Enhancing and supporting the role of academic tutors in developing undergraduate writing skills: Reflections on the experiences of a social work education programme

in Learning and Teaching
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Whilst approaches to the development of undergraduate academic writing skills vary between disciplines and institutions, academic tutors are consistently presented as playing an important role. One aspect of this role is supporting students to engage effectively with feedback in order to develop consciousness and competence regarding academic writing. This article reports on the use of a form, which was designed to encourage students to use feedback in a structured and consistent manner and to support subsequent tutor-tutee dialogue. Students and tutors who used the form suggest it encouraged students to reflect on their learning needs and identify priority issues for discussion with the tutor. However, barriers to its effective use remain. In particular, there was resistance amongst students to accessing academic support, due to anxieties that staff would look negatively upon those who seek help. Students expressed concern that tutors would perceive those seeking support as failing to cope with the demands of independent study, a set of skills they perceive that they were required to have on arrival at university, rather than to acquire during the course of their studies with the help and guidance of their academic tutor.