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Academic texts are structured according to a hierarchy from higher order to lower order skills. When giving feedback on an assessment task it is more helpful for feedback to be focused on the higher order skill.

Test your understanding of high to low order academic skills by dragging them to their correct position in the academic skills triangle.


In the following activity, order the writing skills according to their importance for assessment tasks. Please note: This activity is best viewed on a desktop or tablet.

Writing skills:

  1. Referencing: in-text reference list
  2. Sentences: spelling punctuation grammar
  3. Integrating references: paraphrases, synthesis
  4. Purpose: Understanding the task, addressing the question
  5. Structure: thesis/argument, introduction, conclusion, paragraphs


From most important to least important: (4) Purpose, (5) Structure, (3) Integrating references, (1) Referencing, and (2) Sentences.

The top-most writing skills (purpose, structure, and integrating references) are higher order skills. They can be supported by the lecturer using the rubric, models, examples and practice activities, e.g. Learning Lab.

The bottom two writing skills (referencing and sentences) are lower order skills. They're mainly student responsibilities, and garner general feedback from the lecturer.