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:
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:
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:
Participants written assignments are expected to receive the following feedback from the instructor/trainer:
Description of deliverables, timelines and corresponding percentage of payment due per output:
Accordingly, the financial proposal should be submitted for the 38 days of fee-paid expert work.
Required Skills and Experience
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