Essential Skills Definition Review

Review of definition for Writing

HRSDC would like to change the definition of Writing to:

"Writing skills are those needed to compose meaningful text of sentence length or longer, communicating ideas, messages and information in understandable words and language for a variety of audiences.

In a work context, writing skills may refer to the ability to write notes to co-workers, supervisors or staff, log book entries, or record statements for accident investigations. Examples of written texts may also include emails, letters, instructions, brochures, articles, reports, manuals, and legislation.

What are your thoughts and comments about this change?


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. The idea was posted


  1. Comment

    I would replace ‘Writing skills are those needed' by ‘Writing is the skill needed’.

  2. Comment

    Carol MacLeod's Proposed Definition of Writing: Writing is the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate meaning using text in performing work-related tasks.

    Rationale: Please reference the Developmental Guidelines for Drafting Effective ES Definitions that I posted and, in particular, the need for a succinct definition with details captured in the Summary Guide or Readers’ Guide.

    My proposed definition forwards the concept of facilitating meaning (i.e., what is intended to be expressed) as a construct for defining Writing and Oral Communication—the former does it using text, the latter does it using speech. (See my proposed definition and rationale for Oral Communication.) Once again, prefer starting all definitions with knowledge and skills, as opposed to ability, because it reinforces that a range of knowledge (e.g., vocabulary) and sub-skills skills enable Writing. This is important from an instructional perspective where these sub-skills are identified and taught.

    I disagree with the limitation of a sentence or longer in HRSDC’s proposed definition. That was not in the case in earlier versions of the methodology, although I understand that this has been the interpretation used in recent years. The original ES Writing framework allows for the capture of tasks that do not involve writing sentences, such as jotting down a phone message or entering a comment in a log book—they are just less complex. HRSDC’s proposed definition would exclude such work-related tasks. In some cases—for example, when writing is done using an entry document such as a telephone message form--the use of the form itself is also captured in Document Use using the DU scale. The complexity of the Writing is captured using the Writing scale. Essential Skills are dynamically interrelated and do not sit in strict silos even though the structre of an Essential Skills Profile gives that appearance.

  3. Comment

    I support the proposed definition with:

    1) changing to "Writing is the skill needed" as suggested by Christine Grignon

    2) adding 'to perform work, learning and life tasks'.

    I agree that writing should be at least one sentence in length. Anything less can fit within document use. I think the definitions are more useful if they are clearly defined.

  4. Comment

    Like reading, there are various underlying components or skills required. I like the use of "knowledge and skills" and the addition of "to perform work, learning and life tasks".

  5. Comment

    Chantal agrees with Carol, provided work, learning and life contexts are applicable

  6. Comment

    What's missing for me in the proposed defintion is the context & purpose of the writing. And, I question whether writing needs to consist of text that is at least one sentence in length (ex creating a list, tweeting).

  7. Comment

    As it stands now, creating a list is relevant to the skill of Document Use.

  8. Comment

    Our team proposes the following definition "Writing refers to the skills needed to communicate meaning using text of sentence length or longer". If HRSDC agrees we also would want to add for work, learning and life tasks.

    We opted to exclude the word 'knowledge' because for many of our clients who function at fairly low levels, this word is intimidating and can actually serve to unintentionally escalate the definition to be viewed as a higher level skill. When using 'Writing refers to the skills needed ...' this is clear and by using the plural of skills allows for various components. Adding Knowledge and Skills almost gives it a meaning that says there is something in addition to skills and could potentially confuse the reader.