From Terry Zawacki, George Mason University

March 11th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »

Terry WAC photo

In spring 2009, undergraduates who had taken the one-credit experiential Peer Tutoring in the Disciplines course at George Mason University within the past 10 years were contacted and asked to fill out a survey asking them about what communication and community skills—academic and interpersonal—they felt they had acquired through the experience and how they were applying these skills in their lives after college. All of the respondents gave glowing reviews, with several saying the experience played a role in their being awarded prestigious graduate fellowships and entry level jobs requiring strong communication skills.  The fall 2009 WAC Program newsletter features an article about the results.

The survey project was motivated by a national research project (The Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project) undertaken to determine the significance of the tutoring experience for tutors, even after they graduate from college, leave the writing center behind, and immerse themselves in their post-graduate careers. Our survey eventually diverged from the national version, because we were most interested in learning more about whether and how our peer tutor alumni have made use of their Writing Center experiences. We wanted to learn about their career paths and whether or not their tutoring experience influenced their career choices and/or enhanced their resumes.

Though we have a small pool of alumni from which to draw (63 peer tutors and writing fellows over the past 10 years), we are encouraged by the number of responses we have received thus far. We were helped in our efforts to locate our former peer tutors by the Alumni Office, who also helped us develop our survey and accompanying letter. We plan to continue our efforts to reach our alums, from whom we have received overwhelmingly positive responses about the value of the experience to both their college lives and lives after college.

–Terry Zawacki


1 comment

  1. This looks like a great study! I am trying to do something similar, but at a smaller campus of only 1000 in a good year, so I am reading your article with enthusiasm. Our majors, like yours, go on to a diverse set of careers, heavy on academics and non-profit sector but also business, medicine, and so on. I expect that when we send out our modified results we will get similar results, and I am hoping to use them in to help demonstrate the value of the writing center in retaining highly able students. Have you found a link between your center and retention?

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