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Easing the Transition into Academic Writing for Higher Education: Lessons from the Flying Start Project

UCAS Offices, Cheltenham
10 November 2010 14:00-16:00

Professor James Elander, Head of the Centre for Psychological Research and Professor Lin Norton, Director of the HEA NTFS project 'Flying Start'

Many students entering university struggle with writing their first assignments, and grapple with issues ranging from how to structure an essay and develop an argument, to a panic about exactly what is expected of them in their academic writing. For some, the experience of producing their first assignment can be a major influence on decisions about whether to continue in Higher Education. The problem is complex: no single countermeasure is likely to be effective, and a cross-sector approach will probably be needed to make a significant impact.

Funded by the Higher Education Academy for two years from September 2008, the Flying Start Project has focused on helping students of the 'League Table Generation' make the transition into Higher Education (see The project has developed and evaluated mentoring programmes in which undergraduate student writing mentors work with FE students and school pupils to develop their writing skills. The team has also worked with teachers and lecturers across the schools, FE and HE sectors in a range of projects focusing on discipline-based issues in student writing transitions.

In this seminar, Professors James Elander (University of Derby) and Lin Norton (Liverpool Hope University) will present outcomes from the project and discuss the implications of the work. These include practical and pedagogic measures to support and promote student writing in the transition to university, and recommendations for national education policy.


The UCAS research forums aim to provide:

  • increased understanding of the UK's education policy context
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  • robust approaches to research in the area of admissions and widening participation.

The forums are held in Cheltenham, at UCAS' offices, from 2 to 4pm. Tea, coffee and biscuits are served from 1.30pm.

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