Getting it Write during
transition: An academic writing
Dr Rebecca Westrup, Teresa Caldwell,
Adam-Louie Jones and Hugh McGowan
Liverpool Hope University
Widening Participation & Essay
• Significant growth in participation rates in UK
• In 1995 32% of the population under 30 were in
higher education (HE)
• In 2003 the Government set a recruitment target
of 50% of 18-30 year olds being in HE by 2010
(Ivanic and Lea, 2006).
Essay Writing during Transition
• Contrasting teaching practices (Ballinger, 2003)
• Contrasting assessment practices
• Different requirements and expectations
• How are students prepared?
The Practice Strand
The Community Strand
The Policy Strand
Aims of the project
• Assess strengths and limitations
• Assess the experiences of mentors and
• Assess changes in beliefs and attitudes
to studying and academic writing
• Assess changes in students’ academic
writing during the programme
• Assess mentees’ transition experiences
at six-month follow-up, on arrival in HE.
The Practice Strand at LHU
• One-to-one mentoring - 60 students
• “Masterclass” – 89 students
• Mentor-led “masterclass” – 45 students
Mentoring Activities: Year 12
• What is academic writing?
• Answering the question and structuring the
• Evaluating, evidencing and referencing
• The reviewing and re-writing process
Mentoring Activities: Year 13
• What is expected of me at university?
• Making the most of feedback
• The importance of critical friend
• Discussion tool
• Exploring students’ understandings and
expectations of writing and assessment at
What makes a ‘good’ essay?
Adapted from Norton, L.S. (1990) Essay writing: What really counts? Higher
Education, 20 (4), 411-442.
Students’ experiences of the
• “Learning about writing assignments really helped
• “Useful information on essay writing which I can use
for university. Good to talk to current students”
• “[I] got more understanding of what to expect”
• ‘pleased I took part as my grades have improved
from Cs to Bs’
Ballinger, J (2003) Bridging the gap between A level and degree: some observations
on managing the transitional stage in the study of English Literature. Arts and
Humanities in Higher Education, 2, 1, 99-109.
Ivanic, R. and Lea, M. (2006) ‘New Contexts, New Challenges: the Teaching of
Writing in UK Higher Education’ in L. Ganobcsik-Williams (Ed.) Teaching Academic
Writing in UK Higher Education. New York Palgrave.