Rhetoric and Composition
Department Chair:
Laurie McMillin

Phone: (440) 775-6601
Fax: (440) 775-8619

Rice 116
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Some (More) Suggestions for Faculty Members Working with a Writing Associate

Some (More) Suggestions for Faculty Members Working with a Writing Associate
Some (More) Suggestions for Faculty Members Working with a Writing Associate from Len Podis, founder of the Writing Associates/Peer Tutoring Program

Try to speak with your writing associate before classes begin so that each of you will be clear on approaches, expectations, etc. (For instance, what are your thoughts about the value of writing in your discipline, the nature of the writing process, the qualities of a good paper in your course, the role of grading, etc.)

Experience shows that it's best for writing associates to attend class regularly, so that they will be highly visible, aware of what's happening in class, and accessible to the students. This has proven to be very important over the years.

Generally, a major focus of the WA's work should be one-on-one meetings with tutees to discuss papers-in-progress. Usually WAs pass around sign-up sheets in class once paper topics are assigned. Also, they sometimes help to organize brainstorming sessions when papers are assigned. As the due date for papers approaches, they can facilitate small group workshopping of drafts. Both brainstorming and workshopping sessions can be held either in or out of class.

Also, during the semester it's a good idea for you and your writing associate to meet at least every other week to touch bases about how the assignments are working, how class is going, how the WA's conferences are going, whether the WA/tutor has insight into the special needs of certain students, etc.

It is usually best if you, as the faculty member, can steadily work to put your authority behind the writing associate. Even if students aren't required to see the WA in your class, they will feel more encouraged to sign up for tutorial conferences voluntarily if they believe that you put value on their working with a writing associate. One easy way to give the WA an authoritative boost is to list his or her name prominently near the top of the syllabus.

If possible, try to stress repeatedly in class the usefulness of regular conferences with the writing assocate for all members of the course (i.e., not just weak writers or those who are in trouble.) In attempting to "talk up" the value of going to see the WA/tutor, it might help to observe that professional writers and scholars (and even Oberlin faculty members) are in the habit of showing their work to knowledgeable peers who can give them useful advice on their drafts. This helps to correct any misimpressions that students might have, e.g., that meeting with a WA is a sign of weakness or an admission that they are somehow deficient or in need of remediation.