The Academic Skills Service
Peer mentors provide free support virtually, via email or face-to-face during term time. They offer support to students on academic writing and study skills, and can help you with:
- Gaining confidence as a writer and developing your skillset.
- Learning how to navigate technology and Uni systems.
- Support on critical reading and note-taking skills.
- Support on essay planning, structure, reflective and critical writing, literature reviews, and dissertations.
- Support with referencing and proofreading techniques.
- Support with presentation and time management skills.
- Support on revision and exam techniques.
- Understanding feedback from your tutors.
- Access to free online resources.
- Access to free online one-to-one appointments and online feedback for essays.
- Bookable workshops outside of class time and online webinars.
The peer mentors cannot:
- Proofread your assignments or dissertations.
- Advise on content or subject-related issues.
- Make corrections or changes to an assignment.
- Correct or teach grammar.
- Mark or evaluate pieces of work.
To find out more take a look at our Academic Skills FAQs and our short informative video about the mentoring service.
There are three different types of appointments:
Once you have filled out our online booking form we will contact you via your hope email address within 48 hours and send you a calendar invite with information about the appointment date/time and the name of your mentor. This invite will have an online meeting link called “Join with Google Meet” which you can click on to start the appointment. This is a free online video application available for all Gmail account holders. You can add live captions, share your screen, and message (share links and files) each other in the chat section. Please use Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari as your browser (some students have had technical issues using Internet Explorer).
We ask all students to confirm that they are able to attend the appointment by clicking ‘yes’ on the calendar invite. If you don’t do this, we will assume you cannot make the appointment and this slot will be reallocated to the next student. The mentor will be logged onto the video call for the first 15 minutes of the session, in case you have any delays logging in, after that we will assume you are not able to attend and we will end the appointment.
If you have booked an appointment and would like help with Hope University systems and IT, we may send you a Zoom Calendar invite instead, so that the mentor has the ability to access your screen.
We ask that all students turn on their cameras, if possible, as this helps the mentee gauge your understanding and helps build your relationship with your dedicated mentor. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, just let your mentor know at the beginning of the session.
If you would like to send your academic work to the mentor before the session, please email it across and let us know what areas you would like the mentor to focus on. Please note they only have 15 minutes before your session starts to look at your work, so please focus on one area. You can discuss this in more detail in your appointment and if there is time, go on to a different area of focus.
If you would like to book another appointment please fill out another booking form or email us with your availability and what you would like to focus on in your next session.
You can make an appointment to receive written feedback on a draft assignment. Once you have filled out the booking form you will get an email response saying that the mentor has been booked a slot to look at your work and will email you within two working days. Please reply and attach your work with your assignment brief to your email, highlighting specific areas of concern and what you would like the mentor to focus on. Here are a few examples below:
- Conclusion or introduction.
- Planning or structure.
- Writing style or academic tone.
- Understanding feedback.
Please note the mentor will only be able to look at a few paragraphs, so try and highlight which areas you want the mentor to focus on. If you are emailing your dissertation across please don’t email the entire piece of writing - just the section you want the mentor to focus on. Please ensure you are booking this type of appointment well in advance of your deadline.
Face to face appointments
Once face-to-face appointments become available again we will update our booking form. Once you have booked your appointment, you will be sent an email calendar request with the date/ time, location of the mentor's office and the name of the mentor you will be seeing (your confirmation will include a map).
Definitions of important terminology used in Academic writing
Explanation of what academic writing style is with examples created by the Academic Skills Unit at the University of Portsmouth provides five technical qualities that make a piece of writing 'academic'.
Critical Active Reading Resources
Active reading is a skill that is developed by critically engaging with the content you are reading, proactively questioning, and delving deeper into the book, journal, or article. If you read passively, you may need to read the page over and over again before you internalise it. If you are more focused on the material you are reading, you will be able to form your own opinion about the content and will be able to summarise the content in your own words.
Reading efficiently by Loughborough University advice sheet looks at the different reading techniques such as skimming, scanning, and speed reading.
Information about the SQ3R reading technique is available on The Open University website, this technique is used for actively engaging with and extracting meaning from content whilst reading and it is also a great technique for revising.
Guide on how to read academically by The University of Southampton looks at strategies and systems to improve your efficiency and effectiveness. This useful guide explores how you can improve your critical reading skills and help you to interact more effectively with texts and articles
Critical Note-taking Resources
Note-taking is a technique that will help you write your essays, dissertation and help you revise for your exams. This useful skill allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your subject, record and organise key information, taken from your lectures and research.
Take a look at our top tips for notetaking resource sheet.
Taking notes advice sheet from the Library Support team at Loughborough University summarises the importance of taking notes and gives useful tips on how to take notes in class, from written sources, and how to condense notes.
Note-taking can be done in many different forms, so find a technique that suits you:
Mind maps (a visual form of note-taking, where a central idea expands outward through the use of colours, images, and words). This mind mapping guide created by the Writing Centre Learning Guide at The University of Adelaide, tells you what a mind map is, how to create one and what the benefits are. Illumine Training offers useful mind map examples on their website page that you can download, the examples are from a range of different subject areas, some are hand-drawn and some have been produced on Mind Mapping software.
In the library, we also have Inspiration software available on the PCs on the ground floor, 1st floor, and on 5 laptops available from the library help point. This software offers different techniques such as Concept Mapping (links concepts and ideas together with words), Mind Mapping, Webbing (brainstorming method in form of a visual map), and Outlining (used to organise thoughts and information with a heading and subheadings).
Evernote app allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts, and images in different ways. You can record ideas, create lists and share files with friends.
Highlighting and annotating (identifying and then highlighting the main point) (summarising in your own words an argument or idea/concept). Highlighting and annotating guide by Study Success at Sussex University has a useful exercise to help you practice identifying the key areas in a text using highlighting and annotation. There is also a useful step-to-step guide on how to annotate a source available on the Writers' Center website at the Eastern Washington University.
Our top resources
Useful glossary of essay terms explained that are used in essay questions by Student Learning Development at the University of Leicester.
OWL prewriting website page created by the English Department at Purdue University lists the different techniques to help you start writing.
PEEL paragraph writing by the Virtual Library by Virtual Library, explains how to use the PEEL approach to provide a structure to your writing.
Manchester Academic Phrasebank created by John Morley at The University of Manchester has lots of examples and can help with thinking critically, structuring and dissertations.
Punctuation and Grammar Fact sheets created by the Study Skills Office at UNE.
OWL writer's online guide to writer's block created by the English Department at Purdue University has useful techniques to help you get pen to paper.
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) created by the English Department at Purdue University, also has many writing resources and material available to use.
How to Write Dazzlingly Brilliant Essays: Sharp Advice for Ambitious Students article by Oxford Royale Academy shares actionable tips for writing essays.
Once you have reviewed your notes and read the further reading you will be ready to start writing your essay, have a look at our structure and critical writing resources available on our Moodle pages. To find us, sign in to my hope, click on the Moodle tile and then select ‘My courses’ and pick ‘STUSKILLA/2021/2’ in the drop-down menu.