Concern about student retention and success remains paramount in universities both in Australia and overseas, especially in the light of the ongoing massification of higher education, yet current strategies are not necessarily dealing successfully with the changing demographics of student populations. This is particularly so in the realm of developing student academic literacies. This paper argues strongly for a shift in approaches to the development of academic literacies, adopting current trends in peer learning rather than relying on the deficit model of study skills which is frequently employed at Australian universities. We present an overview of the innovative PASSwrite model, utilising the principles of peer-assisted study sessions (PASS) to create a peer-led informal environment in which students can develop their academic writing abilities in a collaborative, discipline-specific context. We posit that such an environment can better address students’ learning needs across a wide spectrum, from understanding the specific discourse of their discipline and receiving timely feedback on their writing, to developing confidence in their ability to navigate successfully a path through the maze of academia. We provide an outline of a PASSwrite session to demonstrate how this can be achieved, along with the anticipated outcomes. As the project is at an early stage at the time of writing, no firm conclusions can be made, but it is envisaged that these will be presented as the project matures.
Recommended CitationWilliamson, Frances and Goldsmith, Rosalie, PASSwrite: Recalibrating student academic literacies development, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 10(2), 2013.