The Tremough Undergraduate Writing Centre can accommodate six appointments per day

New initiative in English embeds peer-to-peer feedback

Students at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus have this week started to receive advice and support with writing projects by their own peer group.

Inspired by a model common in North American Liberal Arts Colleges, and following the huge success of the Undergraduate Writing Centre on the Exeter Streatham Campus, the Tremough Undergraduate Writing Centre provides students with support and guidance from their peers, facilitating a fresh discussion of academic writing.

This initiative has been launched with the support of an Individual Teaching Grant received by Dr. Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi, Lecturer in English.  This was received by the Higher Education Academy in order to develop a pilot project on ‘Academic Literacies: Embedding Peer-to-Peer Feedback in the Curriculum’.

Dr. Hadjiafxendi says, “Embedding peer-to-peer feedback in the curriculum offers peer consultants and student-writers opportunities to grow intellectually by actively participating in the assessment process and taking responsibility for their own learning. This pilot project will give students a different way to learn from one another; it is an opportunity for students to receive intensive, individualised support in a consultation that has a different dynamic from that of a member of academic staff.”

The Cornwall centre, which was fully-booked following its launch, can at full capacity accommodate up to six appointments a day and is open three days a week.  The peer-advisor team help students structure a convincing argument, develop their academic voice, and make the most of their abilities. There is no limit on the number of appointments students can make at the Writing Centre.  Whilst the service is currently only available to English students, there are plans to extend the centre’s services to provide in-class feedback to the entire College.

Chloe Statham, a Peer-Advisor for the Writing Centre in Cornwall, comments “I am already really enjoying working at the Writing Centre; it's a really rewarding experience and is a real confidence boost when it comes to working on my own essays”.

This innovative project, currently unique to the College of Humanities, has been running on the Streatham campus for a year. Student attendance succeeded expectations in the first term with visits from over 100 students. Over a quarter of these returned for further help later on in the academic year, and the model is likely to adopted by other Colleges within the University.

Nick Armstrong, an English student working as a Peer-Advisor at the Streatham Campus comments, “Students feel comfortable asking their peers what they might be afraid to ask staff.”  He also offered the following advice to any new Peer-Advisors on the Cornwall Campus: “At first it can be quite daunting to provide advice to your peers, but don’t be too intimidated - with time you will get to know what is needed.”

Dr. Sian Harris, Lecturer in English, and the founder of the project at Streatham, and Dr. Hadjiafxendi at the Tremough Centre are both looking forward to an intercampus collaboration.  Dr. Hadjiafxendi commenting, “We would like to develop an intercampus conversation not only because we share the same ethos, but also because we have a lot to learn from one another.”

Students wishing to book an appointment at the Tremough Undergraduate Writing Centre can email: You can also follow their news on facebook: UoETremoughUndergraduateWritingCentre and on twitter: @ExeterUniTUWC. For information on the Undergraduate Writing Centre at Streatham, please email or follow on Twitter: @ExeterUniUWC

Date: 26 October 2012

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