At Waseda University, the Academic Writing Program has been providing writing courses and writing assistance for students across different academic fields. In 2004, we established a writing center, which was then one of the newest in Japan, to support undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professors throughout the campus. In 2008, we started an online academic writing course, mainly for first-year students. Although both practices began in a small scale, they developed over the years with the support of the department and the university. The program also owes its development to the contribution of the graduate students who took part in this program as academic writing consultants. Having said these, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all these people.
The Waseda University Writing Center encourages the development of the autonomy of writers and to not merely provide correction. Through individual consultations, writers can acquire skills to improve their papers by themselves. This philosophy is based on the philosophy of writing centers, which spread in the United States in the 1950s. The Waseda University Writing Center’s unique operating feature include: dealing with papers written in Japanese or English, discussing them with writers in a variety of language, recruiting tutors from all graduate schools, and providing writing consultation services to faculty members in addition to students of the university.
The “Academic Composition” course is an eight-week 1-unit on-demand course mainly offered to first year students enrolled in 13 undergraduate departments. Since it is a course offered to students across multiple disciplines, it aims to nurture students’ attitudes on academic learning and to facilitate their thinking through the act of writing. It consists of lessons that deal with the principles of academic writing, while the Writing Center functions as a support organization that tackles the application of academic writing principles.
In both practices, the Waseda University Academic Writing Program provides consultation and feedback individually. At the Writing Center, we advise each writer according to their individual needs, and in the “Academic Composition” course, we give comments and scores to each one of the writers throughout the eight-week course. The ability to accurately convey their thoughts, which are sometimes complicated in the academic field, are deemed to be a lifetime treasure of a student, which can be used even after they graduate and pursue their careers.
Our academic writing program is supported by many graduate students who are willing to dedicate their time in assisting the writers. Based on professional and rigorous training, they are engaged in academic writing education while writing their master’s theses or doctoral dissertations themselves. In some cases, undergraduate students who have received writing guidance from these graduate students take inspiration from their work and become writing counselors when they themselves become graduate students. Many of the graduate writing consultants, upon graduation, get full-time jobs related to academic writing in addition to their own field of specialization. Such contribution to other Japanese universities has been a source of pride for the program, as well.
The Academic Writing Program is still in the development stage; thus, we continue to devote ourselves to greater progress.
Faculty of International Research and Education