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Undergraduate Writing Programme

The Undergraduate Writing Programme was originally designed to offer one flagship course, Introduction to Critical Thinking, to all Ashoka undergraduates. In the past five years, the programme has evolved a robust, interdisciplinary practice that trains students to articulate their ideas. Our goal is to produce confident, mature communicators, who are at ease writing a research paper, reading an op-ed, or reciting spoken word poetry. We are mindful of student diversity in our classrooms, and ensure that non-native English speakers also find, and claim, their voices.

Over the past five years, the UWP has offered a range of writing courses that cater to a varied incoming student cohort:

  • Introduction to Critical Thinking (ICT), our principal offering, which students must complete in their first year 
  • Advanced Academic Writing (AAW), an elective sequel to ICT, which further develops writing and research skills
  • ELT Tutorials, which are capped at 5 students each, and are an immersion critical thinking course for non-native English speakers 

Our instructors, who come from different disciplines, have also taught Critical Thinking Seminars in other departments, such as Sociology, Environmental Science, and Creative Writing.

The Peer Tutor Program

The Peer Tutor Program under UWP comprises students from 3rd and 4th year UG batches at Ashoka. The members of the program are selected each year through a rigorous application process, for their ability to give astute constructive feedback with compassion and patience. PTs are an integral part of UWP’s collaborative and decentralised pedagogical framework – they function simultaneously as senior mentors to 1st year ICT students and assistants to ICT Instructors.  As a result, PTs bring a unique perspective to ICT classes while helping students sift through ideas for projects, write and revise drafts, and prepare for academic presentations. Their presence highlights the value UWP places on peer-learning and individually customised feedback in the process of engaging with critical thinking.

Testimonials from 2020-21 PTs:

There have been many challenges in my two-year stint as a Peer-Tutor: many awkward silences, missed emails, early morning classes, and a shift to online learning, prompting battles with the most tiring and unreliable internet connections. However, working with the most courageous and joyful instructors and peers has also made the peer tutoring program one of the most enriching experiences I have had at university. I believe that this experience has seeded in me an absolute admiration for the act of pedagogy. It has taught me the joy of guiding someone through the betterment of their work, of helping someone argue strongly or to follow a curiosity. In the most stressful of weeks it has taught me the joy there is in laughing together with a classroom. And through these interactions, I have learnt to humble myself, and ever improve on how I engage with the people and ideas around me.
-Ayush Shah, PT Coordinator


Being a Peer Tutor in my 3rd and 4th years at Ashoka was a fabulous experience. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020 onwards, each semester was vastly different from the next. Aiding the instructor in adapting syllabi around the constraints and opportunities of the online set-up was certainly a challenge — it also meant devoting more time to working with the students, and especially first years who were beginning university life online, but also acted as lessons in flexibility and empathy. Additionally, that ICT is a mandatory foundation course for all first-year students meant that I would be dealing with papers tackling myriad, possibly unfamiliar themes, which was daunting. However, with time, I learned mechanisms of universal feedback and editing, which otherwise would not have been possible in my major courses which are thematically similar. Finally, as one of three Peer Tutor Coordinators in my 4th year, I had the opportunity to manage team-meetings, and rework some of the policies of the Peer Tutor program owing to Covid-driven circumstances, which was also an incredible exercise in leadership and teamwork. Overall, being a Peer Tutor was an extremely rewarding experience that helped hone many of my own skills, and I genuinely enjoyed being part of an academic support network for students just entering into university!
-Teesta Rawal, PT Coordinator


it was a lot of fun
-Sreya Majumder, PT Coordinator


I think this was my first ever teaching experience and it was worthwhile only because of the amazing instructors and the amount of flexibility that was given to us in terms of organising our own classes! Thank you for the experience! 
-Prerna Vij


My time as a Peer-Tutor was incredibly rewarding, and went above and beyond anything I would’ve expected it to be. The students were each hardworking and constantly trying to improve in their own ways, and I was really happy seeing them grow over the course of the semester as they found their voices in academic writing.

I learned so much, with each doubt that was asked, each assignment I helped them ideate for, and even from the class that I took. I was forced to confront some of my own biases towards academic writing, and question why certain things should be the way that they are.

To Keshav, I have nothing but gratitude for being extremely helpful and inclusive, making sure to keep me in the loop no matter what. I think, seeing the same readings that I had read two years ago and watching a new set of students grapple with them in ways far more interesting than I had was both strangely nostalgic and also very instructive. The enthusiasm that the students showed in making their creative presentations was infectious, and a nice change from the gloom and doom that seemed to surround the everyday during this pandemic.

