New space and subjects for Writing Hub in 2012

29 March 2012

The Writing Hub is introducing a new unit of study in 2012, to go along with a new batch of student fellows and their common room, all of which aim to help students improve their academic writing at university.

In addition, the Student Writing Fellows will be available from week 4 onwards for any student from the faculty needing help or advice on assessments.

Dr Benjamin Miller, Associate Director of the Writing Hub, says the Writing Hub offers a unique pathway to success in university writing. In some cases, writing skills and techniques are assumed at university level, and the resources offered by the Writing Hub aim to teach these skills.

"Many first year students have learnt a very successful technique for HSC writing, but there are differences at university level, particularly in the ability to construct an argument," he says. "That's the biggest gap that we see between the HSC and University, and that's what most of our units focus on."

Offered for the first time in semester one, 2012, WRIT1000 offers a further supplement to these skills.

"The new unit, WRIT1000, is the only unit we know of that focuses on academic writing and grammar, sentence construction and style in arts and social sciences," Dr Miller explains.

Last year, 1000 students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences enrolled in the two WRIT units of study offered by the Writing Hub. With the addition of a new unit in 2012, Dr Miller expects that number to rise to almost 1500.

Dr Miller believes the popularity of the units of study goes beyond compulsory course requirements.

"The student feedback from WRIT1001 has been one of fascination with the ideas that we bring to them because it's new to a lot of students," Dr Miller says.

2012 will also see a whole new batch of Student Writing Fellows, chosen from among the top students in the WRIT units, to help mentor other students in academic writing.

"It's based on a model that has been used in the U.S. and there is a body of research that supports the idea that students offer students something that academics can't offer them," Dr Miller says.

The directors of the Writing Hub noticed when first running their units of study that there was a diverse range of students enrolled in the subjects.

"We had really capable students performing at a high level of study and also students looking for a more foundational level of knowledge," he says. "So we developed the writing fellowships to bring those two groups together."

The logic is that in an age of mass, diverse education, there is little time for one-on-one contact between students and academics. The Student Writing Fellowships aim to bridge this gap.

Student Writing Fellows are available for drop-in sessions and they help students who are having trouble with their assessments, or who just need another perspective on their work.

"It's about students developing the skills and expertise to be able to help each other, so it's empowering," Dr Miller explains. "Both groups get a lot out of it."

Adam Dickes, a third year Arts student and one of last year's Fellows thinks that becoming a Student Writing Fellow was helpful for his own work.

"I improved my writing pretty quickly," he explains.

Another former Fellow, Gayatri Kotnala agrees. "You get exposure to other people's writing, trying to adapt what you know to their way of writing," the third year Liberal Arts and Science student says.

The two Fellows, who are given a semester of training before they hold drop-in sessions, agree that things get pretty hectic when the bulk of assessments are due.

"You can get quite a lot of students, sometimes they come in a flood around the middle of semester," Adam says.

The Writing Hub is currently in the process of recruiting a new set of mentors for 2012. Alex Christie, a third year Arts (Media and Communications) student is one such hopeful who sees benefit beyond practical teaching experience.

"It's a really good opportunity for me to develop my skills for the professional world," she explains.

Alex was prompted to become involved after achieving a high mark in her WRIT subjects. She says her success was down to the independence the courses offer to the student.

"It's really good to be able to work on your own project, with research and questions that you choose," she says.

The Student Writing drop-in sessions will begin in week 4 in the Writing Hub Common Room, Old Teacher's College 329. Students can get advice on their assignments between noon and 3pm, Monday to Thursday.

Contact: Kate Mayor

Phone: 02 9351 2208, 0434 561 056

Email: 393b100246242036241a17112d002451111e364b2d6f3b38