James Madison University's Writing Fellows Program pairs advanced undergraduate writing tutors with courses in a variety of disciplines. In these classes, writing fellows help lead writing workshops, deliver mini-lessons, hold individual student conferences, and collaborate on assignment design.
Students, instructors and writing fellows all benefit, since the Writing Fellows Program enhances teaching and learning. Writing fellows act as liaisons between professors and students but hold no grading responsibilities. Students, in particular, value the peer interaction, the increased feedback, and the unique perspective a seasoned tutor can provide. Simultaneously, the writing fellow's perspective on assignments and general course progress enriches the instructor's pedagogy. This dynamic exchange between multiple classroom authorities boosts the level of instruction.
In 2010, Lead Peer Tutor Mike Kern piloted the writing fellows program with WRTC 211: Written Argumentation, a class composed primarily of writing majors and minors. Mike participated in one class per week, acting as a peer mentor and peer educator. Through hands-on experiences in the classroom and discussions with the course instructor, he gained experience in assignment design, grading practices, and classroom management. The participating faculty member found the experience to be enlightening: she was able to create more effective assignments based on Mike's feedback, and she gained a new perspective on students' needs and interests.
Last year, three writing fellows who brought several years of tutoring and writing experience worked with classes across campus. Senior SMAD major Martin Steger served as a writing fellow in WRTC 322, a Service Learning course; Senior history major Olivia Mankowski worked with one section of GHUM 200: Capitalism, a course in the History department; and Junior WRTC major Paul Loman worked with students in GWRTC 103: Critical Reading & Writing.
During class, writing fellows draw on their own writing expertise to teach mini-lessons, facilitate workshops, and consult individually with students.
To learn more about the Writing Fellows Program or to request a writing fellow, faculty can contact Writing Fellows Coordinator Laura Schubert at email@example.com.
I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work as a writing fellow for the past three semesters. It's a unique position to hold because it pins you directly between students and instructors. As a fellow, I've learned in the classroom along with the students, tutored outside of class, taught mini-lectures about writing, collaborated with instructors on assignments, and led workshops. I know that my experience as a fellow has helped inform my desire to teach in the future.