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Paul Holford, Anthony Haigh and Robert Ellis

To improve the communication skills of students studying horticulture, collaboration between the subject lecturers and an academic skills consultant has led to the inclusion of a writing portfolio into the curriculum of Plant Science and Physiology, a core science component of the Bachelor of Horticultural Science program. The rationale for the portfolio was that, through writing, students would engage more closely with a subject's content and would gain a better understanding of its concepts. The initiatives introduced into the portfolio include the development of nine writing portfolio tasks and model answers, an appropriate grading tool and the integration of the writing tasks into other assessment tools. The focus on writing simultaneously improved students' awareness of the standard and type of writing expected at university, allowed them to develop their written expression, and deepened their understanding of plant science.