The Writing Fellows Program provides a corps of trained students to assist faculty in their classrooms by offering various forms of writing support to students enrolled in the course. Among other skills, Writing Fellows are trained to facilitate peer response groups, work one-on-one with student writers, and present mini-lessons on writing-related topics.
Many of the Writing fellows are students in the Professional Writing program. Writing Fellows are selected because of their skill in writing, grade point averages, commitment to learning, and/ or their commitment to helping others to learn. All Fellows take a 3 credit course, English 250: Peer Tutoring in Writing, where they receive training in writing theory, peer tutoring theory, and small-group work. As part of the course, each student works in a peer group helping other student writers. After successfully completing English 250, students may apply for a position as a Writing Fellow for the college. English 250 fulfills three credits toward the major in Professional Writing.
What’s it Like to be a Writing Fellow?
In addition to tutoring, writing fellows get involved in many exciting projects. Here are some of the examples:
- Writing a handbook for future writing fellows.
- Designing and printing posters and fliers to recruit future writing fellows.
- Attending a faculty meeting to discuss the various roles writing fellows can take on in and attached to classes.
- Presenting research at national and regional conferences.
- Publishing articles about writing fellow work in The Writing Lab Newsletter and The Dangling Modifier.
The 2007 Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association Conference
"Penn State Berks Superhero Makes Debut at Writing Conference," by Writing fellow Sarah Bollinger
Move over Superman, take a hike Batman, a new super hero is in town, and he made his debut at this year’s Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association (MAWCA). King Writing Fellow, or King WF for short, and his Writing League, the brainchild of this year’s Writing Fellows class, was accepted for a poster presentation at this year’s conference, held on Saturday, March 31, 2007, at Eastern University.
Although the theme of the conference was looking at writing through the eyes of Ben Franklin, who, as a crucial founder of America, was no stranger to the benefits of powerful writing, the conference focused on effective strategies for writing tutors and writing centers. Much like its fellow presenters at MAWCA, the Writing Fellows Program understands the need for strong writing in the university setting. For their final project in their class, this year’s Writing Fellows decided to create a comic book featuring the stories of a super hero by the name of King WF and his sidekicks Scribbles the Pencil and Inky the Ink Blob.
Although the comic book pokes fun at the idea of a writing super hero and evil villain, many of the situations in the comic book were what some of the Writing Fellows faced in one form or another. Some of the scenarios include what to do when writers have trouble getting started or are slow to embrace the peer group process. The comic book also emphasizes the importance of writing as a collaborative process and how writers and tutors alike can benefit from peer revision.
“Creating the comic with King WF and the Writing League gave us all a great chance to look at the problems we face in our writing groups from a new perspective, that of a superhero,” says Writing Fellow Mike Lewis.
Although their submission was one of many at this year’s MAWCA, the Writing Fellows were excited to share their superhero with others. “I am so glad that King WF [was] able to share his message with a larger audience,” says Writing Fellow Emily Edelstein.
2006-07 Writing Fellows
Back (L-R): Sarah Bollinger, Ryan Holcombe, King WF, Nicole Byrne, Mike Lewis, Kara Lamb, Steve Sims, Inky, Jason Tremblay, Emily Edelstein, Robert Wright, Jeanne Marie Rose (instructor), David Laudenslager
Front (L-R): Jessica Brenner, Scribbles, Jessica Rose, Katie Lamm
(Note: See Bollinger story above to understand the presence of King WF and Scribbles in this photo.)
The 2005 Writing Fellows Attend the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing
With the support of a Penn State University Undergraduate Research Grant, eleven Writing Fellows attended the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, held in Minneapolis, MN, last October. In addition to attending panels on peer tutoring, the Writing Fellows presented “The Tutor’s Body: Visibility, Authority, and Representation.” This three-part panel explored how aspects of peer tutors’ appearances¬-specifically, fashion, gender, and race¬-might shape their work as tutors. In particular, the Writing Fellows considered whether stereotypes and assumptions might color how their tutees perceive them: Do students prefer to work with peer tutors who wear shirts and ties or dress in sweats? Do students make assumptions about whether male or female tutors are more qualified or effective? Do racial stereotypes affect the kinds of exchange possible within peer tutoring groups? By researching and presenting on these difficult and challenging topics, Writing Fellows learned that peer tutoring involves complex social interactions. Consequently, they helped raise awareness for other peer tutors by sharing their experiences. While in Minneapolis, the group also took some time to relax at the Mall of America, enjoying the in-door roller-coaster and log flume, food court cuisine, and plenty of shopping!
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