English 106 courses equipped with tutors

Four embedded tutors navigate Writing Center’s pilot plan

By Hannah Dunbar

Writing Center tutors will be placed into four English 106 classes on campus this semester. A proposal submitted by Courtney Bates, Jacolyn Stephenson, Christine Denecker, and Nicole Diederich said the embedded tutors is a pilot program that will use results from this semester to recommend revision, expansion or discontinuation of the tutors. The total estimated cost is $6,312-$8,142 and creates 4-5 embedded tutor positions.

This semester, Writing Center tutors Clay Parlette, Janey Janka, Sarah Stubbs, and Britany Nault are assigned to specific English 106 course sections and serve as a peer tutor to all the students in his or her assigned class. Tutors participate in class readings and discussions and have office hours to assist 106 students through the three major academic papers taught in English 106 at UF.

“Lately the Writing Center has expanded its online tutoring, especially e-mail appointments, so we can more easily reach students who commute, have schedules crowded with employment or extracurricular activities,” said Bates, English professor and director of the Writing Center. “Since the Writing Center is already strong in these areas, it was time to expand and take on a new project.”

The University of Findlay is not the first institution to place tutors into first-level classes. Other colleges and universities have embedded tutors in their courses and the research indicates it is a highly effective tool to support student writing, according to Bates.

Janey Janka, a sophomore majoring in Adolescent/Young Adult Integrated Social Studies Education and a Writing Center tutor, is one of the four embedded Writing Center tutors this semester.

“By having a Writing Center tutor included in English 106 classes, we can build rapport with the students and make them comfortable both in asking the embedded tutors for help and in taking advantage of the services offered at the Writing Center,” said Janka.

According to Janka, having a tutor placed in an actual class is beneficial because many students are unfamiliar and intimidated by the Writing Center.

“I’ve found that many students don’t seek assistance from the Writing Center because they think its services are mainly for those who are failing a class,” said Janka. “In addition to struggling students, students who are doing well in their English classes and wish to further improve their writing skills often come to the Writing Center.”

In addition to building rapport, improving the successful completion rates in English 106 classes will improve retention. Roughly 10 percent of students in English 106 who complete the class do not successfully pass it, according to the proposal.

In order to ensure the tutors are experienced for the pilot, they are required to complete an English class as well as required training, according to Bates.

“The English 490 class is a rigorous, semester-long course and from that we’ve selected experienced tutors for the pilot,” said Bates. “They get additional training at the start of the semester and they also meet regularly throughout the semester with their English 106 instructor and me.”

According to the proposal, by embedding tutors in first-level English courses, several objectives will be met more closely. The objectives are to excel at teaching, develop the whole person through individual attention, build best-in-class strategic resources, and provide experiential learning in every program. Bates expressed that the goal is bigger than helping students get through one particular paper or English class.

“We want to help students become more experienced, confident writers in all of their classes and well after they graduate,” said Bates. “The staff at the Office of Internships and Placement frequently tells me that writing skills are sought-after by employers in all fields.”

The purpose of this pilot program is not to accomplish a short-term goal, but rather to create a long term investment into student success.

“In the long run, embedded tutoring is one aspect of creating a culture of writing, which will help students see writing as a powerful tool for creating and sharing sophisticated ideas,” said Bates.

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