Writing in and for the academy: collaborative writing development with students and lecturers at the UWC Writing Centre
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Writing and reading critically are core academic practices that many South African tertiary students struggle with throughout undergraduate study. This is partly due to a lack of competency in English as a first language, and partly due to a lack of preparation at primary and secondary school level. Critical reading and writing practices need to be developed simultaneously, and contextually. The Writing Centre at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is currently exploring ways to make itself a more relevant and focused part of the University’s teaching and learning interventions and strategies, and to make it more responsive to the multiple reading, writing and language needs of students. Influenced theoretically and practically by New Literacy Studies and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) approaches, the Writing Centre is working to position itself as part of a teaching and learning environment that develops and supports both student writers and disciplinary lecturers. We aim to do this by foregrounding, theorising, researching and building a culture of writing intensive teaching that imagines and uses writing as a tool for learning, thinking and evaluation, as well as for assessment. In order to become a significant part of teaching and learning in higher education more generally, Writing Centres will need to work increasingly with lecturers to address the writing and reading needs of students in a supportive, critical and collaborative space that better serves the needs of both parties.
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