Imagine you’re designing an academic writing support program.
You envision a space for peer-led conversations that build student confidence and encourage a sense of connection to the MQ community. You’re committed to staff/student partnership as a pedagogical principle. And, most significantly, you hope that your program will inspire students to understand writing as both a form of self-expression and a key professional skill.
This was the vision that inspired the Library’s Learning Skills team to apply for an Innovation and Scholarship Program Grant in 2016 to design and pilot a student-led writing support program. The grant seeded WriteWISE, which has recently celebrated the delivery of its 1000th peer-writing consultation. Dr Robyn Westcott, who manages the program, explains,
WriteWISE is driven by two passionate beliefs. Firstly, that skills in coherent argument and clear expression are the foundations of transformative learning. And secondly, that peer-led learning initiatives are empowering. Our goal is to connect students in 100-level units with peer writing leaders trained to share the skills and experiences that have made them successful academic writers.
The WriteWISE program serves undergraduate students by providing formative writing feedback in a friendly and encouraging environment. Championed initially by A/Professor Peter Keegan, Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the Faculty of Arts, WriteWISE is now generously funded by both the Faculties of Arts and Human Sciences. Students in 100-level partner units in both faculties are able to book free, 30-minute f2f consultations with a WriteWISE leader.
Carol Floyd, a Learning Adviser on the WriteWISE team notes, “A key factor in the program’s success has been the support we receive from unit conveners and teaching staff. Working with partner units allows us to communicate easily with students via iLearn, and provide targeted assignment support.”
WriteWISE continues to evolve and develop. From an initial cohort of three partner units in Session 2, 2016, the program now supports students in 30 x 100-level subjects across Arts and Human Sciences. More excitingly, WriteWISE leaders are taking an increasing role in designing and delivering the program. This Session, senior leaders developed and managed the induction process for their new colleagues. WriteWISE leaders have also spearheaded the in-lecture promotion of this Session’s program, and their writing and study advice features regularly in MyMQ.
The fusion of talent and energy that the WriteWISE model produces has a powerful impact on students who seek help with their academic writing.The fusion of talent and energy that the WriteWISE model produces has a powerful impact on students who seek help with their academic writing. Students are asked to evaluate their confidence levels before and after a WriteWISE consultation. Analysis of these results shows an average mean increase of 2.64 (measured on a ten-point scale) over the four sessions the program has been in operation. That this effect is statistically significant (p-values range from <0.001 to <0.0001) is a testament to the hard work of the WriteWISE leaders. Tessa Green, Manager of Learning Skills, praises her team and the WriteWISE leaders for the enthusiasm and dedication they bring to the program. “We’re incredibly lucky to work with such a committed and professional group of students. They continue to demonstrate that peer-led learning assistance can have an incredibly positive impact on student confidence.”
WriteWISE leaders: In their own words
“Working with WriteWISE has been nothing short of wonderful, I’ve made a lot of new friends and had the chance to meet a lot of inspiring alumni. Our supervisors are overwhelmingly supportive and the program’s success is a clear reflection of the sense of community and motivation they instil within the team. I’ve found all of my students to be really grateful for the help I’ve provided and I feel a sense of pride after every shift.”
Evan (BCom/LLB) – Joined 2018
“Sometimes all someone needs is a helping hand who listens to their concerns and shares their own experiences of how they overcame the same challenges at uni.”
Monique (MRes) – Joined 2017
“I wanted to work for WriteWISE because I’ve always loved writing, and I love helping people. In particular, I’ve experienced the stress that academic writing can cause, and I’ve learned that this stress subsides once you are equipped with the appropriate skills and techniques. I wanted to help others by equipping them with these same skills, so that they can feel confident and thrive in all areas of their university life.”
Maryellen (BA/LLB) – Joined 2018
“I want to help people gain confidence in their academic capabilities. I love that, through WriteWISE, I will be able to be part of empowering people to overcome their obstacles and insecurities.”
Josephine (BA/LLB) – Joined 2018
“I wanted to work with WriteWISE because my parents have always advocated for education, and this was a way I could help out the cause. The team is a supportive bunch who are always there to help me better myself, and help me help others. My biggest takeaway from WriteWISE has been my improved self-confidence—WriteWISE is a platform that enables student growth!”
Ali (MRes) – Joined 2016
“I have learned to talk to my peers from any age or background in a constructive but non-threatening manner. I have also found that often I learn and gain just as much from the consultations as my peers do!”
Jacinta (BA/LLB) – Joined 2018
Student attendees: Feedback on consultations
|“The WriteWISE consultation was extremely helpful and helped me get level-headed again.”|
|“WriteWISE offered amazing and in-depth with tools and ways to help me tackle my assignment.”|
|“The WriteWISE leader was very friendly, making the session comfortable and easy to approach.”|
|“The WriteWISE leader answered all my questions and even helped with questions that I would have had in the future. Very happy.”|
|“Great concept. Please continue this service across all the university faculties.”|
Are you interested in finding out more about the WriteWISE program? Contact the Learning Skills team at firstname.lastname@example.org