“Creating Productive Learning: Communities: Writing Retreats” (Area 4)

Prof. Maggie Andrews, Jody Crutchley, Elspeth King, Rose Miller, Lesley Spiers and Prof. Jean Webb, (IHCA)

This panel will initially explain: the rationale and operation of the five one – day structured writing retreats run in IHCA between January and May this year. These provided time free from distractions for both undergraduate and post-graduate students to work alongside staff in completing a range of writing projects. The majority of each day was spent writing, as a group, all in the same room with set times put aside for breaks and lunch which helped to build a shared sense of community and purpose. A number of strategies were used to create an unthreatening, supportive community of writers; these included participation being voluntary, providing a nurturing environment and ensuring that all work was free from surveillance. Initial feedback on the retreats was extremely positive and was followed by more systematic online data-collection. This feedback will be discussed alongside input from both staff and students who participated in the retreats to explore why social writing can be valuable. The workshop will also invite participants to explore the possibility of building upon these writing retreats to develop further opportunities for staff and students to create productive learning communities – as both writers and researchers.

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