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Student Success Centre launches peer-assisted writing program for first-year students

By Nazeefa Ahmed, November 27 2023—

As of Fall 2023, the University of Calgary’s Student Success Centre launched peer-assisted writing sessions for first-year students. The 45-minute sessions provide first-year students the opportunity to receive feedback on assignments from trained peer writing mentors.  

“During sessions, Peer mentors engage in active reading of students’ work and assist students with finding SSC Writing Support resources they can utilize to become more effective writers and self-editors. Bring in your writing assignments at any stage–even if you are just starting out and want some help planning your process,” reads a statement from their website. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, writing support coordinator Dr. Kendall Heydon describes how the program supports first-year students as they transition to post-secondary writing expectations. 

“We specifically wanted to focus on first-year students as the target audience for this initiative because we think that it’s a really great way to bridge the gap between high school and university writing,” said Heydon. “Sometimes, first-year students can be a bit intimidated going to a writing tutor, and I think if they worked with upper-year students further along in their programs, it provides a welcoming learning environment.

Peer mentors who work with first-year students are provided a digital badge after being trained and completing a set number of hours of mentorship.

“It’s a digital badge program which provides students a mentorship opportunity and an opportunity not only to grow their experiences as peer mentors and academic writers but also they’ll get a digital badge for participation in the program for attending workshops and mentoring first-year students,“ said Heydon.  

Heydon describes how many students struggle to translate the thoughts in their minds into tangible works that can be communicated clearly to peers and professors. The mentorship provided to students is meant to close that gap. 

“One of the difficulties that students can often face is that they have all this wonderful knowledge and these good ideas, but they don’t have the writing skills that they might like and all of their ideas won’t get across to the instructor,” said Heydon. 

In his concluding remarks, Heydon emphasizes the value of developing clear and logical writing skills as it helps students succeed in their academic careers. 

“When students become better writers and better editors of their own work, it not only improves their grades and makes their writing experiences more productive, but it also really takes a lot of stress out of the university process, because, instead of not knowing how to approach projects, students approach their written work with greater confidence,” said Heydon. 

First-year students can register for a session with a peer mentor on Elevate. Those who would like to apply to be a peer mentor or would like more information about the programs offered can visit the Student Success Centre website.

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