In an academic setting, a “fellow” (think Oxford University, going back to the 14th century), teaches small groups of undergraduates. This fellow is an academically strong student who is awarded a fellowship to further peers’ knowledge and skills in a specific discipline. At UMBC, Writing Fellows work with faculty and students in ENGL 100. Many have experience as Writing Center tutors; most are undergraduates, but some are graduate students or recent grads. The Writing Fellow works with students four different weeks out of the semester, specifically the fourth week, seventh week, tenth week, and thirteenth week. Since all our ENGL 100 classes are twice a week, this means two classes for the Writing Fellow each of those weeks.
The task of a Writing Fellow is to work with ENGL 100 students facilitating peer review groups, and another role is helping students individually. In peer review, students typically share and discuss their work in progress, and it can be a chance for them to talk about their work with group-mates, a chance for a Writing Fellow to listen and ask questions more than talk. In some cases, the instructor may provide a peer review worksheet or one or more discussion questions to guide peer review.
In preparation for this role, new Writing Fellows attend two fifty-minute workshops focused on the skills involved in facilitating peer review. Writing Fellows may then work with up to four sections of composition each semester. Writing Fellows who are undergraduates also earn academic credit: one credit in ENGL 495 in every semester they are either preparing to begin serving as Writing Fellows or actively serving as Writing Fellows. The one-credit course includes occasional meetings with the program coordinator and the other Writing Fellows as well as an end-of-semester written self-assessment. ENGL 495 coursework is graded on a regular (letter-grade) basis.
This experience is particularly invaluable for students anticipated careers in education where providing student feedback and direction are necessary (yet learned) skills. Interested students should contact Carol Fitzpatrick, the English Department’s Director of Writing and Rhetoric, at firstname.lastname@example.org.