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Writing Centre

Overview 

The UWC Writing Centre aims to assist students with academic writing through providing support, feedback and advice, which is given by postgraduate tutors. It also helps lecturers to support the development of students’ writing in their courses.

About us

The Writing Centre is an academic unit which falls under the Directorate of Learning, Teaching and Student Success. We provide advice and support to both students and staff.
The mandate of the Writing Centre is to provide a supportive academic environment in which mainly undergraduate, and Honours students  can receive advice, guidance and constructive assistance with written tasks, assignments and other forms of writing. Whilst postgraduate students are mainly supported by the Directorate of Postgraduate Studies, they are also welcome to approach the Writing Centre for assistance with writing specifically.

The writing tutors who work at the Writing Centre are all Masters and PhD students working in a range of disciplines. They are well-trained in methods of consulting with students and giving constructive feedback.

The Writing Centre assists students directly and also supports lecturers who are concerned with developing the reading and writing abilities of students within their courses and disciplines. 
Information for students:
For students, we offer writing support, advice and feedback. There is no cost for our services. 

We offer assistance with the following elements of writing:

  • Planning an essay or assignment, analysing the question and developing or improving the structure of the assignment.
  • Developing a coherent argument, providing evidence to support an argument; a clear structure and relevant response to the question.
  • Appropriate writing style and tone.
  • Using sources from literature, referencing and avoiding plagiarism.
  • Assistance with grammar and punctuation errors if needed.
In our  work with students, we aim to achieve a balance between having a conversation with you about your work  and giving advice about how to improve it, depending on what your needs are. We will ask you questions about your work and your ideas to help you to clarify your thinking about the assignment topic, to make clear and well-supported arguments and to improve the flow and accuracy of your writing. We will work with you to build your confidence in your own ability to write and read at the level required of you at university. Our role is not to edit or proofread students’ work. Nor is it to help with content. 
 
Information for lecturers:
The Writing Centre provides a resource for students to access individually or in groups. In addition, we provide a resource to assist lecturers to support the reading and writing development of students within the context of modules being taught. 
 
The workshops that we offer to students need to be integrated with a course in some way, for example, an essay writing workshop should be related to a particular assignment task that students are currently working on. 
 
We are available to work collaboratively with lecturers to assist with:
Embedding academic literacies, particularly reading and writing development, into course materials and formative assessment tasks.
Structuring of formative assessment tasks to enhance scaffolding of learning.
Designing assessment criteria and rubrics.
 
Our tutors can provide formative feedback on drafts of students’ assignments in relation to writing as an integrated part of the course assessment strategy. We can also provide advice about giving feedback on students’ writing in formative assessment tasks, and assist with training of departmental tutors in this area.
 
If lecturers refer a number of students to the Writing Centre for help with a particular assignment, it is most effective if she or he briefs the tutors on the requirements of the task and what to emphasise in their feedback. 
 
Please contact Arona Dison at 021 959-2404 or email adison@uwc.ac.za to discuss what the Writing Centre can offer to help to develop your students’ writing.

How to book a consultation


We offer assistance to students with particular assignments that you are working on. You need to give us a draft of the writing task that you are working on, even if it is rough, for a tutor to provide you with feedback.

There are a few ways of booking a consultation:

  • Come to the Writing Centre and make an appointment with Ms Genevieve Daries, our administrator. 
  • Email Ms Daries (writingcentre@uwc.ac.za) to make an appointment with a tutor, or to request feedback via email, using the MSWord Comment function.
  • Call to make a booking on 021 959-2404.
You need to provide us with a copy of the draft of the writing you are working on, the assignment question (and instructions). If the lecturer has given you a rubric for the assignment, please share that with us as well. We should be able to give you an appointment within 24 hours, depending on how busy we are. Please leave yourself enough time to work on the assignment once you have received feedback.

During times when we cannot meet face-to-face appointments such as during the COVID-19 lockdown, you can email Ms Daries your draft. You can request to get detailed written feedback on your draft or to have an online conversation with a tutor, either on an online platform or over a WhatsApp call, depending on what your needs are. If you have received written feedback, you may still request to have an online conversation with your tutor if there are issues that you want to discuss.

