Department of Writing and Rhetoric

O'Dowd Hall, Room 378
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2746
fax: (248) 370-2748

Embedded Writing Specialists

Each year, the Department of Writing and Rhetoric offers approximately thirteen sections of basic writing for more than 250 students (including nearly all conditional admits) whose ACT English scores are 15 and below. In the embedded writing specialist program, upper-level student workers who are majors or minors in Writing and Rhetoric, who have completed WRT 320: Peer Tutoring in Composition, and who have experience in the university writing center receive additional training in basic writing curriculum and pedagogy and serve as embedded writing specialists in the Basic Writing classrooms. Writing specialists participate in professional development workshops for a total of ten hours before the semester begins, meet with the respective instructors one hour every other week, and participate in classroom meetings and one-on-one tutorials for a total of two to three hours per week. They may meet with students for additional hours in the writing center as part of their assigned hours in the center.

This project was piloted in 2011-2012 with positive feedback from WRT 102 students and embedded tutors. Faculty supervision and assessment includes one annual course release for Dana Driscoll, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric, to develop and deliver training modules, serve as point of contact for tutors, meet with tutors bi-weekly, and gather and disseminate data on assessment as part of her research agenda.

The embedded tutor program aims to increase retention among this at-risk group of students, provides in-class tutoring experience for majors and minors in Writing and Rhetoric, and fuels the research agendas for our tenure-track faculty. By creating a line in the new programs budget for the BA in Writing and Rhetoric, we serve our majors, our students, our faculty, and the university by including resources for professional development, oversight, and assessment. We also generate additional data on retention that supports efforts such as connecting upper-level students with at-risk first year students as peer mentors.

Research Team Members

  • Lori Ostergaard
  • Dana Driscoll
  • Amanda Laudig
  • Cathy Rorai