Writing Fellows Training Program
Fellows Receive Ten Hours of Paid Training Before Working with Students
The Writing Across the Curriculum program and the university Writing Center collaborate and conduct ten hours of paid training sessions with Writing Fellows before they begin working with students and instructors. After the Writing Fellows have started their work, training continues at bi-weekly staff meetings.
The initial ten hours of training cover the following topics.
Session One: Being a Tutor
We provide Fellows with a basic tutoring format and review principles of tutoring (e.g., do not become an editor, allow students to retain ownership of their work, create a welcoming environment). Some experienced tutors from the Writing Center participate in this session to offer tips, review best practices, and explain how to handle problems that can arise during tutoring.
Session Two: Helping Students Develop Content and Organize Ideas
The Fellows work together to determine how to assist students who want help with developing content and/or organizing their ideas. We discuss how to guide a student toward writing a thesis and creating an outline, especially if the student only has a prompt and doesn’t know how to begin the paper. We also ensure that the Fellows are asking questions, reviewing the prompt, and not feeding the student ideas—all important principles of tutoring, especially during sessions that focus on content.
Session Three: Explaining Grammatical Concepts
We ask the group of Fellows to complete a focused grammar exercise that covers many of the main grammatical issues they'll encounter in student writing. We then spend time verbally discussing and practicing explanations for grammatical concepts. The focus is on developing the Fellows’ pedagogical skills—the ability to explain concepts is just as important as knowing the “right answer.”
Session Four: Explaining Style Concepts
The style training session is similar to the grammar session except it focuses on stylistic concepts (e.g., nominalization, parallelism, short before long, old before new, preposition pile-ups). Again, the focus is on developing pedagogical skills.
Session Five: Working with Special Student Populations
Writing Fellows will have to become adept at working with non-traditional student populations, such as ESL students and students with disabilities. This training session focuses on working with them and ensuring that their needs are met.
Session Six: Presenting to a Class and Lesson/Activity Planning
It's likely that the Writing Fellows will, at some point, give short presentations to the students in their classes. They have to know how to plan a lesson/activity and how to then present that concept to the class. This involves creating handouts and/or PowerPoint presentations, creating activities and/or quizzes, knowing about scaffolding and modeling, and having basic presentation skills. This training session focuses on these presentation concepts.
Sessions Seven and Eight: Writing in the Disciplines
Writing Fellows work with students in a variety of disciplines, and these two sessions introduce Fellows to the many different ways that disciplines do research, make arguments, and share new knowledge with various audiences. Fellows learn the principles of genre analysis in these sessions, and they learn how to work with students as they write in the specialized forms of their own disciplines.
Sessions Nine and Ten: Role-Playing and Mock Tutoring Sessions
This step is where the Writing Fellows put together all the skills they learned in the previous training sessions. They have to demonstrate that they can conduct actual tutoring sessions—some focusing on content and some focusing on grammar. The Fellows receive written feedback about their strengths and weaknesses based on their role-playing performances.