Becoming a Writing and Speaking Assistant

The Writing and Speaking Center is a key component of Writing at Bates. As members of the Writing at Bates team, Peer Writing and Speaking Assistants reinforce the foundational principles underlying our work with writing (and speaking) on campus:

  1. We are a community of practice.
  2. Writing is thinking; speaking is thinking.
  3. The scholarly conversation requires us to ask questions, test our beliefs, and
    rethink and revise our ideas.
  4. We believe in the power of collaborative learning and teaching.
  5. We want writers and speakers to gain self-reliance and independence.

While Peer Writing and Speaking Assistants should have good writing ability and strong oral communication skills, they should also be open to continuously improving their own writing and speaking.  Intellectual curiosity and a genuine desire to mentor and learn from others are also important traits for a PWSA.

PWSAs are selected once a year through a competitive process that begins in winter semester. Students are initially identified by faculty or staff nomination and then invited to apply. (Self-nominations are only rarely accepted.) The hiring process includes an application letter, samples of academic writing, and an interview with Writing at Bates staff and current PWSAs.

The commitment to being a Writing and Speaking Assistant is significant: PWSAs must be able to devote up to fifty hours per semester, or four to five hours each week, to the program.  Some PWSAs are attached to courses such as First-Year Seminars; others staff the drop-in center in Ladd.  PWSAs attend several days of training at the beginning of fall semester to learn about theories of writing and oral communication and best practices in tutoring others. They also attend weekly staff development meetings throughout the semester and are closely mentored by the Director of Writing and Writing Specialists. Writing and Speaking Assistants are paid on an hourly basis at the top student rate.

If you are a faculty or staff member who would like to nominate a student as a Writing and Speaking Assistant, please use our online form.


What Do Writing and Speaking Assistants Say About Their Work?

– “Peer writing was a great asset to me at Bates both academically and personally. Through this job I became a better writer and speaker, became more sensitive to the differences in the way that people think and communicate, and made many more friends.”

– “Not only did I enjoy my time working with Peer Writing, but I learned a great deal about myself, my writing, my teaching, my strengths, and my weaknesses. It is a program that promotes student-to-student mentorship and development, and in an institution largely defined by student-to-professor relationships, I think as many students as we can get to teach other students, the better. Everybody learns, everybody develops. It’s a win-win.”

– “Being a Peer Writer really helped me as a writer. Learning to think explicitly about writing is really important to my writing process now. Peer Writing is also the place at Bates where I learned most about teamwork and leadership.”