Writing Center tutors will be embedded within WRC 1013 Freshman Composition courses to help new UTSA students adjust to college life and academic demands this fall semester.
The idea was implemented by the FAST Committee (Focused Academic Support Team), which includes the associate director of the Judith G. Gardner Center for Writing Excellence, Martha Smith.
The Writing Center is the leader of the new Embedded Tutor Program. The tutors are chosen from experienced staff of The Writing Center, who were trained and prepped during the summer on how to handle the new position.
Smith picks each tutor participating within the new program. “I wanted to have an established tutor who has been through tutor training and who has tutored for at least a semester,” Smith said. “I also wanted to find tutors that I think the students in the class could relate to.”
The embedded tutors attend every class meeting and are added to the course on Blackboard Learn so that they’re aware of what students receive for the course. They also hold one “quick-chat office hour,” so students can ask questions concerning the class.
Students can also make one-on-one appointments with their embedded tutor at the Writing Center for detailed help concerning their assignments. “We hope that the familiarity with a peer tutor will encourage students who would not normally seek tutoring to make appointments,” Smith said.
There are currently six Writing Center tutors embedded into six different WRC 1013 courses: four at the main campus, one at the downtown campus and one on an online course. The tutors are paired with faculty members who teach at least two WRC 1013 courses–one class would have an embedded tutor, while the other would not.
Smith currently teaches two sections of WRC 1013, and one of the classes contains an embedded tutor. Smith’s embedded tutor is Jemima Thomas.
Thomas hopes to gain a better perspective from this experience. Thomas said, “I hope this experience will make me a better tutor
not only to WRC 1013 students, but also to other students who schedule an appointment with me.”
“Actively participating in a composition class will enable me to shift my perspective from ‘tutor mode’ to ‘student mode’ and truly experience the doubts, questions or confusions a student may have when assigned an essay,” Thomas said.
At the end of the semester, the program’s success will be evaluated by determining how many students in the paired classes visited the tutors’ office hours and made appointments for one-on-one tutoring compared to the students in the unpaired classes. The FAST Committee will also survey students and faculty members who participated in this program to learn about their experiences.
“The embedded tutor program is successful if students perform well in their first year at UTSA,” Thomas said. “Improving a freshman’s performance at UTSA encourages them to stay at UTSA, instead of transferring to other colleges or universities, or dropping out altogether.”