handbook: faqs and appendices


Q: What about the money?
A: You will receive a $1,000 honorarium for the first semester you are a Writing Fellow. In subsequent semesters, you will receive $1,100. Because these stipends are not part of the university’s payroll, it’s hard to predict exactly when they will arrive. Emily will try to time it so that new Fellows receive checks for $500 around Week 6 and the other $500 in the last week of the semester; experienced Fellows will receive $550 in each installment.

Q: What happens in the spring semester?
A: You are automatically re-appointed as a Writing Fellow unless you are having serious problems fulfilling your fellowing duties. If you are having difficulties, you should talk to Emily, Cydney, or Brad, who would be happy to discuss your options and provide some extra help. Fellows who are simply not meeting their responsibilities may be asked to leave the program.

Although you will no longer meet twice weekly as you did in English 316, you will participate in ongoing education sessions (OGEs).

Q: What if I have a potential conflict of interest with one of the students I’m assigned to tutor?
A: This is not a common problem, but if you discover that you are assigned to work with your roommate, your best friend, your worst enemy, or some other person with whom you have a personal history that could interfere with your ability to serve as a Writing Fellow, bring your concern to Emily or Cydney immediately. We’ll work something out.

Q: What if I’m having a problem with the professor I’m working with?
A: Most importantly, make sure that you are communicating frequently with your professor to ensure that misunderstandings do not occur. If a problem does occur, contact Emily or Cydney right away so we can help you figure out a solution. Also, be sure to keep your co-Fellow(s) in the loop if something’s amiss.

Q: What if I have a family emergency or become ill?
A: Please contact Emily or Cydney and your course professor immediately so we can make sure your responsibilities are covered while you are away or out of commission.


What is the Writing Fellows Program?

The Writing Fellows Program trains undergraduates to serve as peer tutors in writing-intensive and Communication-B courses across the curriculum. These tutors, called Writing Fellows, are chosen for their excellent writing skills, their interest in learning more about writing, and their commitment to helping their peers.

If you’re reading this, your professor has decided to use a Writing Fellow in this course. [You can personalize this: Professor X has decided to use Writing Fellows in XYZ this semester.] This means that everyone in your class will consult with a Writing Fellow on two papers this semester.

Fellows are not teaching assistants; we do not make assignments or grade papers. Instead, we write comments on drafts and hold one-on-one conferences to discuss your work in progress, offering suggestions for revision before your papers are submitted for a grade. To prepare to help you, all Writing Fellows take a special three-credit seminar on tutoring writing across the curriculum.

This program is premised on the belief that all writers — no matter how accomplished — benefit from revising their work. Thus it is designed to help writers of all levels, and not only those who need extra help. Please be sure to take advantage of it! Learning to write effectively is perhaps the most practical skill you can acquire in college. The Writing Fellows program offers you a unique opportunity to hone your writing skills by collaborating with a peer. As peers, Fellows act as sympathetic readers and advisors, providing informed, constructive criticism.

How will you work with the Writing Fellows program?

Each student in your class [you can insert class here] will be assigned a Writing Fellow. You will submit your papers to your Writing Fellow before handing them in to the professor. (Don’t worry: time is added to the syllabus to accommodate this process.)

Your Writing Fellow will take a week to make extensive written comments on your draft. During the week after your draft is returned to you, you will meet individually with your Writing Fellow and revise your paper, before handing in both versions (the one with the Fellow’s comments and the revision) to the professor. Individual conferences with your Writing Fellow are especially valuable times to ask questions and discuss your writing process in detail.

As you revise, you may accept or reject your Fellow’s specific suggestions. Since participation in the program is mandatory, however, you must submit both drafts of your paper for the assignment to be considered complete.

Due dates for papers

Paper #1 [insert title or short description of paper]
Full draft due to your Writing Fellow on [insert date in bold].
Conference with your Writing Fellow [insert week/time frame of your choice].
Revised draft AND original draft with my comments due for grading on [insert date in bold].

Paper #2 [insert title or short description of paper]
Full draft due to your Writing Fellow on [insert date in bold].
Conference with your Writing Fellow [insert week/time frame of your choice].
Revised draft AND original draft with my comments due for grading on [insert date in bold].

Before you turn in your draft to your Writing Fellow . . .

  • Write your name AND your Fellow’s name on your draft.
  • Type and double-space your paper, using at least one-inch margins.
  • Number the pages in the upper right-hand corner.

Writing Fellow(s) for [insert class here]
Name: [add name]
Contact Information: [add contact information]

What do I do if I have questions about the program?

If you have questions, feel free to contact Emily Hall, associate director of the program, at ebhall@facstaff.wisc.edu or 263 – 3754, or Cydney Alexis, the assistant director, at cydneyalexis@gmail.com or 263 – 2946.

Sample info sheet

Sample cover sheet

Your name:

Title of paper:

What do you like most about this draft?

What did you find most difficult about writing this assignment?

