ENGL 214: Theory & Practice of Tutoring Writing

Fall 2013

Maya SanyalAssistant Director of the Writing Center

Email: msanyal@drew.edu

Office: Drew Writing Center & BC 109

Office Phone: 973.805.8834

Office Hours:


Sandra JamiesonDirector of Writing Across the Curriculum

Email: sjamieso@drew.edu

Office: Sitterly 306

Office Phone: 973.408.3499

Office Hours: Mon. & Tues. 2:00-4:00 & by apt.



Class Meets: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11:50 -1:05
Location: Seminary 215
Practicum: Writing Center (20 hours)
Click here for daily Schedule

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the theory and practice of peer-to-peer writing tutoring focusing on the work of the Writing Center and Writing Fellows. You will discover that consulting in the writing center or being a writing fellow for a particular class involves much more than just “looking over” someone’s paper. Peer-to-peer writing consulting has a rich theoretical base drawing on composition studies, education, psychology, and learning theory to inform its pedagogy. Writing consultants or fellows do not need to be writing experts per se, but they do need to understand the writing process as well as the dynamics of the tutoring relationship.

The readings in this course cover the history, theory, and practice of Writing Studies, including composition theory, writing center theory, and ideas about collaboration and the social nature of writing. The course is highly interactive, calling on students to help construct the direction of class discussions and activities. Because this course is about experiences—writing consultations—field work is required. Students who successfully complete this course will be invited to apply for work in the writing center and/or as a writing fellow.

This course is a Writing Intensive course (WI).

Required Texts

Gillespie, Paula and Neal Lerner. The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring 2/e. New York: Pearson Longman. 2007.  [Available from the Drew bookstore]

Readings Packet [Available from the English Dept, some of it is also on Moodle]

Additional readings on Moodle


By the end of this course, you will be able to

  • reflect on your own work as a writer
  • explain the role of writing tutors and fellows as part of the student writing process
  • articulate the basic philosophical principles of contemporary writing centers
  • place peer-to-peer writing tutoring within the context of the field of Writing Studies
  • conduct both group and one-on-one writing consultations
  • create a session plan
  • design and implement mini-lessons for classroom presentations
  • work with a course instructor to facilitate writing groups

English Department Outcomes Achieved in this course

Depth: Student demonstrates depth of understanding in at least one area of the field.

Writing: Student writes clearly and flexibly in terms appropriate to the discipline, is able to use writing as a tool for thinking about literature, and reflects on own writing process.

Information Literacy. Student makes use of a range of disciplinary research tools, can find and evaluate sources appropriate to subject of study

Integration. Student is able to integrate several of the above skills and deploy them simultaneously in a paper.

General Education Competencies Satisfied by this course: Writing Intensive (WI)

In increasingly sophisticated ways, each writing class:

  • engages students in written scholarly discourse
  • emphasizes analytical and creative thinking and critical reading
  • introduces students to appropriate uses of academic and non-academic information
  • uses writing as the primary basis for classroom learning
  • focuses on the writing process
  • develops each student’s writing skills by both building on strengths and strengthening weaknesses.


Academic Accommodations: Should you require academic accommodations, you must file a request with the Office of Disability Services (BC 119B, extension 3962, anambiar@drew.edu). It is your responsibility to self-identify with the Office of Disability Services and to provide faculty with the appropriate documentation from that office at least one week prior to any request for specific course accommodations.  There are no retroactive accommodations. The deadline to request Letters of Accommodations for all students currently registered with the Office of Disability Services is 09/10/2013.

Academic Integrity:  All students are required to uphold the highest academic standards. Any case of academic dishonesty will be dealt with according to the guidelines and procedures outlined in Drew University’s “Standards of Academic Integrity: Guidelines and Procedures.” A copy of this document can be accessed on the CLA Dean’s U-KNOW space by clicking on “Academic Integrity Standards”: https://uknow.drew.edu/confluence/display/Handbook/Academic+Integrity. If you are not yet familiar with this policy please review it before you write anything else!

