Writing Fellows: Information for Faculty
What is a Writing Fellow?
Writing Fellows are high-achieving, experienced (at least one year of training) Center for Writing Excellence writing assistants strategically assigned to work in writing-intensive courses. These writing intensive classes include ELL (English Language Learner) Fellows and Interdisciplinary Writing Fellows that work in upper-level (300 and above) courses. The upper-level classes vary but, in the past, have ranged from philosophy, art history, geology, literature, and psychology.
The students who serve as Writing Fellows are skilled writers who have demonstrated an enthusiasm for thinking and learning about the writing process as well as a commitment to helping their peers. They undergo a full semester of training in an upper English class and then another semester of experience in the Center for Writing Excellence in where they read recent work from composition studies, practice commenting on student drafts, conduct original research on writers and writing, and reflect on their own experiences as writers and tutors. As they write marginal and end comments on student papers, Fellows bear in mind both the general principles they learn about in their training and the specific issues to which they are directed by their supervising professor.
What Writing Fellows can / can’t do:
Both ELL and Interdisciplinary Writing Fellows support the professors’ writing instruction and the students' writing achievement by attending classes, assisting students during lectures/work time, meeting regularly with the course instructor, and holding office hours to help students with their writing assignments. Writing Fellows do not grade papers, nor do they assist in the grading process, but they offer assistance and suggestions to students during the writing process. They can help brainstorm ideas, articulate ideas, and strengthen content for students. This benefits both the students and the faculty. Fellows can also assist faculty with their own projects designated for the class (syllabi, rubrics, etc).
Professors teaching the above classes can ask to work with Writing Fellows. Fellows read the papers carefully and comment on them extensively, and then, per the student and faculty’s discretion, can meet one-on-one with each writer to discuss revision options and strategies during scheduled appointments or office hours. The student revises the paper accordingly, and hands in both the final version and the earlier draft (with the Fellow’s comments) to the professor on the final due date.
Some faculty members have informed us that working with Fellows actually saves them time during the grading process as the papers are more focused and developed. Others maintain that while they spend the same amount of time, they can concentrate more on issues of course content because Fellows have already talked with students about matters of structure and organization. Several professors have also commented that working with Fellows led them to clarify their goals and expectations for students’ written work and even to revise their own assignments. While faculty and students benefit tremendously from participation in the program, Writing Fellows themselves also gain much, including extensive editing experience, an opportunity to improve interpersonal skills, and a chance to develop as writers, speakers, and educators. The faculty and staff of the program work hard to create a warm, friendly atmosphere in which genuinely collaborative learning takes place and students respond with loyalty and hard work.