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New in-class visit program: Demystifying Academic Writing

New in-class visit program: Demystifying Academic Writing

The Writing Centre is excited to introduce our new in-class-visit program, Demystifying Academic Writing, which furthers the Writing Centre’s mission to support student success across the curriculum. The program is an excellent opportunity for instructors to contribute to their students’ success by introducing them to both the Writing Centre’s resources and its process-based approach to understanding and managing university-level academic assignments.  

We all want to help our students become better academic writers. So, let’s agree, first, that, as Peter Elbow emphasizes,

Standard [Academic] English is no one’s mother tongue

— Peter Elbow

We’ve all had to learn to navigate and negotiate the demands of academic reading and writing, to learn the dominant codes and then perform/apply those codes in/to discipline specific registers of English. But let’s remember that learning the standards of academic English ain’t easy; it produces a lot of anxiety in students - all students: Canadian-born, international, new arrivals, those who speak multi-dialectical varieties of English. Our classrooms consist of all levels of Academic English Language learners, all of whom are in the process of gaining fluency in the registers of their field – and they all find Academic Writing mystifying!  

That’s where this new Writing Centre program comes in: to demystify the process and practice of academic writing by revealing how actively integrating reading and writing as tools for learning disciplinary content can help students become better writers. We take a “strength’s based” approach that draws on students’ diverse skills and talents, that supports their plurilinguistic competencies as they work toward becoming better academic – and professional – writers.  Our approach has a direct impact on students’ engagement with course work and assignments: it teaches them to be active users of the academic dialect – to make use of it by consciously and critically appropriating its codes and conventions. We provide practical strategies (using sample texts from the field/syllabus) to show students how to make informed and rhetorically effective writing choices through active processes of reading.  

Our one-hour in-class workshop focuses on helping students respond to their coursework more effectively: we show them how to understand and approach their written assignments in strategic ways that connect the topic to the course material, explain how to clarify a research path, emphasize the importance of critical, analytical thinking, demonstrate methods for organizing material, and emphasize the role of repeated review and revision as an important and integral part of the writing process. 

So, please invite us into your classroom by filling out our Machform! To prepare for the visit, all we need from faculty/instructors is a course outline/syllabus and assignment instructions so that we can customize our lesson to suit the discipline and the subject matter of the assignment.  

Moreover, we offer follow-up workshops should instructors wish to consult with us on assignment design and on strategies for integrating academic literacies into their teaching as they continue to help students develop their writing skills across assignments. We’re available to answer questions, to talk about and share strategies that will help position TAs, too, to help students navigate and negotiate the demands of academic writing.

Bottom line? Think of Demystifying Academic English as a tailored, non-intrusive, discipline and course specific essay-writing power hour!