Expert in Academic Writing at the Tertiary Education Level in Abkhazia

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Apply by
    Sep-20-2017
  • Posted
    Aug 30

Position description

Background

The “Horizons. Strengthening community resilience in Abkhazia” (Horizons) project is aimed to promote the social and economic resilience of local communities, especially youth, through improved access to high quality health and education services in Abkhazia. In doing so, the project aims to increase the space for reconciliation, confidence-building and social cohesion, thus expanding the ‘horizons’ of local communities affected by 1992-1993 conflict. The project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The 5-year project intends to achieve its goal through reaching targets within and across three primary objectives of the program:

  • Improved access to quality health services for vulnerable populations in Abkhazia;
  • Improved access to quality education, skills development and social participation opportunities for children and youth;
  • Enhanced dialogue across respective youth and professional groups.

The Horizons project will focus on the following key outputs: improving the healthcare system through expanding HIV/AIDS prevention and providing screening on STIs, Hepatitis B and C, and TB; improving maternal and child health care services; and expanding learning and social participation skills and opportunities for youth in Abkhazia.

Up to 3,000 students from all over Abkhazia currently attend the Abkhazian State University. Course works and Diploma works in general are assigned to students during the second to fifth study years (it varies per each of the University’s eight faculties). Whereas a “Provision on Graduate Qualification Work” (Graduation Thesis) have been elaborated, approved and introduced within the university, the provision of comprehensive Academic Writing skills trainings to both teachers supervising and students assigned to complete academic works on existing standard rules and regulations have not been efficiently introduced. While the lack of proper access to external bibliographical materials, including books, textbooks, journals and periodicals etc. also creates an unfavorable condition for completing quality written assignments, the lack of basic competences in making academic research averts the students from submitting quality academic works that follow proper citation accepted rephrasing rules and avoid direct or indirect plagiarism etc. The observed state of current policies decreases the quality of education and impedes development of each students’ full academic potential.

Within the Horizons project UNDP will continue to build capacities of the professionals and students at the Abkhaz State University (ASU) aiming to enhance learning opportunities and hereby introduce academic writing training/short-course for targeted professors and students.

Duties and Responsibilities

 Independent Assessment of the state of Academic Writing policies in Abkhazia to design and conducted tailored academic writing courses for students and university teachers:

Under the direct supervision of the Programme Manager, Head of Office in Abkhazia, the Consultant will travel to Abkhazia within the fall semester 2017 for a week to conduct a series of meetings and consultations with a range of partners and stakeholders engaged in the area of education in Abkhazia to collect relevant information and data for a required assessment of academic writing.

The assessment is to target overall gaps in academic writing and provide analyses of the state of academic writing policies and strategies reflecting key findings and recommendations for all actors engaged to enable UNDP further elaborate strategies in improvement the access to quality education for young people in Abkhazia. The assessment should also focus on areas for improvement and/or professional development of university teacher and students, enhancement of their competences in all aspects of academic writing through tailored on-site programmes and online and/or distance learning, self-paced education, collaborative learning and other resources available in Russian and English. In addition to the proposed scope of the assignment the instructor, prior to his/her departure to the region, will be provided currently approved university documents (available in Russian) specifying the university’s academic writing rules for a review and better understanding of the context as well as estimated outputs he/she is expected to produce.

The situation analysis/assessment will define the grounds for elaborating by the Consultant a strategy on introducing tailored Academic Writing Courses in curricula of the ASU Faculties; the Consultant will elaborate a pilot tailored training programme preliminarily in two languages (English and Russian) and conduct training sessions for groups of professors and students clustered based on their displayed skills competencies preliminarily scheduled for the spring semester 2018. The expert will propose the course content, duration of the course, number of course lessons and lesson structure, prepare power point presentations for each course sessions and hand-outs as well as progress assignments, indicating frequency and scope of written assignments.

