The Writing Place (WP) is designated as an academic support service within the College of Humanities, Teaching and Learning Unit (T&L), that is tasked with improving the academic writing and critical thinking skills of students through an emphasis on essay/assignment structure and understanding of academic concepts. The primary function of the WP is to provide one-on-one academic writing tutoring at the Drop-in Centre. At these 45 minute consultations a trained tutor will work through a student’s essay in discussion with the student concerned to assess whether or not the student is addressing all parts of the essay question and to provide suggestions on how structure and grammar can be improved.
Correct referencing techniques and the consequences of plagiarism are also explained. Tutors assess the essay in its entirety for structure and cohesion but they do not edit each sentence for grammar problems. Students who have serious grammar problems are encouraged to return for follow-up sessions on the premise that practice increases proficiency however for those students who battle to construct even basic sentences, more intensive intervention is required that the WP cannot provide at this stage. For serious content-related problems the student is referred to their course tutor and/or lecturer. At the initial consultation the student is also provided with a copy of the WP Guide, which includes a step-by-step academic writing guide as well as information on referencing and exam techniques.
Apart from increased usage of our Drop-in Centre, 2012 has also seen the WP pilot a series of academic writing workshops designed specifically for undergraduate students. These group sessions have been developed and facilitated by the WP tutors with the aim of developing tutors’ teaching skills whilst also providing guidance to students on the steps to follow when writing an essay/assignment – from breaking down the question into its form and content instructions and researching and citing literature, to essay planning and the mechanics involved when writing introductions, paragraphs and conclusions, including how to write in an objective and appropriate academic tone. Currently these voluntary workshops are held once a week during the 45 minute university forum period.
The WP currently comprises 1 coordinator and 16 tutors.