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CWC offers Research Writing Workshop at CEPT, Ahmedabad

In the month of February this year, the Centre for Writing and Communication (CWC), Ashoka University, organised a two-week-long Research Writing Workshop at CEPT Ahmedabad.

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1 March, 2018 | 10 Mins read

In the month of February this year, the Centre for Writing and Communication (CWC), Ashoka University, organised a two-week-long Research Writing Workshop at CEPT Ahmedabad, upon the invitation of Professor Gauri Bharat who teaches as the Faculty of Architecture at the University. CEPT is one of India’s premiere architecture, design and planning institutions. 

The workshop was collaboratively crafted by Durba Chattaraj (Director, CWC), Ratna Menon (Associate Director, CWC) and Kanika Singh (Senior Writing Coordinator, CWC), for master’s-level students of architecture, planning and design who are required to submit a dissertation as part of their coursework. The objective of this workshop was to equip the students with the critical thinking and writing skills which would enable them to present their research most effectively in writing. Student research projects focused variously on: thermal regulators in Kerala houses; the study of transitional spaces in modern buildings; wall frescoes in Jaipur; and engaging with the notion of ‘play’ in architectural practice.

The workshop lay particular emphasis on critically reading sources focussing both on textual and visual elements (the latter constituting the bulk of the students’ research); the synthesis of sources; the development of arguments and counter arguments; writing a literature review; and ethical concerns while using sources including those of plagiarism and citation. 

Each teaching session was a combination of lecture, in-class writing exercises and discussion. Dedicated one-on-one sessions with the instructors allowed the students to discuss a specific piece of writing they wished to work on, and they received detailed feedback on their particular strengths and weaknesses. The course included writing exercises on themes which were both of general interest, and of specific research interest to the students. Ratna Menon and Kanika Singh from the CWC were the instructors for this workshop.

Students who participated in the workshop gave overwhelmingly positive feedback. In their comments they effectively presented arguments for why writing should be taught in technical institutions. One of the students said on her course evaluations, “The benefit of writing course for me was that it gave me the required thought process to work and write a research document which is very important I feel.” 

The workshop made clear to students the purpose of research — to inventively further scholarship in a field after carefully taking into account existing scholarship in the same area — while also introducing them to a methodology for putting their arguments in writing. As a student wrote, “It is much clearer now: before I thought it [research] was about collecting sources (while summarizing them) rather than a form to articulate an argument as a conversation with other voices.”

Across disciplines in India, scholars express their research in writing, but there is little formal instruction in this field. While we are the inheritors of a robust and long-standing argumentative tradition, our current system of primary and secondary education is greatly lacking when it comes to teaching students how to read critically, think critically, and write analytically. Students receive little instruction in structured writing at the high school level or at the college level. 

The CWC is committed to furthering writing education in India at all levels, and plans to offer a series of workshops to highs schools and universities across India in the coming years. We are particularly interested in collaborating with technical universities and colleges in order to help students to develop inventive ideas within their fields of study and communicate these ideas effectively through writing, as well as orally. Interested institutions should contact Dr. Durba Chattaraj, Director of Writing, at durba.chattaraj@ashoka.edu.in and Ratna Menon, Associate Director of the Centre for Writing and Communication, at ratna.menon@ashoka.edu.in

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka