possible
Use relevant and/or practical examples
Use gender sensitive language
Leave white margins and white space for
learners to make notes and to answer SMAs
and other types of self-assessment.

Kondwani Mkandawire
Other considerations/...
Include keywords (to explain technical terms,
new concepts, difficult words - decide where
to include your keywords)
Use graphics and illustrations (to break
monotony, makes materials interesting and
Kondwani Mkandawire
Writing objectives and content using
language that is clear, specific and relevant
to the context of the learner is important for
enhancing the appeal and readability of your
Creating the zeal or desire for learners to
continue to interact with the self-study
materials depends on how easy it is to
understand and apply the information.
Kondwani Mkandawire
At the same time keeping your text straight to
the point while using a conversational and
friendly tone helps to keep your learner on
task and makes the lesson more
personalized and sociable.
Kondwani Mkandawire
Commonwealth of Learning. (2005). Creating
Learning materials for open and distance
learning: A Handbook for authors and
instructional designers. Vancouver:
Commonwealth of Learning

Kondwani Mkandawire COS 110
Kondwani Mkandawire
Thanks for your attention