Peer-tutors supporting academic writing

Although published in 2013, this article highlights the benefits of using undergraduate peer-tutors to support academic writing not just with peers but postgraduates as well as members of staff : Apologia for Undergraduate Peer-tutors in writing by Lawrence Cleary

As you may assume…

…one claim that I have heard from individuals in my own institution is the claim that undergraduates do not have the expertise, the knowledge and experience needed, to tutor postgraduates or staff, and the truth is that, more often than not, the undergraduates themselves are frightened by the prospect and ask if we can reschedule the postgraduate or staff writer to another, more experienced tutor. And we do. We respect their fear. But a part of us knows that they are fully capable of conducting a productive session with anyone who comes through our doors. [page 1184]

Because…

Our undergraduate tutors are not in the business of giving answers, but of encouraging struggling writers to ask the questions that will lead to better writing and that will better facilitate their participation in the conversations of humankind. [page 1186]

Obviously they receive training and support…

These tutors are probably better prepared to tutor other writers than any of our postgraduate tutors because they have precisely the knowledge and experience needed to direct their peer’s talk about their papers. [page 1184]

And hence…

Our peer-tutors don’t need to know how to write their charges’ papers; the questions they ask their charges are the tools that struggling writers need to ask themselves if they are to develop as writers. [page 1186]

This seems worth reflecting on, especially when setting up peer mentoring programmes.

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