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Writing Mentor Indira Unnava

25 August 2020

We ask Writing Mentor Indira for her advice on tackling common assignment problems

How are you going managing your assignments now that we’ve passed the halfway mark for T2? Are you a little unsure of where to start, how to reference correctly or perhaps you’re not feeling confident about how to approach a specific part of your assignment? 

We asked Deakin student and Writing Mentor Indira Unnava what it’s like being a Writing Mentor and her advice on how you can improve your assignments, particularly as we’re now studying online.

What course are you studying, and at which campus?

I am in my third year studying Environmental Engineering at the Waurn Ponds Campus.

What are you hoping to do after university professionally?

I am hoping to work as an environmental consultant for the water or energy industries. I am also considering future pursuits in the academic world with an aim towards research-oriented industry.

What is your favourite thing about being a Writing Mentor?

I really enjoy contributing to university life and helping students. As a Writing Mentor, I love that I am able to encourage students to become more confident in their work and assignments. It is a very rewarding experience to be able to contribute to a positive learning experience and it’s great when students figure out the solutions to their problem.

What are common reasons students will get in touch with you for help?

Students could get in touch with Writing Mentors for various reasons. Referencing is one of the most common issues that students enquire about. It could be about a book, or a journal article or an infographic – it can be confusing to format and find the appropriate details to reference the source, especially since there are many different referencing styles. Students often tend to use reference generators which may get them into trouble because they are unreliable. I always begin with showing the student the Deakin guide to referencing to simplify the process and guide them through it.

Students often also ask about assignment help, especially questions about understanding the assignment criteria, if their solutions are appropriate or to discuss their thoughts about the assignment. This is slightly more difficult as a mentor, as no one answer fits all. We do not proofread the student’s work, instead we focus on what they have learned in the unit so far and ask open-ended questions to provoke discussion, so the student ends up answering their own questions. We then discuss strategies to improve on those areas and refer students to relevant online resources included in Deakin’s Academic skills guide.

Another common query is about time management and general study skills. Time management and establishing a routine is a challenge that is always being refined and improved for everybody as life goes on. It is really important to figure out what works for you at this point in time and what can best help you to achieve your goals.

How can a student get the most out of a Writing Mentor drop-in or appointment online?

We are a drop-in service, so you don’t need to make an appointment with us. You can just join the Bb Collaborate room with your doubts and work ready, and a Writing Mentor will be able to help you out.

University can be an overwhelming experience, and nobody can automatically be expected to know how to be a student. We help students gain confidence to learn and to better understand their expectations. As mentors, students can relate to our stories about the challenges we have faced. For example, we might talk about our challenges with time management and how we overcame them, which can reassure students and build their confidence. Students can also expect to become independent learners, as we engage with them in discussions, listening carefully and asking questions.

It can be slightly challenging delivering the service online, as you may face audio technical issues, but it doesn’t actually disturb the support you will receive. There is a chat function in the Bb Collaborate Room which can be just as effective.

What are your top three tips for students who are trying to improve their writing?

  1. Become confident with referencing, as this will save you heaps of time and hassle when completing your assignments. The best thing is to start your reference list early when you are doing your research and note-taking.
  2. Assignments and reading material at university all rely on using library resources. Becoming familiar with and finding appropriate and reliable references is a skill that does take time to develop. Start on this early, so you can find it easier as you complete more research-based assignments where you need to find peer-reviewed journal articles or specific conference papers.
  3. Writing an assignment plan, using Deakin’s Assignment Planner, can be really helpful as it allows you to figure out how much time you need to dedicate to completing an assignment while balancing your units, lectures and other commitments.

Get in touch today!

Sometimes when you’re having issues with an assignment, it’s just helpful to talk things through. The Writing Mentors drop-in service can also help you review any feedback you’ve received on your first assignments so you can think about the academic skills you’ll need to focus on in your next assessments. Additionally, they can offer you tips on researching, understanding assignment questions and how to plan and structure your work. 

If you want to chat to someone about any aspect of your assignment, attend one of our interactive online drop-in sessions hosted by a Writing Mentor like Indira! You don’t need an appointment, just bring your assignment and your questions. You can also get in touch via email for referencing questions and brief queries.

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