The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Optimising academic writing support for learners: the perspectives of lecturers

Emer Connolly, Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) (Ireland)


The Academic Writing Centre (AWC) at Technological University of the Shannon Midlands (TUS: Midlands) is a relatively new initiative. It was set up in 2015 and its staff provide academic writing support to all registered learners across every subject area (Kelly and Harding, 2016). The service is free of charge and is optional – the onus is on students to request academic writing support – and is open to learners of all abilities. Prior to its establishment, academic writing was previously available on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, similar to many other third level institutes (Cleary et al., 2009, p. 4.1).

Writing support is available through individual consultations in addition to writing seminars and presentations to classes. Topics covered in the seminars include writing literature reviews, critical writing, reflective writing, planning writing assignments, writing techniques, structure and referencing (Connolly, 2022b).

Students’ views and experiences in relation to the service was previously examined (Connolly, 2022a). Learners were asked to identify specific areas where they required academic writing support and the findings showed most support was required in relation to writing structure, followed by grammar and punctuation, referencing and paraphrasing, language and writing literature reviews.

A significant proportion of students request writing support on the advice of their lecturers. Given their key role in the process of writing support, this paper examines, specifically, lecturers’ interpretations on how best the AWC could run. How can learners be encouraged to engage with a service that is wholly optional? How, essentially, can the service be optimised?

Findings show that lecturers believe that content should be subject-specific and tailored to each individual or group. Topics including writing structure, grammar, punctuation and reading and writing skills should be a strong focus and a blended learning approach – tailored to the individual needs of learners – which was adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic – should be continued.

The idea of lecturers working in partnership with the AWC was supported by respondents; this avoids conflicting feedback and also helps to reinforce the role of the AWC (Ma, 2019).

The ongoing practice of AWC staff attending classes for introductory sessions – with lecturing staff present and playing an active role – was viewed as positive, as it provided the initial introduction to learners, many of who were more likely to request individual bookings as a result.

Key words:

Academic writing

Lecturers’ perspectives

Tailored writing support




Athlone Institute of Technology (2021) Academic Writing Centre., accessed 24 January 2023.


Cleary, L., Graham, C., Jeanneau, C. and O’Sullivan, I. (2009) Responding to the Writing Development Needs of Irish Higher Education Students: A Case Study, All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 1 (1), 4.1 – 4.16.


Connolly, E. (2022a) Examining students’ preferences for method of delivery of academic writing support at TUS (Midlands), Education Reference Guide, 42 – 43.


Connolly, E. (2022b) Developing Writing Skills Through Weblogs, Conference Proceedings, 12th International Conference, The Future of Education, Hybrid Edition, 30 June – 1 July, 518 – 522.


Kelly, E. and Harding, N. (2016) An Evaluation of the Academic Writing Centre in Athlone Institute of Technology., accessed 20 January 2023.


Ma, L. P. F. (2019) Academic writing support through individual consultations: EAL doctoral student experiences and evaluation, Journal of Second Language Writing, 43, 72 – 79.


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