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.
Over the last three years, writing fellows have brought years of tutoring and writing experience to classes across campus. Writing fellows have supported courses in the School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication; the History department; the School of Media Arts and Design; the College of Education; the Psychology department; the department of Social Work; the General Education program; and JMU Teach.
To learn more about the Writing Fellows Program or to request a writing fellow, faculty can contact Writing Fellows Coordinator Laura Schubert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.