National Writing Project

Preparing Faculty, Professionalizing Fellows: Keys to Success with Undergraduate Writing Fellows in WAC

By: Bradley Hughes, Emily Hall
Publication: The WAC Journal
Date: July 17, 2012

Summary: As Undergraduate Writing Fellows and WAC Fellows programs increase in universities across America, Emily Hall and Bradley Hughes praise the many successful, mutually beneficial relationships that have formed between faculty and Fellows, while pointing out the challenges in maintaining constructive collaborations.



Within the modest but steadily growing literature about Writing Fellows, there is no shortage of publications about the philosophy informing the model and the steps involved in implementing it (Bazerman, Little, Bethel, Chavkin, Fouquette, and Garufis 110; Haring-Smith; Leahy, "When"; Mullin, Schorn, Turner, Hertz, Davidson, and Baca; Mullin and Schorn; Severino and Trachsel; Soven; Spigelman and Grobman, "Hybrid"; Zawacki). This literature demonstrates persuasively that Writing Fellows energize and enrich WAC and WID initiatives. Fellows give tangible help to faculty who are willing to do the hard work of integrating writing into their teaching in enlightened ways. The Writing Fellows model and the interaction between WFs and faculty can influence faculty attitudes and practices (Corroy; Mullin, Schorn, Turner, Hertz, Davidson, and Baca; Soven, "Curriculum-Based and WAC"). And the work that Fellows do within writing intensive classes across the disciplines offers valuable research opportunities, for Fellows and scholars alike (see, for example, Gladstein; Lutes; Mullin, Schorn, Turner, Hertz, Davidson, and Baca; O'Leary; Severino and Trachsel, "Theories"). Because of these benefits, Writing Fellows programs have now become, we would argue, essential components of comprehensive WAC programs.

At the same time, however, some of the Writing Fellows literature also makes it clear that real challenges exist, especially in finding the right faculty to work with Fellows. That's actually putting it mildly. In fact, the narratives of failed partnerships between faculty and Fellows (see, for example, Leahy; Mattison; Zawacki) can send shivers up the spines of WAC and writing center directors contemplating starting a new Fellows program. After reading widely about Writing Fellows and consulting with many directors of Fellows programs, a colleague from Lansing Community College, for example, who's currently in the process of launching a new Writing Fellows program, concluded: "Most of the significant problems I have heard about and read about did seem to involve faculty in some way—faculty 'abusing' the Writing Fellows (intentionally or unintentionally), faculty not understanding what was required of THEM in the relationship, faculty saying things to the class that were simply untrue about what the Writing Fellow could and could not do, and faculty thinking of the Writing Fellow as a teaching assistant, no matter how hard the director of the program tried to dissuade them of this notion" (Reglin). Within the Writing Fellows literature, then, there's a gap between the impressive potential that Fellows have to be agents of change in WAC and the cautionary tales from the complex realities of Fellows actually working with faculty and student-writers. Where we see most of the challenges arising is right there, where Fellows and faculty meet.

Copyright © 2011 Plymouth State University. Reprinted with permission.
Hall, Emily and Bradley Hughes. 2011. "Preparing Faculty, Professionalizing Fellows: Keys to Success with Undergraduate Writing Fellows in WAC." The WAC Journal 22: 21–40.

Read more articles from this issue of The WAC Journal.

About the Authors
Emily Hall directs the Writing Fellows program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Bradley Hughes is director of Writing Across the Curriculum and director of the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Download the Article

PDF Download "Preparing Faculty, Professionalizing Fellows: Keys to Success with Undergraduate Writing Fellows in WAC"

Related Resource Topics

© 2023 National Writing Project