Dr Alison Farrell


‘Why write?’ Writing as Engaging Pedagogy and Empowering Process


The emergence of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) has prompted a range of

questions across higher education. Amongst these are questions associated with

assessment and written assessment in particular. This presentation will explore the

contemporary role of writing in higher education as contextualised in threshold

concepts of writing studies, recent research on assessment and current higher

education trends. It will consider writing as a thinking tool, a connection channel and

an empowering process through which we learn about ourselves, others and the

disciplines. It will make a case for the inclusion of writing as part of engaging

pedagogy and empowerment through learning. The presentation will link theory

directly with practice by providing suggestions around the enactment of the ideas

explored and facilitating the sharing of practice amongst participants.


Dr Alison Farrell has worked as Teaching Development Officer in the Centre for Teaching

and Learning, Maynooth University since 2001. In 2011 she established the University

Writing Centre. From 2016 – 2021 she was Management Chair of the European funded

COST Action ‘We ReLaTe – Advancing effective institutional models towards cohesive

teaching, learning, research and writing development’. From January 2019 to December

2021, she was seconded to Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and

Learning in Higher Education as Senior Lead for Sectoral Engagement. Within that role she

led a range of national expert and advisory groups, and acted as a facilitator on the

European University Association collaborative leadership project LOTUS.

Dr Farrell has acted as an external examiner for a number of Irish Higher Education

Institutions (HEIs), has been a programme panel review member for Irish HEIS, a

programme reviewer for Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), a reviewer for Irish and

international HE professional departments, and an expert reviewer for European projects.