BIO: Technical Writing Assistant (S9681B)

Summary, Scope, and Responsibilities

Technical Writing Assistants (TWAs) work as peer writing tutors to provide students in core Biology courses with instruction in scientific writing, and to help students to identify problems in the structure and content of their papers through individual collaborative conferences. Most often, TWAs also work as Teaching Assistants (TAs) in the laboratory of the course to which they are assigned.

The TWA must have:

The Basics

Department: Biology
Supervisor: Greg Anderson
Office Location: 530 Carnegie
Email: ganderso
Pay Grade:
Hours: 4-5
Workers: 6-8

Qualifications, Requirements, and Responsibilities


REQUIRED: EDUCATION: TWAs must have completed at least one core biology course (Bio 201, 270, or s42) and have demonstrable fluency both in speaking and writing in English



• TWAs receive a minimum of 12 hours of training, in addition to completing a reading list outside of the training sessions. The training focuses on teaching listening and questioning skills, and suppressing the natural urge to edit, rather than respond to, other students’ work. During each session, trainees are required to read student writings "cold" and to respond to them, as practice for the real-life tutoring experience. Each TWA finishes their training by conducting a real tutoring session, observed by the trainer, after which they are given feedback by the trainer. • TWAs main duties are to conduct in-lab and out-of-lab sessions to help students learn the process of scientific writing. In the labs TWAs read each group’s introduction to the experiment being conducted, and then meet with the authors and ask questions to help them identify areas where their papers need work. Out of lab, TWAs offer one-on-one 20-minute tutoring sessions focusing on whatever parts of the paper a student wants to work on. • The 4-8 TWAs working in any one semester must decide among themselves when tutoring sessions will be held, who will work when, and must publicize the hours to the class and post sign-up sheets. • TWAs document each tutoring session by completing a tutoring record, listing the sections of the paper and types of issues they discussed with the student.