Seek help early, read your work carefully: Writing Mentor Carina shares her tips on creating strong assignments
It’s that time of the trimester when assignments are rolling in! Are you ready to tackle these with confidence or are you feeling a little unsure of where to start?
We asked Deakin student and Writing Mentor Carina Mammone to tell us more about what it’s like being a Writing Mentor and her top tips for creating outstanding assignments. Carina is currently studying a double degree, comprising a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics.
What are you hoping to do after university professionally?
I’m pretty open-minded, but my ultimate goal is to contribute to social policy by utilising both my health and economics background, potentially working in a behavioural economics unit in government!
Why did you want to become a Writing Mentor at Deakin?
I became a Writing Mentor in 2019, in my third year at Deakin. This was because I found Deakin a really comfortable place to be in but I also enjoyed working with and helping other students. I also discovered that the Writing Mentor program takes a really holistic approach to student experience, which I appreciated!
In your experience, what are the most common writing problems that many students face?
Learning how to use the various referencing guides is probably the most common. But a lot of students need support with generally getting started with assignments and finding the best approach to writing. This is across a range of students too, from mature-aged students, students who have just graduated high school, and Masters students.
What sort of challenges do you think students face studying online?
Studying online has presented us all with different challenges, but I think one we can all resonate with is the lack of conversation and discussion. Compared to attending classes in person, virtual classrooms make it difficult to start interesting conversations that might inspire assignment directions or help with starting assignments in general. I know I have missed these! A few students who have approached the Writing Mentors recently are just looking for someone to bounce ideas off and get some reassurance that they are on the right track (and most of the time, they are!)
What are your top three tips for students who may lack confidence in their writing and who want to improve?
- Find a study buddy who you can chat to about your ideas and perspective. They may not be studying the same unit as you, but having them say ‘that sounds interesting, I want to know more’, or ‘wow, you know what you’re talking about’, is sometimes all the reassurance we need to dive into our assignments.
- I also find reading my work out loud really useful. That way, any grammatical or phrasing mistakes are easier to find and fix. However, this doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes it’s more helpful to hear someone else read it. You can ask a Writing Mentor to help or even set up your word processing program to read to you!
- There are also a bunch of resources out there to help you improve your writing. Try browsing the Study Support site or using a search engine to find Deakin resources on writing, or look for YouTube videos that break down good writing habits if that’s useful in helping you learn.
How can a student get the most out of a Writing Mentor drop-in or appointment online?
The earlier you see a Writing Mentor, the more you will get out of it! If you’re struggling to start an assignment, a Writing Mentor can help with planning your approach to writing. If you’re not sure about how you have structured your paragraph, visit a Writing Mentor with one of your paragraphs that can be used to look for anything that may reduce the quality of your writing. Leaving your visit until the last minute can make the session feel rushed and less impactful, as we will help you reflect on your piece and suggest resources to improve your work, which is difficult to do if you have a deadline that afternoon! Many students underestimate the time that needs to go into each assignment.
It’s also important to remember that Writing Mentors can’t proofread any student’s work, as we are all students too! If you would like to spend some more in-depth time with someone discussing your piece, your best bet is to book an appointment with a Language Learning Advisor. Writing Mentors won’t have time to read entire responses.
What are your favourite things about being a Writing Mentor at Deakin?
I have loved every second of being a Writing Mentor at Deakin! Getting to meet other students is one of my favourite things for sure. I also enjoy seeing students leave full of confidence after they have made a plan to get their assignment done and meet their goals! Supporting other students is exciting, meaningful and has helped me grow as a professional. I would recommend it to anyone interested in writing and helping others!
Get in touch with a Writing Mentor 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 drop-in sessions hosted by a Writing Mentor like Carina! You can opt to attend one of the daily online drop-in sessions or attend the weekly on-campus sessions at Burwood or Waurn Ponds. 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.