The TRAC Writing Fellows program is based on the tried-and-true notion that collaboration among peers is one of our most effective and efficient methods of learning. When motivated peers come together in focused effort toward a common end, the results can be uncommonly good, both in terms of the work produced and what is learned in the process.
The program is also based on three other important guiding assumptions about writing itself. The first is that writing is a vital mode of learning that promotes intellectual engagement, active learning, and critical thinking. The second is that writing is a lifelong process that is never completely mastered, not by anyone. A better writer is a not only a better communicator, but a better thinker as well, and there’s always room for improvement. Third, all academic disciplines and their related professions have their own special kinds of writing that require special skills.
Who are the TRAC Fellows?
The TRAC Fellows are talented undergraduate student writers from across the majors, nominated by faculty, and selected through a highly competitive application process. They are then trained in a rigorous full-semester seminar course to become careful, attentive, and forthcoming readers of your writing who can offer constructive feedback and guide you through a productive and edifying revision process. They are not TAs or even tutors in the traditional sense. It’s best to think of TRAC Fellows as talented writers and insightful readers who are trained to be a resource for you.
See Meet the Fellows for photos and more information about the current TRAC Fellows.
What can the TRAC Writing Fellows do for you?
The TRAC Fellows can help with all aspects of your writing, including: generating ideas, thoughtful treatment of content, claims and support, focus, organization, coherence, style, and mechanical correctness. They provide this support in two ways: First, by offering written commentary on working drafts of your writing assignments; and, second, through individual draft conferences. The written commentary can help you to see your own work from a fresh perspective and stimulate ideas about revision. Conferences are an opportunity for sustained, focused, and detailed conversation about your writing.
Also, though the TRAC Writing Fellows' main area of expertise is writing and the writing process, they are also trained as helpful resources in library and database research and the use of instructional technology.
What will the TRAC Fellows not do for you?
TRAC Fellows do not: Grade your assignments or speculate about grades your professor might award; “fix” or edit your writing; or do anything at all that interferes with peer-to-peer collaboration and your engagement in the revision process.
What are your responsibilities in working with the TRAC Fellows?
Your professor has chosen to work with the TRAC Writing Fellows Program because writing is an important part of your course. This arrangement, made for your benefit, constitutes a commitment to the program and, therefore, working with the TRAC Fellows is a course requirement. Accordingly, your responsibilities are:
- to follow carefully the professor’s instruction regarding writing;
- to make certain that working drafts are submitted to the TRAC Fellows when they are due;
- to read the TRAC Fellows’ written feedback on your drafts carefully and take it into consideration in your revision process;
- to sign up for draft conferences and make sure to come to conferences prepared and on time;
- to bring the draft with the TRAC Fellow’s feedback to the conference and come with specific plans and questions, ready to engage in a focused and detailed discussion about your writing.
What happens at a conference with a TRAC Fellow?
The conference is your opportunity to formulate a plan for revising your draft in preparation for final submission to your professor for grading. During the conference, the TRAC Fellow may question—and even challenge—specific aspects of your writing in order to stimulate your thinking and generate productive dialogue. The TRAC Fellow will be helpful, but it is your responsibility to make the most of the conference and do your best to leave the session with a clear plan for revision.
What if you’re already a good writer who doesn’t need “extra help”?
The simple truth is that all Lehigh students can benefit from working with TRAC Writing Fellows. Because writing is a mode of learning that is never mastered, and because professional success depends to a great extent upon lifelong development of discipline-specific sets of writing skills, everyone can benefit from the process of getting feedback and engaging in dialogue about their writing with smart and helpful readers.