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UCD TEACHING AND LEARNING / Projects
Module Enhancement
Drop-In Writing Clinics
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Project: Drop-In Writing Clinics for Undergraduate Students in the College of Arts and Celtic Studies
Project Team: Fionnuala Dillane
Collaborator(s): None

Funding:

President’s Teaching Award 2010 funded by Targeted HEA Initiatives & SIF II

Timeline:

January 2011-June 2012
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background:

This is a pilot project support service for undergraduate students that responds to the following facts:

  • Being an undergraduate means being a writer
  • Writing is a skill
  • High standard of literacy is both a fundamental and a key graduate attribute
  • Committed students are under-performing because of poor execution of written work
  • There is a need for a clearly identifiable and accessible support system for this significant numbers of students

Undergraduate students taking subjects in the College of Arts and Celtic Studies were targeted in the initial phase of this project, which provided half-hour clinics that offer exercises, strategies and advice to address recurring difficulties in written work. Students were directed to the clinic timetable of available slots on the BA programme office website by email and signed up for sessions via the dedicated address: writing.clinics@ucd.ie

The clinics are not linked to individual modules and are not taken for credit. The Library offered an ideal environment for this initial phase of the project: the group rooms are set up to facilitate the particular dynamic of one-to-one sessions in a neutral non-school based space.

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goals:

Immediate Goal: To offer a non-credit based support service to undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Celtic Studies who want to develop their writing skills.

Longer Term Goals: The project hopes to measure the effectiveness of writing clinics as a critical intervention contributing to the following:

  • Elimination/reduction of mechanical errors in written work
  • Increased confidence in completing the form of assessment that dominates our curriculum: the written submission
  • Improved match between a student’s efforts and a student’s rewards in final results
  • More literate, confident, articulate graduate
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Methods:

The service is entirely student-oriented: students dictate the content of the half-hour sessions by bringing a piece of marked work to the clinic and an experienced tutor works with the student to identify problem areas while providing guidelines on the writing process in general. Clinic facilitators are highly experienced teachers, all post-graduate and post-doctorate scholars drawn from across the College of Arts and Celtic Studies. At the end each session, students complete a feedback form which provides key information about the value and effectiveness of the service.

The project will monitor:

  1. Take-up of Clinic Slots
  2. Student responses (via feedback forms and emails)
  3. Number of Return Visits
  4. Participating student grades

 

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Results:
In all, 7 tutors from 6 different schools worked one-to-one with over eighty undergraduate students from weeks 6-10 of Semester 2, 2010-11. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with close to 100% of the students testifying to the value of the sessions and asserting that they would recommend the clinics to other students.
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Next Steps:

Another set of clinics will run from weeks 6-10, Semester 1, 2011-12.

Data from both sets of clinics will be processed (student feedback forms; feedback from tutors; follow-up emails to participating students post results; analysis of student performance based on exam data) to measure the need for and effectiveness of these pilot clinics.

If the feedback indicates that a permanent centralised Writing Centre to support all students in the University is needed, the next step will be to secure a permanent space and ongoing funding for this basic student service.