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What a difference a writing centre makes: a small scale study

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Purpose ‐ Academic writing is often considered to be a weakness in contemporary students, while good reporting and writing skills are highly valued by graduate employers. A number of universities have introduced writing centres aimed at addressing this problem; however, the evaluation of such centres is usually qualitative. The paper seeks to consider the efficacy of a writing centre by looking at the impact of attendance on two "real world" quantitative outcomes ‐ achievement and progression. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Data mining was used to obtain records of 806 first-year students, of whom 45 had attended the writing centre and 761 had not. Findings ‐ A highly significant association between writing centre attendance and achievement was found. Progression to year two was also significantly associated with writing centre attendance. Originality/value ‐ Further, quantitative evaluation of writing centres is advocated using random allocation to a comparison condition to control for potential confounds such as motivation.

Keywords: Skills; Students; Written communications

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-08-17

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