Academic staff often lament their students’ abilities to write for academic purposes. To address these writing challenges, faculty members can seek support from their university writing centres. Despite the expertise that can be found in areas of writing pedagogy in this location, these partnerships can often be asymmetrical with the academic staff members’ ways of knowing overpowering those belonging to members of the writing centre. Perhaps these issues of inequity and disregard between disciplines are one reason at least half the collaborations that form in universities context fizzle rather than flourish. This article reports on findings from a reflective investigation done by three members of a collaboration that is currently flourishing in its efforts to help first and final year chemistry students learn how to write for academic and research purposes in their discipline at one university of technology in South Africa. Using in-depth interviews, we, two members of the chemistry department and the coordinator of the university writing centre, reflected on our experiences beginning, implementing, and moving the partnership forward. From this reflective process, we have realised that the team members possess particular characteristics (i.e. ways of thinking and being) that have perhaps enabled this enterprise to successful work towards its goal.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Article provides insights from an in-depth reflection on a symmetrical collaboration between academic and academic support staff.
  2. Collaborators' willingness to learn about others' disciplines and research could be key components in building effective partnerships that can help students learn how to write for their disciplines of study.
  3. Teaching and learning centres should not only help develop academic staff's pedagogic capacities but also their willingness to continue to learn from others outside of their disciplines.