Oh! Academic Writing Advisors – I didn’t know they did that …

Presenters: Robyn McWilliams, Quentin Allan and Sue Raleigh


Consistent with the theme of cultivating relationships in learning and teaching, this presentation is oriented towards raising awareness for lecturers about how Academic Writing Advisors (AWAs) support students who are experiencing challenges with assignments. Theoretically, we revisit the best-practice model proposed by McWilliams and Allan (2014) and drill down into the current processes involved in embedding sustainable academic literacies support in faculty papers.

We start by outlining the mechanisms for responding to a request from a faculty lecturer, and then move on to discuss practical ways in which we integrate literacies teaching in a specific discipline area. As a case study, we share the experiences of responding to a lecturer request to develop teaching materials to support students in an assignment for Human Anatomy & Physiology (HEAL609), a second-semester paper in AUT’s School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies. From the faculty lecturer’s perspective, interacting with an AWA was a new experience, and this collaboration has enhanced the way academic literacies are approached in this paper. Given that in 2020 much of the university’s work has moved to online teaching, the focus of academic literacies development has expanded to encompass asynchronous modes including video resources.

The focus in this case study is on helping students understand how to respond appropriately to short answer questions. The lecturer’s disciplinary expertise and insight into students’ academic writing difficulties complements AWAs linguistic and pedagogical knowledge in a unique response to the evolving e-learning environment. Our findings will be discussed.

McWilliams, R., & Allan, Q. (2014). Embedding academic literacy skills: Towards a best practice model. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 11(3), 1-20. http://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol11/iss3/8