The Mars Hill University WID and Writing Fellows programs are based on the conviction that the ability to write clear, persuasive, and cogent prose is at the heart of a liberal arts education. Writing is in many ways the ultimate “proof” of our understanding of any field. When we engage with a subject through the medium of writing, we have the opportunity to show our thought processes and the critical substantive thinking that has gone into clarifying what we know. Whether the field is biology or art, English or business, students who graduate with a degree from Mars Hill University will have the experience of developing well-crafted and effective prose that will help to prepare them for “the world of work” and for citizenship in the world post graduation.
The Writing Fellows Program consists of peer tutors who are trained to assist faculty across disciplines with student writing. Writing Fellows are carefully selected and professionally trained students who are responsible for responding to student texts in various writing-in-the-disciplines courses across campus. Writing Fellows work closely with the students in the class by responding to student writing and by conferencing with those students on their writing. After working with a Writing Fellow, students should be better prepared to submit revised and polished writing assignments to their professor. Additionally, Writing Fellows work closely with a faculty member by collaborating on student writing, writing assignments, and writing assessment.
Writing Fellows are expected to make a serious commitment to the program and to its goals. Each Fellow will be assigned to a class with a writing-intensive component. Fellows will work with a faculty member to become familiar with the writing requirements for the course, writing assignments, and writing goals. Working with a group of 12-15 students, each Fellow will have opportunities to read and respond, in writing, to student writing assignments. Fellows will then schedule conferences with students in order to discuss the writing assignment and the Fellow’s response to it. Fellows should expect heavy workloads twice during the semester for a two-week period each time; during these two-week periods, Fellows will need to read carefully and thoroughly all student writing assignments while providing written feedback in the form of suggestions for revision. These suggestions will range from larger questions of organization, structure, style, and tone, to “lower-order concerns” including grammar, sentence structure, and mechanics. Included in feedback will be suggestions for maintaining formats and styles required by the discipline and as identified by the professor. Peer-tutor conferences will also be scheduled, during which time Writing Fellow will go over with each student areas of concern and suggestions for revision.
Above all, Writing Fellows will talk with student writers and engage them in thinking about their ideas, the clarity with which they have expressed their ideas, and the overall effectiveness of their writing. A Fellow is an informed, interested, supportive peer who can help students with writing strategies for all required writing in the writing-intensive class.