Above all, I’m grateful that I was able to, in some way, help all these students, just as my peer tutor Sanya did for me. In many ways, it was the best part of an otherwise monotonous semester.
-Naren Varadarajan


I think that the way in which the people I worked with — whether it was an instructor or a student — trusted me, personally and intellectually, was unprecedented and really rewarding. I have been so conscious of the fact that my two semesters in the peer-tutoring program have helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. Being a peer-tutor has done more for my learning process at Ashoka than many of its best courses have.
-Astala Yalnaz


In trying to help the students I had to keep recalling the confusions and difficulties that I had faced with academic writing initially. It was really rewarding helping someone else through those same challenges now. I saw my own value as a peer tutor in being able to understand their doubts better since I had been in their shoes not too long ago.
-Faguni Singh


I think applying for the Peer Tutor program was one of the best decisions that I ever took. I have truly enjoyed attending classes, holding meetings and discussing different topics with the students. Moreover, I have learnt a lot from my brilliant ICT instructor- Krittika, whose humour, encouragement, guidance and patience all contributed in making my entire journey as a peer tutor memorable. These last two semesters have been exceedingly rewarding and I take away only good memories from my experience as a Peer Tutor.
-Vedika Puri


It was unexpected but very rewarding to witness how the ICT classes actually helped create bonds between students even during a semester that was completely online. The PT program in particular was extremely valuable especially during the pandemic, I feel, because it provided an additional support structure to first years who were even more apprehensive and unsure of themselves than usual. I interacted with many students who used office hours as an opportunity not only to clear doubts regarding the course but also to help with general writing apprehensions. As the interactions were more informal than a student-professor one, it allowed them to be more candid with their concerns. As a student myself, I found the PT program very rewarding not only because I could help first years but also because I learnt so much myself. The course content was very engaging and worth learning, the opportunity to conduct class was quite valuable, and all my interactions with the professor I was working with were very interesting and always left me with a lot of new knowledge gained!
-Ananya Rao


I had a lovely experience being a Peer Tutor. I’ve learnt so much from interacting with two diverse groups of students as well as figuring out how to best cater to their individual needs and help them make the most of the course in their unique ways. It has been challenging, fun and deeply rewarding. I’ve developed my own skills in the process and come out a better writer and helper myself, having seen how supportive my team was and how engaged the tutoring kept me. It made the pandemic a lot more bearable, and for that I am glad.
-Deepti Jayakrishnan


Being a Peer-Tutor was such a rewarding experience. There was a lot of learning through introspection involved in the teaching process. I realised that there really is no ‘best’ way to write, of course, and that the many unique means of expression my peers have can be explored in many ways. My professor was also amazing and our rapport only improved over time. I learnt a lot from her as well!
-Vibha Ramprakash


It was great! It’s always a pleasure to interact with first years— a reminder of how far I have come; and generally how much the Ashokan experience can change you. I wish I could have been healthier and contributed more, but well! Thank you Akshita and Shamini 🙂
-Srija U.


It was great! I learnt so much, and was exposed to all of these exciting new ideas and ways of thinking. I do think I could have contributed more than I did, but I had an amazing time!
-Himadri Agarwal


The peer tutor program proved to be extremely fulfilling for me. I was not only given the opportunity to support the students in their processes of research and writing, but was also tasked with conducting sessions on methodologies, academic writing, and critical analysis. Throughout this process, I found myself learning extensively about what goes behind curating classes that promote critical thinking; about academic research, as well as writing well-argued pieces.
-Arpita Wadhwa


My experience as a peer tutor was everything I’d hoped it would be. I got to help students, gain confidence in my own skills, and develop meaningful relationships during an online semester (a feat which seemed, at one point, unachievable).
-Svasti Dutta


Being a peer tutor allowed me to take my experiences as an overly caffeinated first year and channel them into conversations/interactions with the students in my course. I learnt so much over the course of the year – including that both Chetan Bhagat and Twinkle Khanna are good writers, and that the origin of civilisations could have been burial grounds. Despite the obstacle that was online classes, the interactions I had with students during class and office hours kept up the spirits. We talked about Elephant Psychology and Feynman’s Law, and I’d answer questions about dhaba food and winters on campus. I’m grateful to have gotten to spend the last year contributing to the course, working on something I felt deeply invested in.
-Wynnona Fernandes


Being a peer tutor helped me critically reflect about my own writing and writing process in ways that I hadn’t done before. Reading the works of other budding writers who hadn’t necessarily been trained in academic writing exposed me to new ways of thinking about structuring and organising different kinds of pieces. All in all, the peer tutorship taught me new and innovative ways of thinking about and teaching writing.
-Samriddhi Agrawal

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka