Win-Win for Staff and Students
The 'Peer Writer' Programme at Victoria University of Wellington
Keywords:tertiary education, academic literacy, peer-support, learning advising
Universities have the unique advantage of working with senior students to enhance their leadership and employability skills. One successful pan-university initiative at VictoriaUniversity of Wellington has been to employ senior students as ‘Peer Writers’ within the well-established Student Learning Te Taiako centre. Peer Writers work alongside Learning Advisors to offer free one-on-one writing and study assistance for all students. Postgraduate students are best suited to the position of Peer Writers, as they have more advanced levels of tertiary writing, flexible lecture schedules, experience across different disciplines, and a ‘been there and done that’ attitude in terms of the student experience. As Peer Writers, current postgraduate students are recruited, trained and paid to typically conduct 600 student appointments throughout the academic year. From 1999-2003, VUW’s former International Office employed ‘Peer Editors’ to work with English as an Additional Language (EAL) students, before becoming part of Student Learning (SL) in 2004. The change of name from ‘Peer Editors’ to ‘Peer Writers’ was undertaken to clarify that the service provided by SL is ‘teaching-based’ rather than proof-reading or professional editing. In this way, Peer Writers complement the Learning Advisors’ role by attending to academic-writing-related issues. Any student, from first year to postgraduate, can make an appointment with a Learning Advisor or a Peer Writer through the Student Learning reception, with bookings made in person, by email or over the phone. The “Peer Writer” service is advertised in university publications, at first-year orientation events, on the Student Learning website and by word of mouth. This collaborative approach enables the busy Student Learning service to offer academic support for as many students as possible throughout the university.