Undergraduate Writing Associates (WAs) provide informed and intelligent readings of work-in-progress to help students formulate and answer difficult questions about their own writing.
WA support is not an editorial service designed to eliminate mechanical errors in writing, but rather a way of improving students’ critical reasoning and analytical skills through meaningful conversations with peers.
Each WA has proven performance in writing and is eager to help other students improve their writing. Faculty recommendations are common and highly encouraged. WAs come from many disciplines and each candidate must pass through an extensive interview process.
Once hired, a WA will work exclusively with one professor on a specified course for a full semester. Typically, responsibility is limited to 15 to 20 students. WAs also participate weekly in staff meetings, which provide strategies for peer collaboration and examine complex questions such as: What expectations about students and student writing do you bring to a conference? How can you help students without stealing their written “property”? How can you think of the apparent chaos of student writing as something other than a “deficiency”?
WAs support courses in the college’s general curriculum and in a wide variety of disciplines. In each of these courses, the WA meets with every student at least four times per semester, holding conferences approximately thirty minutes in length. WAs may also provide faculty with valuable feedback on assignment design, student progress, and evaluation of written work.
Each semester, the program employs 50-60 WAs, who work with approximately 750 students and 50 faculty members from all divisions, including engineering. More than half of the WAs support the First-Year Seminar (FYS) and Values in Science/Technology (VaST) programs, which are part of the Common Course of Study.
The WAs also run a drop-in service for students in courses not affiliated with the program.