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Libraries Train Peer Tutors

The Libraries have partnered with the Campus Writing Coordinator and Student Housing to implement a Writing and Library Research Peer Tutor Program. Developed under the auspices of Student Housing's First-Year Initiatives program, the program provides academic support to students who need help making the transition from high school to the university.

The program placed five Peer Tutors in Mesa Court and Middle Earth, the freshman housing communities, on weekday evenings during winter quarter 2006. The tutors completed a rigorous training program led by Cathy Palmer, Head of Education and Outreach in the Libraries, and Susan Cross, Senior Writing Specialist. Lydia Stawaz-Soleil, former First-Year Initiatives Coordinator, was instrumental in developing the program. So was Susan Jarratt, the Campus Writing Coordinator, who funded the project with a grant of $8,500. The Libraries were logical partners because all required lower-division writing courses include a research component.

"We know that many students need help in meeting the expectations to excel in their beginning level writing courses, but they may not know who or how to ask for help," explains Stawaz-Soleil. "Having peer tutors readily accessible in the housing communities makes it easy for these new students to get help with their writing and research skills."

James Garcia, a senior Social Science major with minors in English and Education, is one of the peer tutors. He notes "It's a wonderful opportunity to help students improve their writing and their research skills. I like the idea of working with freshman because it helps them develop good study habits early on."

Susan Cross echoes James' enthusiasm for the program and provides evidence for its effectiveness. "Research in the field of composition pedagogy indicates that students learn well from peer tutors in one-to-one conferences, particularly because this method of teaching fosters higher-order thinking."

The partners who developed the program agree. Based on a highly successful first year, the Libraries, Campus Writing Coordinator, and Housing have committed resources to continue the program through the 2006/2007 academic year.

For more information, contact Cathy Palmer, Head of Education and Outreach (cpalmer@uci.edu or x44972).

 

 

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