Center for Writing and Scholarship
About the Center for Writing and Scholarship
The Center for Writing and Scholarship (CWS) views learning, teaching, writing, and research as interconnected processes that depend on inquiry, engagement, self-reflective analysis, and collaboration. As such, our mission is not only to assist CIIS students, staff, and faculty in developing the skills necessary for effective reading, writing, literacy, and communication, but more importantly to do so in ways that prioritize the unique interests, learning processes, and epistemological diversity of the individuals with whom we work. Through our programming, presentations, publications, and pedagogy seminars about writing, research, and the teaching of these skills, we hope to create spaces for dialogue and collaboration among the different constituencies on campus in order to support the continued academic and professional growth of the CIIS community.
CWS services are open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and we welcome writers of all levels of experience and interest. Our goals are to help students develop a growing awareness and understanding about how to effectively and accurately develop and communicate their ideas to an audience through writing. The complexity of accomplishing this while also ensuring that we are helping students to foster independence as scholars and writers necessitates that our approach with students be multi-layered, active, question-based, and process-oriented. In other words, students can expect to be involved participants during their consultations with the tutoring staff and professional staff. Rather than waiting for the CWS staff to "fix," "edit," "write" their paper for them or "tell" them what to do, students can expect to spend the session identifying what they would like to focus on and why, talking through their ideas, revising their papers, evaluating their own writing, and developing plans of action with the assistance of the CWS staff. We encourage students to set up appointments well in advance of due dates for their assignments so that they can work with the CWS tutoring staff multiple times, discuss their papers and ideas at different points in the writing process and particularly as their arguments change, and ensure that they allow themselves sufficient time to reassess, develop, grapple with, revise, and hone their work.
CWS offers individual 50-minute individual consultations, weekly peer writing group sections, and skill-specific workshops (see "Tutoring Staff: CWS Fellows" for more details about the weekly peer writing groups). All programming is developed and facilitated by the CWS tutoring or professional staff.
During individual consultations and the weekly peer writing groups, students may learn how to:
- Brainstorm ideas for a paper and develop possible approaches or plans for writing the paper
- Analyze and discuss course assignments in order to determine how to begin and complete the assignment
- Develop more effective and sophisticated methods for reading, questioning, and responding to texts
- Become more aware of and self-reflective about their approaches to learning, studying, writing, reading, and communicating
- Determine the audience for whom they are writing and then practice how to develop sophisticated arguments, analyze texts, set forth arguments and claims, organize and develop their ideas, assemble evidence, etc. in order to effectively communicate their arguments to that audience
- Analyze sample essays and published texts in order to identify and practice using different rhetorical discourses, styles, and forms for various academic fields and genres of writing
- Identify and locate patterns of sentence-level errors in their writing, discuss and learn the corresponding grammatical or stylistic concepts and rules with the help of grammar and style handbooks, learn how to explain the grammatical and stylistic concepts and rules, and develop strategies for locating and correcting these errors independently
- Determine how to assess, critique, and revise their ideas at different stages in the writing process
- Professionally insert themselves as scholars into established academic fields so that they can both engage with and critique established ideas and also contribute new ideas to those fields
Tutoring Staff: CWS Fellows
CWS is committed to supporting the academic and professional development of its tutoring staff through the CWS Fellows Program, a year-long program designed to prepare the next generation of college instructors to work with students on academic writing. The CWS Fellows Program provides participants with a comprehensive, year-long program of weekly pedagogical training, personal and professional development, and compensated work as a writing tutor and writing instructor in multiple contexts within the CIIS community.
Each semester, CWS fellows will have the opportunity to work directly with CIIS students and assist them with their writing in a variety of formats. During the first semester of the program, fellows primarily work with students on an individual basis each week and also facilitate larger skill-specific writing workshops for groups of students. During the second semester of the program, each fellow becomes the instructor of record for a 15-week academic writing section for 10-15 students. They are accordingly responsible for developing a syllabus, weekly lesson plans, and activities for a 3-hour/week course that introduces students to effective academic writing, reading, and literacy skills in a structured environment. The writing sections not only give students a space in which to practice applying these skills to their own papers, but also serve as an opportunity for students to become more analytical, careful readers of and responders to their colleagues' (and to their own) work.
As part of their ongoing training, CWS fellows are required to enroll in a year-long, graduate-level pedagogy course that meets for 3 hours per week and that is facilitated by the CWS professional staff. The pedagogy course, entitled "Teaching Academic Writing: Theory and Practice," introduces the fellows to current theories and approaches in the teaching of academic writing in higher education, with a particular emphasis on how to apply these theories to their work as academic writing tutors, instructors, and facilitators for the Center for Writing & Scholarship. As part of their training, fellows are asked to use their experiences as students, writers, and instructors, to test, apply, critique, and revise the pedagogy and composition theories they have studied as they develop and hone their teaching skills and practices. They are also expected to work on and reflect on their own writing, reading, and research skills for their programs of study with the assistance of the CWS professional staff. As a final component to their professional development, fellows have the option of enrolling in a research course each semester ("Research in the Teaching of Academic Writing") in which they develop a research project and write a journal-length article pertaining to the teaching of academic writing. By the end of the year, their article should be ready for submission and review at leading composition and writing center journals.
Faculty: Core and Adjunct
The task of assisting students to develop their writing, reading, research, and communication skills is a joint and collaborative effort between the students, the tutoring staff, and the core and adjunct faculty. A central part of the CWS mission is thus supporting the pedagogical practices of the CIIS core and adjunct faculty themselves, and particularly as these practices pertain to teaching academic writing, reading, and research skills. To this end, the CWS professional staff will offer regular workshops and presentations for faculty that will give them the space to reflect on, discuss, practice, reassess, and revise the techniques they use to teach and talk with students about writing. Workshop and presentation topics will ask faculty to:
- Reflect on what they expect students to know or learn about effective writing, reading, and research skills
- Analyze their course assignments, readings, lessons, activities, discussion topics, feedback on student papers, etc. in order to identify how and the extent to which they have actually built into the structure and pedagogy of their course useful opportunities and spaces for the students to learn, absorb, practice, and apply these skills and knowledge
- Determine how to assess the extent to which the students are developing, learning, and mastering these skills and how to identify the effects their (the faculty's) pedagogy, course structure, and feedback have on their students' development as writers, readers, and scholars
- Discuss and learn how to make their writing, reading, and research goals more legible and accessible to students through revising and clarifying the structure, organization, and content of their course, assignments, and feedback
- Reflect on how they and the CWS tutoring and professional staff can collaborate with each other in order to support students more effectively
- Reflect on their own writing, reading, research, and revision processes and challenges in order to determine how these processes inform the way they talk about and teach writing, reading, and research to their students