This famous song from Fiddler On The Roof has been playing in my head lately, because it seems that matchmaking has become part of my job. I am part of a team at Morehead State University working to (re)create a writing center. We had a stand-alone Writing Center at various points in the past, but there simply was not institutional support to sustain it. So this time around we are embedding the Writing Center in our existing Tutoring and Learning Center which serves our students by offering writing tutors.
One of our great challenges is the ongoing mindset, among both students and faculty, that writing is a one-time event and learning to write is a one-size-fits-all proposition. We love the Writing Studio model for writing process support, but we know this model is impractical for widespread implementation. We don’t have the funding or trained tutors to sponsor so many small groups and the number of instructors willing to give up substantial class time for studio work is limited. And so this semester we are experimenting with the embedded writing tutor, or writing fellow, model of writing support.
We are very excited about this possibility and I mean everyone. Our administrators are excited, our tutors are excited, and the instructors are excited. We see so much potential for this solution as it is much more scalable than our Writing Studio program and allows us to leverage our existing resources. The tutors are eager for the chance to work with students over time on an assignment rather than performing field surgery on the eve of an assignment due date. The instructors are hopeful that this model will improve learning and performance.
What I have found to be the most rewarding and exciting part of this work has been talking about the writing process, the needs of developing writers, and writing assignments with a wide range of faculty. We have crafted a series of interventions unique to each class and discipline intended to support students through the process of working on one specific writing assignment. The assignments are designed by the instructor to meet the student learning outcomes for that class, but I help them work out a series of interventions which will be led by a writing tutor or librarian during class time.
While our work is still in the early stages, we are very excited about the possibilities for improving the writing in these classes and impacting the development of writers throughout our campus.