‘It can facilitate so much!’ Student writers’ practice of self-efficacy to develop their use of formulaic phrases


  • Mary Davis Oxford Brookes University
  • John Morley University of Manchester




formulaic phrases, student writers, self-efficacy, specific learning difficulty, SpLD


This study is about student writers’ development of their own approaches to using formulaic phrases from a compendium (Academic Phrasebank). While the essential role of formulaic phrases in academic texts has been well-established in research, teaching about the effective use of these phrases is not widely available, and little attention has been paid to how students learn to employ formulaic phrases in their own writing. Therefore, this research aims to explore this gap in understanding how student writers develop individual approaches to using formulaic phrases through the lens of self-efficacy.

Twelve self-selected student writer participants at undergraduate, Master’s and PhD levels were interviewed and asked about how they used formulaic phrases from the resource. Three key findings emerged from the data: firstly, that the resource may support inclusion as an empowering tool to enable student writers to participate confidently in academia; secondly, that students could employ the resource flexibly at different stages of the writing process depending on their individual approach to text construction; thirdly, that it could offer particular support with writing to students who have a specific learning difficulty (SpLD).

This paper contributes to understanding these individual student learning processes in the use of formulaic phrases for writing through self-efficacy. The implication for learning development is that making more guidance about formulaic phrases widely available and accessible would be beneficial to students’ writing processes.

Author Biographies

Mary Davis, Oxford Brookes University

Mary Davis is Principal Lecturer in Learning and Teaching at Oxford Brookes University. She is a researcher of academic integrity with a strong interest in inclusion and is currently leading a QAA funded collaborative enhancement project on improving student learning by joining up inclusion/accessibility and academic integrity.

John Morley, University of Manchester

John Morley is the former Director of the University-wide Language Programmes at the University of Manchester. He holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics. As the creator of Academic Phrasebank, his research interests include the role of phraseology in language learning.


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How to Cite

Davis, M. and Morley, J. (2022) “‘It can facilitate so much!’ Student writers’ practice of self-efficacy to develop their use of formulaic phrases ”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (24). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi24.856.