CSTW Writing Associates Support Faculty Teaching
The Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing (CSTW) has—since 2011—placed writing associates (WAs) in over 70 classes at Ohio State University, including courses in Art Education, Psychology, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Research in writing studies (Hall and Hughes 2008, Corbett 2015) shows that this kind of in-class support can both positively impact students’ subject area learning and disciplinary writing conventions and help instructors develop more effective classroom strategies for writing.
Writing Associates (WAs), are well-trained undergraduate tutors embedded into courses to offer writing-related support through a variety of means. Whether WAs are helping instructors to adapt their writing pedagogy, find solutions to common challenges faced by student-writers, or determine how assignments are understood by students, collaboration is key and at the heart of a WA/instructor partnership.
One such collaboration in Spring 2018 took place between Dr. Amy Shuster and Cat Dotson, an OSU junior and WA. Cat served as a WA in Dr. Shuster’s Philosophy 2400 course. When meeting early in the semester, Dr. Shuster and Cat pinpointed several key issues that had often emerged in students’ papers the previous times Dr. Shuster had taught the course. For instance, because many students were new to philosophy, they struggled both to integrate complex philosophical concepts into their papers and to follow philosophy writing conventions.
Dr. Shuster and Cat responded to these issues in several ways. As a WA, Cat read over drafts of student writing, looking for trends of success or struggle. She met regularly with Dr. Shuster to discuss these trends, as well as how she and Dr. Shuster might respond to them. Cat would sometimes observe students as they worked in small groups in class to identify points of confusion. Cat also provided tutorials to students, providing feedback on their papers before they submitted them.
This collaboration, however, is just one of many. Each collaboration is unique, shaped by the individual WAs, instructors, and student-writers. But all WAs, Cat urges, should aim to bridge the gap between instructor and student, helping to facilitate more effective communication between them. In this way, WAs contribute to a more productive experience for both instructors and students.
Apply for a WA today to join your Autumn Semester course. Applications are due May 7, 2018: https://go.osu.edu/wa4AU18
Since 2005, Christopher Manion has been the coordinator for the Writing Across the Curriculum program at the Ohio State University’s Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing. He also coordinates the Writing Associates program, which pairs undergraduate writing tutors with instructors teaching writing intensive courses to facilitate new approaches to writing instruction.