Writing Fellows

Writing Fellows

New student applications for the Writing Fellows program will be available in March 2015. Instructors interested in getting Writing Fellows assigned to their courses should contact us at writing-center@uiowa.edu, or email Carol Severino (carol-severino@uiowa.edu) or Megan Knight (megan-knight@uiowa.edu).

Writing Fellows is a peer tutoring/writing across the curriculum initiative. Writing Fellows are undergraduate students assigned to a course to provide feedback to students on first drafts of writing assignments. Writing Fellows are honors students who have completed the Writing Theory and Practice course (143:102) taught every fall by our program directors, Carol Severino and Megan Knight. 

How the Program Works

Each Writing Fellow comments on drafts of two assignments for about 12 students in a course. The Fellow then meets individually with students to discuss the comments and how best to revise the paper to make it stronger. The goal of the Fellows Program is to emphasize the importance of feedback and revision to the writing process, so all students in the class must submit drafts of their assignments to the Fellows. A course with 36 students is typically assigned 3 fellows while a course with 24 students would be assigned 2. Because of logistical and scheduling difficulties we generally do not assign Fellows to courses with more than 40 students. Due to the limited number of Fellows available, this services is not currently available to TAs.

After the commenting and conferencing cycle, the professor reads both the first drafts and the revised essays and grades the latter. Fellows do not do any grading, they comment and tutor only. For the first semester's work, they receive an honorarium of $700. For subsequent semesters of work, they receive $800 each semester.

To be eligible to participate in the Writing Fellows program, professors must be willing to schedule two assignments that are submitted to the Fellows for commenting and conferencing two weeks before the final versions are submitted. They must also be willing to meet with their Fellows to discuss assignment goals and relationship to the course. They also meet with the Fellows during the commenting process and after the first commenting-conferencing-grading cycle to evaluate and fine tune the procedure for the second paper cycle. All Fellows have commenting mentors who are Rhetoric faculty or Writing Center staff. These look at drafts of papers and commenting letters and advise and support the Fellows.

Writing Fellows programs began in the 1980s at Brown University and has since spread to many other colleges, small and large. The goals of the Writing Fellows Program are to improve student writing and writing processes, to promote collaborative learning, and to encourage instructors to use writing to learn in their courses. Because Iowa has no required writing courses beyond first-year Rhetoric, the Writing Fellows program extends writing instruction beyond the departments of Rhetoric and English and encourages instructors in departments across the College to consider writing instruction part of their professional responsibility. Writing Fellows are assigned to professors' courses and work with all of their students on drafts of two major course papers.

Since the program began in 2003, UI professors from American Studies, Anthropology, Classics, Dance, English, Exercise Science, Geography, Geoscience, Health and Sport Studies, History, Leisure Studies, Literature, Science, & the Arts, Political Science, Religious Studies, Rhetoric, Russian, and Women's Studies have worked with Writing Fellows to help more than 2500 students improve their papers.

The program director is Carol Severino and our assistant director is Megan Knight.