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Filling in the gaps: Engaging and supporting the development of writers at Morehead State University

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Presentation with Alvin Madden-Grider (Tutoring and Learning Center) and Morehead State University students Megan Ison (peer writer) and Kelly Reid (writing tutor) at 2013 Kentucky Engagement Conference held Nov. 6 at Eastern Kentucky University.

Abstract:

This session will focus on how the partnership between the Morehead State University Tutoring and Learning Center and the Morehead Writing Project provides supplemental writing instruction in order to break the cycle of failure caused by writing apprehension. The session will share how this partnership came into being and currently plays out on our campus from the perspective of the faculty and staff members as well as the student tutors involved in the partnership. We will share the groundwork we laid during the 2012-13 academic year and the results of our collaboration as experienced during the 2013-14 academic year.

 

Description:

Even though most Americans agree that writing is key to both academic and professional success, we are still failing to prepare our students in both areas. Large numbers of students arrive on our campus underprepared for both academic and professional writing. Not only are they unprepared, the problem is compounded by an additional concern: writing apprehension. The term writing apprehension was coined by Daly and Miller (1975) while developing their groundbreaking instrument to measure writing apprehension after they found that communication apprehension seriously affects a large proportion of the population. Writing apprehension is a collection of behaviors that include a tendency to avoid situations that involve writing, to find writing unrewarding, to fear having one’s writing evaluated, and to develop increased anxiety over having one’s writing viewed in a public forum.  A few composition classes are not enough to break the cycle of writing apprehension for many students which results in an endless cycle of failure. Students lack confidence in their ability to write and so they do not take the steps necessary to improve their writing which leads to further failure and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Without intervention the cycle will continue.

Morehead State’s solution to this cycle of struggle and failure is a two-pronged approach which offers personal support to supplement writing instruction. First, we provide one-on-one support sessions with writing tutors to offer focused, just-in-time intervention as needed by students. Second, we provide supported writing groups to offer intensive writing process intervention over time. What makes our solution unique from most programs is this complementary coverage which allows us to provide comprehensive writing support for struggling writers as well as break the cycle of failure. In addition, our supplemental writing programs have the support of a National Writing Project site. NWP is the only national professional development network focused on the teaching of writing and at MSU that work includes providing support for pre-service teachers and writing tutors as well as university faculty and staff. The Teaching and Learning Center and the Morehead Writing Project work closely together to synchronize our services to provide more comprehensive coverage of student writing needs and reach more students. We also use complementary training and support strategies. In addition, working with an NWP site has enabled us to extend our services beyond campus into our extended campus locations and K-12 schools both directly through on-site tutors and indirectly through teachers trained using NWP methods. Working together allows us to leverage existing resources in these challenging times to provide better and more comprehensive writing support services for our students.

Our session will focus on how this partnership came into being and currently plays out on our campus from the perspective of the faculty and staff members as well as the student tutors involved in the partnership. We will share the groundwork we laid during the 2012-13 academic year and the results of our collaboration as experienced during the 2013-14 academic year.

Filling.In.The.Gaps

Author:Deanna

I am a writer and a teacher of writers. I am also a fangirl for a wide range of awesome stories.