Just as faculty benefit from having their peers read their work prior to publication, so too, students benefit from having their work read by their peers before it is graded. In both cases, the readers bring their experience as writers of the same sort of works–to their experience as critical readers. Peer writing tutors and First-Year Seminar Mentors can continue the conversation professors have with their students about writing. Peer Writing Tutors and Mentors do not help students with writing in place of the professor but in addition to the professor. Tutors and Mentors are trained to be the authorized help for students, to ask probing questions about the papers they read, and to make positive suggestions for improvement of those papers.
Using a Peer Writing Tutor or Mentor Assigned to Your Class
What to Expect from a Peer Writing Tutor or Mentor
Catharine Wright’s Suggestions for Her PWTS
Guidelines for Peer Writing Tutors
For Students Working in a FYS or CW class
Sessions work best
- When the tutor has a clear idea of the professor’s writing expectations for students,
- When students in the class see the sessions with the tutor as an important part of the writing process for all students in the class, and
- When the professor emphasizes the importance of those sessions by making them mandatory.
- Meet with your peer writing tutor early in the semester or before the beginning of the semester.
- Give a copy of your class syllabus to your peer writing tutor.
- Make your expectations clear to the writing tutor and to your class.
- Introduce your writing tutor to your class.
- Make at least some sessions with the writing tutor obligatory.
- Encourage your writing tutor to circulate a list of specific appointment times before meetings.
- Allow your writing tutor ample time to meet with your students.
- Stay in contact with your writing tutor through meetings, emails, and phone.
FYSE & CW Faculty Speak:
I have had the tutor in class for writing workshops and also meeting one-on-one with the students outside the class. The combination works well because the tutor knows what I am looking for, and the students trust the tutor.
I think the one-on one contact was helpful.
The interaction with the writing tutor makes [students] realize the importance of clarity and coherence . . . I discussed this with the tutor at the beginning of the semester.
The tutor was very useful as another voice to provide students with feedback . . . I also think that students were able to talk more candidly about the writing process [with the tutor].
The individual meetings got good feedback from most students.
I think that having an independent relationship between the students and the tutor works best.
The peer writing sessions enable the college writing students to have additional early feedback on an initial draft or key portion of their papers.
[The writing tutor] can both model a writing process and the importance of giving feedback on writing.