Improving Writing Skills

October’s Workshop Wednesday was a presentation by Scott Poole, EALTCP Coordinator in the UWinnipeg’s English Language Program.  Scott talked about what instructors can do to help improve the writing skills of our students.

There is no magic bullet that will make students write better.  Writing is a skill that takes time and feedback in order to improve.  Scott offered a number of ways that instructors can help with.  To highlight just three:

  1. Conferences: one on one coaching with students is the best way for students to get meaningful feedback and for instructors to assess that the feedback has been heard and understood.
    While not easy with the numbers in some of our classes, this may be done selectively with those students that need more help than others.
  2. Rework: for students to truly learn and get the opportunity to improve, students need repetition.  In the ideal world, that means allowing students to rework submissions so that they can build on their skills and get more feedback.
    As our classes generally run over very short periods of time, this may not always be possible.  A variation of this can be achieved by laddering assignments, where they build or come together so that students get that opportunity to apply feedback and try to learn and grow in their skills.
  3. Peer editing: even when peers’ skills may be weak, getting a second set of eyes to look at a document can help both people to grow their skills.
    This does not mean that the peer rewrites the paper, and the topic may itself need some coaching and explanation in our classes as this is a new concept for many.  The benefits though can be tremendous.

In general, we run an Instructor Workshop session the first Wednesday of most months.  They are always voluntary, we encourage you to come and share experiences, meet other instructors, and pick up some tips.


This past Friday was convocation for all PACE graduates in the past year.  We hold convocation once a year, every October.  It was quite an event with a record number of PACE students in attendance.

As instructors, it is a very rewarding and moving experience to see our former students take to the stage and receive their diploma and congratulations from the Vice Chancellor of the University.

If you didn’t attend this year, I encourage you to put it on your radar for next year and attend.

Tips on Assignment Instructions

As another group of students settles into month two of their program it is interesting to see how questions are repeated between the different programs and over the years.  A common theme that comes up is on assignment instructions.

While not universal to all students, many of our students express feeling overwhelmed with keeping everything up to date and straight in their minds.  To help them out, instructors can try some of these tips:

  • put assignment instructions into stand alone documents on Nexus.
    • This helps students in being able to quickly find the instructions for each assignment within each course.
  • put assignment instructions into a stand along folder for assignment instructions on Nexus
    • Like above, it becomes a one stop shop for students to be able to find what they need.
  • ensure that instructions contain all the information students need
    • While it seems basic, it’s easy to take for granted what students want to know: due date, due time, format for submission, length of submission, font size & style, line spacing, first person / third person, value of the assignment, rubric or marking criteria

Giving students a one stop shop that answers all their questions helps reduce anxiety in students and also helps cut down on questions for instructors!

Nexus Cleanup

The University has announced that Nexus will be getting cleaned up on November 30 by removing any course material older than the Spring / Summer 2016 session.

If you have material from before then, you will want to log in and download it.  If you need help, reach out to us and we will guide you through it.

If there are other course offerings that you don’t feel need to be on Nexus anymore, let us know and we can have those removed as well.