Advice on Best Practices for Faculty with Writing Mentors
The following best practices are suggestions from faculty who have used Writing Mentors in their classes. You’re not obliged to follow this advice; it’s just meant to let you know about experiences people have had in the past. We hope that you will add your ideas to this document as we move forward with this program.
Also, please feel free to contact faculty members who have had Writing Mentors: Tim Arner (English); Ed Cohn (History); David Cook Martin (Sociology); Karla Erickson (Sociology); Brigittine French (Anthropology); David Harrison (French); Astrid Henry (GWSS); Paul Hutchison (Education); Jean Ketter (Education); Deborah Michaels (Education); Jack Mutti (Economics); Sarah Purcell (History).
1. The Writing Mentor should attend class regularly.
This regular attendance has many benefits. First, the more familiar the students in the class are with the Mentor, the more likely they are to use the service. Second, the more familiar the Mentor is with what’s happening in the class, the better he/she is able to answer questions about the material, the assignments, or the discussion. Third, by attending the class, the Writing Mentor may provide the faculty member with insight into student reactions to what’s happening in class and to assignments.
2. The Writing Mentor should be introduced to the class.
Mentors can introduce themselves to the class formally or informally during class sessions.
3. The Writing Mentor may model respectful and productive class participation.
While Mentors are typically not taking the course for credit, they can model how to ask questions and how to respond to others’ comments.
4. The Writing Mentor may give the faculty member feedback on assignments.
Mentors can give insight into how a student may read your assignment, and that consultation can save you and your students much time and difficulty.
5. The Writing Mentor may meet one-on-one with students in the course.
This has been the most common and most valuable way that Writing Mentors have functioned. Typically, they hold office hours in the evening or on weekends, and work with students on any phase of the writing process. During the class, some mentors pass around sign-up sheets for their office hours.
6. The Writing Mentor may run peer review workshops or meet with groups or individuals preparing oral presentations.
Since the Mentors study ways of encouraging good peer review in their WRT 295 class, the faculty member can have them put their knowledge to work either during class or outside of class. Writing Mentors have also worked with groups planning oral presentations.
7. The Writing Mentor may offer written comments on a set of papers or an assignment such as an annotated bibliography.
While Writing Mentors are not graders and should not be privy to grades students receive, they may, with permission of the student writer, demonstrate how they as readers would respond to that student’s paper. Such a demonstration, especially early in the semester, can establish credibility for the Mentor.
However, since encouraging conversation about writing is a major goal of the Writing Mentor program, faculty members and mentors should encourage face-to-face interaction between the Mentor and the student. Thus it may not be best practice to encourage students to email their papers or parts of them to the Mentor; rather, students should be encouraged to meet with the Mentor.
8. The Writing Mentor may facilitate small-group discussions during class.
Especially in large classes, Mentors may facilitate a discussion group so that more students get to talk.