It is expected that within 4 consecutive weeks during the spring academic semester trainings for up to 5 groups each comprising of at least 20 participants will be conducted.  Total number of direct training beneficiaries is 100 people (both teachers and students). Key objective of the developed training structure and delivery of the training course is to improve understanding of the concept of academic writing (including its structure and writing process) among targeted audience and facilitate introducing academic writing standards at the university level. The course should enable targeted participants to successfully complete written assignments, including course works and diploma paper/master thesis. In supplement to key scope of activities the trainer must also display to participants online tools and resources widely available for improving writing academic skills and share with lists of useful literature available in English an Russian.

Course/training participants are expected to acquire the following knowledge and skills upon successful course completion:

  • Learn to structure and organize a range of written texts;
  • Produce written academic work;
  • Practice planning and editing own writing;
  • Elaborate and cluster the content of the written assignment (abstract, summary, introduction, literature review, methodology, research results, general conclusion, references.

Expected course/training content should include the following components: research design and methods (research questions and objectives), data collection, literature review, types of sources, APA and/or other source citing styles etc.

Particular attention in course design is to be given to ethical aspects related to completing written academic works:

  • Reference methodology
  • Citation and paraphrasing
  • Avoiding plagiarism

Participants written assignments are expected to receive the following feedback from the instructor/trainer:

  • Quality of the content (summary)
  • Formal aspects (name file, heading, reference, use of language etc.)

Deliverables:

  • Assessment of the Academic Writing Framework in Abkhazia with the focus on existing policies at the tertiary education level;
  • Elaboration of a tailored Academic Writing Training programme for students and university teachers;
  • Conducting of up to 5 on-site training sessions for groups of students and university teachers (up to 100 participants in total). Preliminarily each group is to participate in at least 10 academic hours of training.

Description of deliverables, timelines and corresponding percentage of payment due per output:

  • Review of currently existing university documents (available in Russian) specifying the university’s academic writing rules for a better understanding of the context as well as estimated outputs the Expert is expected to produce (from home) – 1 day;
  • First field visit to Abkhazia to collect data and information for the Assessment/Report - 5 working days);
  • Assessment drafting and finalization (from home) – 5 days;
  • Drafting and finalization of a tailored academic writing training programme (from home) – 5 days;
  • Revision of the assessment and training programme based on the feedback provided by UNDP team, if required (from home) – 2 days; 
  • Second field visit to Abkhazia to conduct academic writing training –20 working days;

Accordingly, the financial proposal should be submitted for the 38 days of fee-paid expert work.

Core Competencies:

  • Demonstrated commitment to UNDP’s mission, vision and values;
  • Sensitivity and adaptability to cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age;
  • Highest standards of integrity, discretion and loyalty.

Functional Competencies:

  • Ability to collect field data;
  • Ability to produce analytical reports/assessments in written;
  • Ability of interpretation, development and analyses of related documentation;
  • Ability to work under pressure with several tasks and various deadlines;
  • ICT competencies
  • Excellent written and spoken English and Russian skills;
  • Strong professional communication and inter-personal skills and ability to transfer knowledge to targeted groups of beneficiaries;
  • Flexibility and ability to adjust to teaching environment and needs.

Required Skills and Experience

Education:

  • Master’s degree in Social Sciences, Humanities, International Relations or related fields (minimum qualification requirement: Master’s degree – 7 points; PhD - additional 3 points).

Experience:

  • At least 5 year working experience in instructing academic writing courses at university level, experience of instruction in Russian speaking countries is an asset (minimum qualification requirement: 5 years – 21 points; more than 5 years – additional 5 points; more than 10 years – additional 4 points);
  • Experience in writing training course and program curriculum;
  • Experience in teaching using a variety of methods, including traditional classroom and interactive teaching methods;
  • Experience in conducting trainings for professors and students;
  • Recorded track of at least 1 similar written assessments/analytical reports as international assignments (minimum qualification requirement: No track record – 0 point; 1 report – 7 points; more than 1 relevant report – additional 3 points).

Language Requirements:

  • Proficiency in both English and Russian languages.

Application instructions

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