Started in 1990 by Joyce Kinkead within the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) at Utah State University, the Writing Fellows Program is modeled after a decentralized tutoring program first used at Brown University. Originally called the Rhetoric Associates Program, the program was set up to support communication across the curriculum. The program began with only thirteen undergraduates, nominated by faculty. Between the thirteen RAs, nearly 400 students were helped in improving their writing. In 2002, Julie Foust Andrew began directing the program. The program had grown to include over 20 RAs serving the College of Natural Resources (CNR) and the College of HASS. In 2003, the program was opened to all of the undergraduate colleges within the university, and since the fall of 2004, approximately 45 WFs have been employed by the program each semester, working with six of the seven colleges.
The WF Program has many benefits for everyone involved.
Each spring, undergraduate students with outstanding communication skills are selected to serve as Writing Fellows because of their skills and willingness to help other students. WFs are nominated by faculty members and other WFs. (Click here to nominate a student or here to apply to become an WF.) After an interview and selection process, these WFs enroll in a fall seminar, where they learn to interact effectively with their peers. WFs are assigned to serve as initial readers for approximately 15 students in a class. They review the students' papers and write comments on them, then hold a conference with each student to offer suggestions for improving the student's writing.
Faculty members apply to use WFs in their classes by contacting program director Julie Foust Andrew. To qualify, courses must include at least two but no more than three writing assignments. One assignment should be due before midterm and one due after. These assignments must be a required part of the course content, and students must be required to meet with WFs. WFs are responsible for commenting on organization, coherence, and style while suggesting ways to improve the text; they do not grade, edit, or comment on the accuracy of the content. Students are not required to follow the WF's suggestions. The students revise their papers, and then both versions (final and draft with comments) are submitted to the instructor for evaluation. (Click here for more information on applying to use the WF Program.)