By Kim Moreland
Kim Moreland is the current Assistant Director of the Writing Fellows Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a Ph.D candidate in the Composition and Rhetoric program and is writing her dissertation on agency and authorship in networks. She has been teaching in the Writing Center since 2008.
In this post, I’d like congratulate my mentor and colleague, Emily Hall, Director of the Writing Fellows Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the winner of the NCPTW 2013 Ron Maxwell Award. This award is “given annually to a professional in the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing organization who has contributed with distinction to undergraduate student development through promoting collaborative learning among peer tutors in writing.” I can’t imagine a more appropriate or worthy recipient for such an award; Emily’s contributions to the field of peer tutoring are truly inspiring, and, for many of the students who have worked with her, myself included, life-changing. (For additional information about the award and to see the illustrious group of previous recipients, go here.)
“Learning originates with an undergraduate student, not with an institutional authority.”
Emily has been involved with the Writing Fellows Program at the UW since it started in 1997 and has served as its director since 1999. Her work with undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty has had a profound impact on teaching and writing throughout much of the university. The program currently has 51 active Fellows who are working with over 500 undergraduate students this semester.
The program is designed so that students and professors receive the benefits of peer tutoring, and so that undergraduate students can play a role in the teaching mission of the university. As Emily writes, “Learning originates with an undergraduate student, not with an institutional authority.” As undergraduate peer tutors, Writing Fellows are assigned to a particular course each semester. They work closely with professors and work with the students on two assignments, first giving extensive written feedback and then meeting with the students in conference. This gives Fellows a teaching role that is usually reserved for graduate students. Under Emily’s extraordinary leadership, hundreds of students as well as many professors have benefitted from collaborating with peer tutors.
The Fellows also undergo extensive training through English 316, a 3-credit honors seminar in Writing Across the Curriculum. In this course, Emily collaborates with Fellows, teaching them to be smart readers of drafts and skilled commenters. This course not only gives Fellows support and strategies for their tutoring, but it is aimed to empower them as scholars of writing and tutoring. Under Emily’s thoughtful guidance, all Fellows complete an original research project related to the tutoring of teaching and writing. These projects recognize the voices of peer tutors, shaping their own tutoring practices as well as the practices of others as they present their work to colleagues and at national conferences. Emily’s tremendous dedication to undergraduate research and her belief that peer tutors must reflect and critically examine the field of writing studies have been a crucial component of our program.