New Peer Tutoring Program in the UWP
“Even though I already had tutoring experience, I was really interested in the course because I wanted an official course in tutoring, as well as more professional experience as a peer tutor at UF.” – Valerie Melina, UWP Peer Tutor
“Peer tutoring gave me the opportunity to bask in the writing I rarely dealt in anymore and do something I definitely had never even thought of doing: teach.” – Victoria Todd, UWP Peer Tutor
ENC 4930, an undergraduate peer tutoring course launched by the UWP in Fall 2015, trains qualified undergraduates to work one-on-one with peers to improve grammar and meet the outcomes of academic assignments. During the first six weeks, students are trained in basic grammar concepts, writing structure and organization, and writing to meet the objectives of an assignment prompt. During the second six weeks, the students are assigned a workspace in the UWP where they apply their training to real-world situations by helping undergraduates, graduates, and ESL students improve their written assignments. The two-credit course, run by Dr. Martin Simpson, is departmentally controlled which means that in order to sign up for the course students need to email Dr. Simpson with a CV and then conduct a half-hour interview. During the interview, Dr. Simpson looks for a specific skillset: “an approachable, friendly demeanor; solid grammar and writing skills; good time management, and the ability to quickly triage potential weaknesses in a paper in order to focus on the most important issues first.”
Those students who perform well in ENC 4930 will have the opportunity to work as paid tutors in the University Writing Studio in future semesters. Currently, the Writing Studio employs mostly graduate students from the English and Creative Writing Departments. With the peer tutoring course, Dr. Simpson aims to “build and diversify our tutor line-up, while at the same time providing more UF students with individual tutoring, and providing our peer tutors a part-time job that lets them build both their skills and their résumés.”
Valerie Melina and Victoria Todd have both completed the peer tutoring course and currently work as undergraduate tutors in the writing studio.
Ms. Melina, an English and Communications major, has previous experience working as a freelance tutor and as a tutor at UF’s Office of Academic Support, however the additional training she received in ENC4930 helped her strengthen her editing and writing skills through “checking students’ writing for compliance to the prompt, making sure the evidence was logical, checking for proper structure, and finally proofreading for grammar mistakes.”
Ms. Todd, a Journalism major, was able to take her passion for the English language and transform it into a useful tool for others as well as a rewarding experience for herself. “I learned the integral approaches to disassembling a stranger’s essay and then giving them the guidance and confidence to piece it together again through a more structured and realized process. The training and my experience as a peer tutor have rekindled my love for English and fostered a need for continual improvement as a student, as a reader and as a tutor.”
While both Ms. Melina and Ms. Todd are pursuing language-related majors, the aim of ENC 4930 is to recruit peer tutors from diverse backgrounds. Over the four semesters that the course has been offered, peer tutors have had majors as different as Political Science, Psychology, English, and Engineering. Initially the number of students admitted to the peer tutoring course was capped at four, but for the fall semester it will be capped at twelve.
–Holly Beth Pratt