News and Events



Friday Alaji, one of our writing tutors, published a piece on the blog of “WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship”, in July. His piece was entitled “Stories and Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19 on UWC Writing Centre Work”.
 
He was then asked to write a piece about the UWC Writing Centre for the WLN journal blog "Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders" in August.

PROJECTS


Feedback on the Writing of Education Honours students.

We wish to highlight a collaborative project that the Writing Centre has been working on with Dr Karen Collett, from the Education Faculty, for a number of years.
 
In 2020, Writing Centre tutors assisted in three different modules in the field of Leadership in Education, giving online feedback to BEd Honours students. These courses were offered to mature, working students, most of whom last studied at university many years ago. Thus they needed assistance and support with regard to academic writing. For the last few years, the Honours students have been supported through online as well as some face-to-face feedback in their lectures as they were not able to visit the Writing Centre during office hours. When students could not come to campus at all because of the COVID-19 lockdown, they benefited greatly from this support system which was already in place, and which supported their learning and writing development.
 
The modules were structured in such a way that the assignment is broken into a number of stages which all contribute to an overall assignment (i.e. a research essay or a journal article. The final assignments form the summative assessment for the course. Students were given detailed formative feedback in response to the components of the assignment using Google Docs initially, and then the peer review function of Turnitin. These processes involved a total of 42 students in three modules.
 

The Writing Centre has also been involved in projects to support students in the following departments in 2020:

 
Department Year level Written task/nature of assistance Student Numbers
Pharmacy 2nd year Summary writing 200
Nursing Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) and 
1st year
Academic writing generally Total of 210
Biotechnology 3rd year Literature review 24
Social Work 3rd year Research proposal 91
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) RPL (prior to university entrance) Assignment
Research essay
65

Scholarship and Publications

  • Collett, K.S. and Dison, A. (2019). Decentering and recentering the writing centre using online feedback: Towards a collaborative model of integrating academic-literacies development. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, 57: 79-98.
  • Dison, A. and Hess-April, L. (2019). Integrating academic literacies into the curriculum in Occupational Therapy: Currents of disruption and congruence in a collaborative process. In L. Quinn (Ed.). Reimagining curriculum: spaces for disruption. Sun Media, 127-148.
  • Dison, A. (2018). Development of students’ academic literacies viewed through a political ethics of care lens. South African Journal of Higher Education. 32(6): 66-88.
  • Bozalek, V., Mitchell, V., Dison, A., & Alperstein, M. (2016). A diffractive reading of dialogical feedback through the political ethics of care. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(7), 825-838.
  • Munje, P.N., Nanima, R.D. and Clarence, S. (2018). The role of questioning in writing tutorials: a critical approach to student-centered learning in peer tutorials in higher education. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 26(3), 336-353.
  • Nanima, R. D. (2019). From physical to online spaces in the age of the# FeesMustFall protests: A Critical Interpretative Synthesis of writing centres in emergency situations. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus (SPiL Plus), 57, 99-116.

Ongoing scholarly projects

The Writing Centre is involved in a research project on embedding academic literacies development in the Faculty of Education. The project team involves Drs Karen Collett, Moira Bladergroen, Lucinda du Plooy, Nosisi Dlamini and Arona Dison.
 
Arona Dison and Karen Collett have submitted a chapter for a book on Teacher Education in the COVID-19 era. This was written together with two Writing Centre tutors. The tutors are Ms Irene Nyamu and Ms Timalizge Zgambo. The chapter is titled “Integrating care-full online formative feedback by tutors in Teacher Education”.

Resources and links

Academic writing in general 

Referencing

Literature Review 

CV Writing ​

Digital literacy

Useful links:

Writing Centre sites from other universities:

Social Media

People

Dr Arona Dison
Coordinator of the Writing Centre

Ms Genevieve Daries
Administrator

Contact us


The Writing Centre is located on the ground floor of the Old Arts Building, underneath the Faculty of Arts, and opposite the side entrance to B-Block.

The location of the Centre is marked on a sticky note on the map below, which is downloadable in PDF form. We are in building 22.

Map to UWC Writing Centre​​

Contact details: 

Email: writingcentre@uwc.ac.za
Telephone: (021) 959-2404
Office hours: Monday to Friday 9h00 to 16h00

Please feel free to come and chat to us about what we can offer. We look forward to meeting you, and helping you with your writing.