The space between: pedagogic collaboration between a writing centre and an academic department
Mckay, Tracey Morton
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The expectations placed on students with respect to appropriate academic writing may hinder successful participation in Higher Education. Full participation is further complicated by the fact that each discipline within the University constitutes its own community of practice, with its own set of literacy practices. While Writing Centres aim to help students navigate their apprenticeship into these practices, their location on the periphery of academic activity may undermine these efforts. This article reports on an intervention aimed at initiating a more integrated approach to the provision of writing development services. It was undertaken within a qualitative, interpretive design-based research framework. The results suggest that Writing Centres can add significant value by leveraging their unique location within universities, that is, in the spaces between academic disciplines, to assist students to achieve epistemological access to a discipline. Writing consultants (the focus of this study) need to interact with different academic discourses. The result is that they engage, to an extent, in disciplinary ‘boundary-hopping’. We argue that Writing Centres should facilitate this by fostering a space for engagement between disciplines. The article concludes by arguing that further research on using the interstices between disciplines as a resource for developing student academic writing is required.