List some aspects of this draft to which you would like me to pay special attention when I comment on your paper.

Anything else you need me to know?

Sample end comments (Example 1: geography paper)

Dear Susan:

I think you’ve done a good job of capturing the essence of each researcher’s beliefs/conclusions. You’ve also chosen a very straightforward organization that makes the dialogue component of this assignment very clear.

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider as you revise your paper:

  • Assignment and balance: I would suggest devoting more space to Parker and Posey’s response to the Redford article, instead of just focusing on your summary of Parker and Poseys’ academic positions. Professor Naughton clearly articulated her desire for you to consider carefully how both Parker and Posey would react to Redford’s piece. For example, I can’t tell from your paper whether you think Parker and Posey hold the same academic position or would respond differently to Redford’s article. Would Parker and Posey have mixed reactions? Is there anything else about the Redford article that is important to note? Can you offer more analysis of Reford’s ideas, instead of summarizing them?
  • Paragraph structure: It’s important that each paragraph of your paper be structured as well as the paper itself. I’ve noted several instances where a paragraph seems to contain a number of ideas that don’t come together as one cohesive thought (p. 2, par. 3; p. 3, par. 1). Topic sentences are useful in academic papers; you’ve used them effectively in several instances, which I’ve noted. For example, the second paragraph on p. 4: I know from your topic sentence that this paragraph is about the writer’s credibility as a researcher, and I read the rest of the paragraph to find out more about that topic. I encourage you to read through your paper and see where you can revise topic sentences so that they are strong throughout.

I’ve also noted some grammatical issues that are not too prevalent but probably worthy of minute or two’s attention during the conference. Please ask me about any comments that you don’t understand or need help with.

See you in conference!

Sample end comments (Example 2: Philosophy paper)

Dear ,

I enjoyed reading your explanation of the complexities that arise when the propensity to evil is seen as “sometimes innate.” You treat the subject in a very accessible yet scholarly tone, which makes it easy for me as a reader to follow the line of your argument without becoming hindered by the language. Also, you have done a nice job incorporating quotations into the material — doing so helps me to understand more precisely how Kant thinks so that I can compare it with what you say.

Here are some things for you to consider as you revise your paper:

  • Scope. You mention that you are concerned with the amount of material you cover in such a small space. It certainly is all very interesting; however, considering the page limit of the assignment, I think that you are correct to say that it may need to be constrained. How might you condense the material in the first part of the paper (approximately through paragraph 5), while still constructing a complete explanation of propensity to evil and its implications? I think that doing this will focus your argument so that you are not trying to do too many things at once. There were times when in first half of the paper (the analysis of the propensity to evil) when I was not sure how this explanation was relevant, considering that you ultimately show propensity to be flawed.
  • Quotations. There are certain places where you use quite a few direct quotations from Kant. After each one, instead of letting it speak for itself, make sure that you sufficiently explain your interpretation of this quote and how it furthers or complicates your argument. For example, paragraph 8 contains almost one quote per sentence — a lot for a paper of this length. This paragraph might benefit from paraphrase or from a short elaboration after each one. Since you seem to agree with Kant at certain points and disagree at others, your readers will benefit from your clarification of the intent with which you use each quote.
  • Topic sentences. Many of your topic sentences are already good, but there are places where they could further guide the reader in your argument’s journey. For example, instead of using a question (paragraph 9) or a re-statement of Kant’s explanations, take it one step further and explain where this idea fits within your thesis statement. y relating each topic sentence back to the thesis, and by making each one a mini-thesis for the paragraph, you will ensure that a) each paragraph plays a distinct role in your argument and b) that your reader will easily follow and (more likely) be convinced by your logic.

I look forward to meeting with you and discussing your paper further at our conference — your paper’s already got a lot going for it, so through revision it will only become even stronger. Look over your paper and bring any questions or ideas that you may have for us to talk about. See you then!

Sample Conference Sign-Up Sheet

Conference Times, Paper #1
Please sign up for one of the conference slots below and fill out a reminder slip for yourself. All conferences will be held [in the Writing Center, the Union, the library, at Steep N Brew]. They will last about 20 minutes. You can recognize me by [my red baseball cap] and I will be sitting [make it as easy for them as possible]. Please come on time!

Bring your draft with my comments to your conference. Be sure to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes re-reading your paper before the conference, so you can ask me questions about my comments and we can discuss your concerns about your paper and/or your writing in general.
Monday, Oct. 13

  • noon
  • 12:30
  • 1:00
  • 1:30

Tuesday, Oct. 14

  • 3:00
  • 3:30
  • 4:00
  • 4:30
  • 5:30

Wednesday, Oct. 15

  • 5:30 p.m.
  • 6:00
  • 7:00
  • 7:30

Thursday, Oct. 16

  • 10 a.m.
  • 10:30
  • 11:00
  • 11:30

If you absolutely cannot come to any of these times, write your name, phone number, and e-mail address below: