Writing Fellows cultivate writing skills in tutees

Joliette Re/ Contributing Writer

University students spend a relatively small amount of time writing at the college level— at least that is what a recent survey at the University suggests, according to Paula Gillespie, the director of the Center for Excellence in Writing.

In an effort to cultivate better writing skills among students, the Writing Fellows Program was initiated in the spring of 2012.

Charles Donate, Title V director of online tutoring for the Center for Excellence in Writing and the Writing Fellows Program, said the program is “an outreach center.”

The program is designed to cross disciplines— meaning that a tutor could be a journalism major and tutor a student in architecture.

“Actually, most of the students we work with are outside of the English Department,” Jennifer Gonzalez, a writing fellow and a tutor at the Center for Excellence in Writing said about her experience working with her group, which consisted of architecture students.

The tutors are assigned a group of 10 to 12 students; they will tutor a group of students in one-on-one sessions twice during the span of the semester. The tutor and students coordinate a meeting day and time via email.

In the beginning of a semester, a fellow works on a project with each member of the group and helps them with a second, more detailed assignment at the end of the semester.

However, fellows are not usually assigned with people of the same major because “that defeats the purpose” of the program, Donate stated.

A fellow must meet with each student twice a semester outside of the Writing Center because of the tutoring already going on and the amount of students passing through the Writing Center.

Although the writing fellows are tutors, Gillespie explained the difference between a fellow and a tutor at the Writing Center.

“There is a huge difference in that the writing fellows already know the assignments, they know the requirements of the assignments and they know the professor. In the writing center, a student walks in the door and everyone works on different assignments.”

The application process for the Writing Fellows Program is similar to the application process for the Center for Excellence in Writing. The applicants for each must enroll in a course that is designed to train aspiring tutors to the appropriate program: ENC 3491 is for the students who would like to tutor at the Writing Center and ENC 3492 is for the students who want to be a tutor for the Writing Fellows Program.

However, to apply as a writing fellow, applicants must submit a piece of academic or journalistic writing— not a creative writing piece. Applicants must also submit a recommendation letter from a professor to be emailed to Gilllespie from a University email account.

Jennifer Gonzalez, a writing fellow and a tutor at the Center for Excellence in Writing shared her experience when she worked with her group of architecture students.

“I like the opportunity to work with students who are outside the English Department and working on assignments that were a different subject matter I was not familiar with…It was interesting getting to work with them and getting their take on things.”

According to Donate, the writing fellows who have completed the course and wish to return again do not need to retake the writing fellows course.

“Nevertheless, you’ll be assigned another 10-12 students…so we have, I think, 11 fellows that are returning this semester who won’t have to take the course again,” Donate said.

The tutors receive a stipend of $1200 a semester.

The Writing Center for Excellence in Writing is funded by the United States Government, under the Title V Grant.

Gillespie and Donate wish to see the growth of the program for online classes, but additional funding will be required for the program’s expansion.

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