About the Program

Program Information

The Writing Assistance Program (WAP) operates under the premise that guided revision is the most critical process in improving student writing. Writing Assistants partner with faculty to enhance the educational experience of students and to encourage students to invest in the revision process. With some exceptions, Writing Assistants usually don't attend class sessions. Instead, they interact with student writers by arranging meetings outside of class or providing feedback on drafts of assigned projects. 

Writing Assistants are full-time, undergraduate students, who have worked in the RWIT peer writing center as tutors. These students have passed through a rigorous hiring process, completed a month-long, new-tutor education program, and completed at least one full term of tutoring in the center. Writing Assistants harnesss this training and their own backgrounds as writers and learners in order to collaborate with faculty and support students within the framework of a Dartmouth course. 

Faculty looking to request a WA for an upcoming course can read more about program policies and request procedures

What Does a Writing Assistant Do?

Under the directon of faculty, Writing Assistants (WAs) provide feedback on students writing projects. This feedback can take many forms and focus on different aspects of student work, depending on the nature of the course and on the decisions faculty make in dialogue with WAs. But WA feedback, no matter its form or focus, always addresses drafts of projects - drafts that students are in the process of developing or revising.  

Common WA work

While faculty choose to employ WAs in lots of different ways, there are a few common approaches:

  • providing written or recorded commentary on rough drafts,
  • discussing drafts in invididual or group meetings outside of class,
  • arranging open office-hours leading up to a project due date,
  • participating during in-class writing workshops or leading peer-review exercises, and
  • responding to planning documents like outlines, research proposals, or storyboards.

WAs vs Teaching Assistants

WAs are a kind of peer instructor, and many faculty invovle their WAs in decisions about course design. But WAs are not Teaching Assistants; they are not permitted to have input on or discuss student grades with faculty. They shouldn't collect assignments, take attendance, or administer quizzes or exams. 

WAs Promote Learning

Nor are WAs (or Tutors in the RWIT peer writing center) editors; their goal is not solely to improve each draft they encounter. They act as coaches, supporting students as they make their own decisions and develop strategies to improve. As a result, WAs won't provide copy editing for student drafts, nor will their feedback represent a comprehensive roadmap for higher grades. Instead, WAs aim to help students develop:

  • the ability to identify areas for improvement in drafts
  • an understanding of the writing conventions in different disciplines and genres
  • strategies for generating and testing claims, structuring documents logically, incorporating scholarly sources, and other fundamental writing tasks
  • work habits that balance students' individual needs with the demands of their writing projects 
  • writerly confidence and self-efficacy