Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

Working in Third Space: How a Writing Centers Embedded Consultant Program Serves Both Students and Teachers

Department

Writing Department

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

At Grand Valley State University, writing consultants are embedded in first-year writing courses. All sections are assigned one consultant for at least an hour a week. Teachers can also request consultants for workshops or recommend appointments for students. Consultants engage students during lab, discuss drafting progress, alert them to resources, or address concerns. To prepare for this role, consultants undergo training on different tutoring styles and strategies. A class, mentor meetings, and professional development workshops give consultants a theoretical, practical and pedagogical understanding of their role. The writing center exists as an academic third space that supports students and teachers without acting as a bridge between them. In class, consultants assist with activities or work one-to-one with students. However, consultants are not teachers, so having them in class is meant to be equally beneficial to students and teachers. Consultants serve as another set of expert hands for the instructor. Their services are responsive not only to the needs of the students and the course, but instructors as well. They offer peer assistance and provide much-needed feedback to students. It is often difficult to provide students with individualized attention, but the consultants presence lightens the teachers load, as students rely on not only the instructor but the consultant for assistance. The embedded consultants consult with students and faculty. Teachers confidently seek out their advice and feel comfortable soliciting their opinion on a variety of issues. During classroom workshops consultants help facilitate peer review sessions by modeling how to give good feedback, and encouraging more reflective student discussions. This discussion examines the benefits and organization of the embedded consultant program, comparing it to other universities, and discussing how a similar model could be developed elsewhere.

Conference Name

Council of Writing Program Administrators

Conference Location

Normal, IL

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