Updates from the Peer Writing Consultant Program

Fall 2015 consultants prepare for opening

This fall, Sweetland faculty member Christine Modey became the new Faculty Director of the Peer Writing Consultant Program. In addition, Michael Zakalik joined the staff as the new Program Coordinator. The program attracts a strong pool of applicants who consistently demonstrate excellent writing skills and commitment to collaborating with others to improve their writing. This fall, having completed Writing 300: Seminar in Peer Writing Consultation, twenty-four new peer writing consultants began their work in the Angell Hall Peer Writing Center and the satellite locations across campus.

PWC-web5One key satellite is the North Campus location. Previously located in a study room on the lower level of the Duderstadt Center, the satellite has relocated to the Mujo Café, increasing its visibility to students. This “pop-up” center is open for walk-in consultations on Sundays through Wednesdays from 7 to 10 p.m.

To equip our consultants to work with diverse students and varied projects, a team of Sweetland faculty (Christine Modey, Lori Randall, Larissa Sano, Simone Sessolo, and Naomi Silver) developed a series of mini-courses this summer. These mini-courses, when approved, will address important and complex writing topics that concern our consultants: scientific writing, professional writing, working on multimodal projects, and working with multilingual writers. These courses nicely balance theory with practical application to writing and writing consultations. They have also been crafted with a broad audience in mind, so that even those who are not writing consultants but who may be education majors, scientists, or job seekers can enroll and be enriched by the subject matter. Eventually, the course content will be available in self-guided, online modules as well, for consultants who want additional training in specific topics, such as tutoring personal statements or designing scientific posters.

Christine Modey presented a paper about the development of these mini-courses and their role in consultant training at the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, in Salt Lake City on November 5-8, 2015. In addition, she and consultant Aaron Pelo presented a roundtable about an end-of-term survey they designed and piloted in Winter 2015. Consultant Allyson Wright also presented her paper, entitled “We Contain Multitudes: Postmodernism and Empathy in Writing Center Practice,” at the conference.

For several years, Sweetland and Skyline High School’s writing center have enjoyed a collaborative relationship. Jeffrey Austin, Skyline’s writing center director and a former Sweetland peer writing consultant, traveled to Pittsburgh with Modey to speak about this collaboration at the International Writing Centers Association, October 8-11, 2015. They took with them former Sweetland consultant Andy Peters (now Austin’s student teacher at Skyline) and Skyline peer tutor Ella Horwedel.

In February, Sweetland will cohost the first University of Michigan Peer Tutor Summit with the Science Learning Center and the Comprehensive Studies Program. This half-day workshop will invite peer tutors from across campus to get acquainted and to discuss tutoring, including how to conduct inclusive tutoring sessions and how to cultivate a growth mindset. We hope this will be a powerful and exciting cross-disciplinary experience for Michigan peer tutors.