The Center for Writing Excellence and CETL present…
The Writing Fellows program featuring Tyler Pecha and Ari Anand
What does a Writing Fellow provide to a class?
Tyler: I think it's like an informal intermediary between the professor and the students. With the Fellowship I have a little more flexibility, because I have the same content understanding that they do. So I think in essence it's good reading and writing strategies and sort of an extra person to talk to and help out with whatever you need.
Ari: It's not learning to write, it's writing to learn. So that's sort of the basic idea. And Tyler helps them do that, because since he knows what I'm trying to get people to learn and he has a sense of it, they can go to him and work on the writing, not necessarily with the aim just to improve the writing, but to practice writing, revise writing all with the view of clarifying the ideas in their own minds.
What elements make for a successful collaboration between a Writing Fellow and a faculty member?
Tyler: I think the main thing is just being honest and communicating. If I understand what Ari wants and he understands what I want, then I think it works. We basically need to understand the other person's needs. And what they're bringing to the table.
Ari: So I think there is just a fundamental sort of trust that's very comfortable. I don't at any point feel upstaged by him or feel like he's going to give advice about writing that counters my own take on how I want to run this class… But I think we seem to have really good people in the Writing Center. And part of it is recognizing your expertise is your expertise and writing isn't that. And that's the whole point of having a Writing Fellow is to bring another kind of expertise in, and just trusting that, letting that person do what that person knows what to do or how to do.
How does a Writing Fellow benefit a class of students?
Tyler: Primarily I'm there to help with the reading and the writing. And I think that there are certain things that I'm probably keyed into that other students who don't have the same background as me might not be… if you have a question and you're uncomfortable asking the professor, you can ask me. And I think that it's another advisor, another person who's kind of like a faculty member but without the same formal title so there's not that hesitancy there.
Ari: Using writing as a tool means you practice writing, and a Writing Fellow helps you practice. Because even practice is something that is good to get guidance on. I guess what I am trying to get at is that it's not just about the final product, that's not the only place where the help comes is. The help comes in learning from someone who does writing, who is interested in writing, and has thought about writing. Learning from someone like that, how to use writing to understand things, as opposed to how to use writing to get a good essay at the end, but the whole process.
Why should a tutor consider becoming a Writing Fellow?
Tyler: I think there are a lot of reasons actually, I'm really happy I did it. I think that it gives you a way to connect with new people on campus. Especially if you're doing the interdisciplinary, I guess no matter which one you do, you end up meeting people that you would not have otherwise and I think that's always good. I think it's a resume booster, and I think that you get to sort of take a class without paying for it, so I think it's a good thing all around.
As a student, what are the benefits of becoming a Writing Fellow?
Tyler: New connections on campus are a big one, for the future. I think it gives me kind of like a realistic or practical way to see how my skills can be put to use in the real world. And I think it's helped me to develop my reading and writing even more.
As a faculty member, what are the benefits of having a Writing Fellow in your class?
Ari: It gives me confidence as an instructor that I'm giving the student much better and stronger feedback. Because not only do I have my feedback for the student, but I have sort of cross-checked it with someone. I have talked to someone; they have given me insights about stuff, about how to read these essays. So when I get back to the student, it feels a little more solid, my feedback is a more solid in some sense, it has more standing.
Why should a faculty member participate in the Writing Fellows program?
Ari: I think it benefits students; it gives them someone who is devoted to writing, who is dedicated to writing, who is a practiced writer in some sense, in academic settings. It gives students someone like that to work with. It takes a lot of the weight of evaluating writing assignments, thinking about writing assignments, thinking about the process of writing, it takes some of that weight off a faculty member and puts it on somebody who is trained to take that load on… Then of course you have someone to talk to about the class, you have, I think as a faculty member more of a sense of confidence in the processes you are using to get students to learn things.
For more information about the Writing Fellows program, contact Dr. Alan Benson, Director,
The Center for Writing Excellence, 36-3145
firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-836-3290.
A special thanks to Aria Anand and Tyler Pecha for participating.
Video Production and Editing by Ellen ZamarripaBack to Top