As the Writing Centre was established at Noragric and was later opened up for all NMBU students, the majority of students who visit the Writing Centre are still from LandSam. However, visitation has increased from Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, School of Economics and Business and Biosciences. There are few visits from Veterinary Medicine and Science and Technology.
Reasons for visits
About half the students who visit the Writing Centre are enrolled in the academic writing courses LNG240 and EDS275. As part of the course, students are encouraged to book a weekly 30 min consultation to get assistance on their writing assignments. The Writing Centre is also open for students who need help with other types of academic writing including lab reports, term papers and theses. The demand for this type of assistance is growing rapidly. Since the autumn semester, the number of appointments concerning bachelor or master theses has tripled. Writing Advisors who are currently writing their thesis or have recently graduated are most comfortable and competent to assist with master theses. During spring 2017, 77% of these thesis appointments were handled by senior writing advisors.
The Writing Centre is open for both appointments and drop-in for all NMBU students. The majority of students who use the centre are master students, followed by bachelor students. The Writing Centre has established a new online booking system to make it easier for students to book appointments. This has worked very well and 72% of all students booked an appointment prior to visiting the Writing Centre.
The Writing Centre offers appointments in both Norwegian and English, but the majority of consultations are still in English, as the majority of Writing Advisors are native English speakers. However, we see an increase in the number of students that want help with Norwegian texts, or are more comfortable with discussing English texts in Norwegian. The academic writing course was also given in Norwegian for the first time in the Spring of 2017, which has led to an increase in the demand for Norwegian appointments.
The Writing Centre staff additionally produces online resources on academic writing for NMBU students. The Write and Cite online tutorial on using references and how to avoid plagiarism is available on the Writing Centre webpages, as well as through the library. Currently, we are creating an online course in scientific writing for natural sciences, which covers all steps of writing a master thesis from planning the research process, searching for information, writing and defense of the thesis. Simultaneously, the Writing Centre is adapting the educational material from this course into a resource portal available for all NMBU students. The resource portal consists of videos and written material produced by the Writing Centre as well as links to external resources and useful websites. The online resource page for master students is currently available on Canvas, but is still under construction.
Workshops and guest lectures
The Writing Advisors observe first-hand what students are struggling with, and can respond directly to student’s needs by developing tailored workshops. We have previously arranged workshops on writing a bachelor thesis, as well as annual oral presentation and master thesis defense workshops. These workshops are in high demand and usually fill up quickly. We are currently developing a workshop on basic computer skills for writing and information searching for new bachelor students.
During the spring semester of 2017 the Writing Centre arranged weekly writing labs that offered students a structured writing environment with regularly scheduled breaks. Writing advisors were available to provide writing assistance and give small lectures on useful writing tips during the writing lab. This became very popular, and we expanded from one to two days a week by the end of the spring semester. The Writing Centre has received several requests to continue this service during autumn 2017, but have currently not found an appropriate and available rom.
The Writing Centre staff also give guest lectures on academic writing as part of various courses at NMBU. In addition, some course responsibles ask the Writing Centre to provide students with individual feedback on term paper drafts. We provide this service if we have writing advisors willing to work extra hours outside normal opening hours, to ensure it does not affect our regular service. The Writing Centre experiences increasing demand for guest lectures and workshops for both students and PhDs at NMBU and in some cases, for associated universities involved in development projects with NMBU. All online resources, workshops and guest lectures are currently organized by senior writing advisors that will soon be moving on to pursue further studies.
As more students become aware of the Writing Centre we expect visitation numbers to continue to increase. We are responding to this demand by increasing our availability with new satellite locations. We opened a satellite location at Sørhellinga, which we aim to have open five days a week during autumn 2017. We hope also to open a location at Campus Adamstuen in the near future.