Human Rights:  Please also familiarize yourselves with Drew’s Human Rights Policy and help to create a civil civic society at Drew. If you feel that anything anyone says or does in this class (including the instructors) violates this policy please speak to one of us, or to the chair of the English department. We all have a moral responsibility as well as a legal obligation to uphold and work to strengthen everyone’s human rights at Drew and beyond. This is particularly important when dealing with student writing.  You can find the policy at http://www.drew.edu/humanrights/policy-procedures


A discussion-based course is only as strong as its laziest member, so it is essential that each member of the class accepts his or her responsibility to the other members. Thus:

1) PREPARATION & PARTICIPATION: You will be expected to attend every class prepared to participate and share your ideas and writing with your peers. If you are unprepared, the class will not work, your peers will suffer, and you will be marked as absent. Students who are physically present but mentally absent (distracted by social media, sleeping, doing homework for another class, etc.) will be marked as absent. More than two unexplained absences will result in your final grade being lowered by one letter.

Participation includes completing the homework, contributing to discussion, actively listening, paying attention, and participating.  Participation also includes completing your 20 hours of tutoring for the semester. Not doing completing 20 hours of tutoring will result in a lowered participation grade. It is possible to receive a zero for participation.

2) RESPECT FOR SELF & OTHERS: You must respect your fellow writers. This means that you must take them and their ideas and writing seriously and comment constructively with sensitivity to their feelings. Failure to do this will result in a collapse of the trust necessary for a writing course and you will be asked to leave (and marked as absent). Lack of respect ranges from discriminating comments (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc.–see the Human Rights Policy link above), to yawns, the pulling of faces, drumming fingers, laughter, asides to other members of the seminar, and so on. If anyone violates any Drew policies I will have no choice but to report them in addition to asking them to leave class.

3) WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US: As your instructors we are bound by the rules of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act FERPA. We are not permitted to discuss your work, grades, or progress with anyone other than the Dean unless you authorize us to do so. We are not permitted to share your work without your permission, to use it in other classes, or to in any way violate your intellectual property rights. It is our responsibility to treat you with respect, to ensure that other class members also treat you with respect, and to do all that we can to create a safe space for learning within our classroom.

It is also our responsibility to develop a syllabus that is both intellectually challenging and relevant to the level and content of the course; to meet with you outside of class in regularly scheduled office hours to discuss any aspects of the course or your work; to answer questions and address concerns within a reasonable amount of time via email or in person; to arrive to class on time, prepared, and ready to teach and to let you know if class must be cancelled; to provide thoughtful and timely comments on your work; and to assess and grade your contributions to the course objectively and fairly. In other words, we hold ourselves to the same standards of excellence we expect from you.


Presentations and in-class teaching

This is a class geared toward training students to be Writing Tutors and Writing Fellows, which means you inhabit the role of educators, and are not simply consumers of content knowledge.  The class is designed to expose students to theory and practice of tutoring. Thus, students will be asked to teach (and not just present) material in class. Class sessions will be a combination of students teaching each reading, discussion, and sometimes brief writing assignment. To ensure that students are able to make the best use of the practical training aspect of the course, you are expected to come having read the assigned readings for each class. 

Literacy Narrative (5-7 pages)

An exploration of your relationship to reading and writing (includes all drafts and visits to the writing center). More detailed instructions discussed in class and posted on Moodle

Final Project  

Students will contribute two short videos to the Writing Fellow’s Online Writing Guide on a writing issue of their choice (using Camtasia) and prepare two brief handout on those writing issues suitable for inclusion on the Writing Studies website for other Drew students to download and use. Students will present their project to their peers for feedback and revise accordingly. (More detailed instructions discussed in class and posted on Moodle.)

Final Paper

This paper will place the final project into the theoretical framework provided by the readings in the course. More detailed instructions discussed in class and posted on Moodle


Class participation & teaching presentations:               15%

Blogs (completion of all 9 entries + revision of 4):      40%

Literacy narrative                                                        15%

Final project + paper                                                   30%

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s