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Nathan Hughes, Sue Wainwright and Caroline Cresswell

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.

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Catherine Prendergast

This article reports on the multi-year collaboration between the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) at the University of Illinois and the University's Rhetoric Program, a required first-year writing course. I argue that this collaboration was successful in large part because the goals of writing programmes in American higher education settings – teaching the process of research, inviting students to see themselves as producers of knowledge and fostering collaboration between peers – are highly consonant with principles of EUI. Indeed, my own history with EUI reflects the parallel commitment of Writing Studies and the methods and goals of EUI. I suggest that EUI can serve as a powerful model for universities if they seek to place undergraduate student research writing at the core of their mission.

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Joe Lockard and Sherry Rankins-Robertson

The essay addresses the right to education for inmates and the disappearance of postsecondary education from US prisons; prison-university educational partnerships; and the potential of online programmes toward realization of education rights for US prisoners. As practical address to these issues, the article discusses an English department initiative to provide a partnership with prisons. As a creative example of how to reach all prison populations, this essay illustrates an online writing internship between undergraduate writing majors with primarily maximum-security inmates at the Penitentiary of New Mexico. By using online technology common on university campuses in the United States and elsewhere, the project has created a prison-university bridge and educational service that can be replicated and scaled upward. Such digital work spurs new social activism within university communities.