Peer Writing Project

What Is the Peer Writing Project?

The Peer Writing Project brings together Bates students with trained writing assistants in a relaxed setting for collaborative conversation at any stage of the writing process. The Project furthers the College’s general education writing initiatives by providing a convenient, informal, student-centered option for students seeking help with their writing.

All writers need readers and can benefit from sharing their work with a thoughtful, interested reader. As classmates and students themselves, peer writing assistants communicate on students’ terms and in their language, bringing student-oriented perspectives, insights, and local knowledge to the conversation.

One group of peer writing assistants works directly with the students in a particular writing-attentive course and collaborates closely with the instructor. The writing assistant serves as a direct resource for the class, working with students one-to-one or in small groups outside class hours and getting to know them and their individual strengths and problems as writers.

A second group of approximately fifteen writing assistants helps students on a drop-in basis Sunday through Thursday evenings in the Peer Writing Center in Ladd Library. Conferences in Ladd typically last between thirty and fifty minutes.

Student comments about writing assistants:

“The conference went really well. I completely reorganized my paper at the meeting. [The writing assistant] didn’t tell me what to do but asked me questions about my paper and the assignment that helped me figure it out for myself.”

“I gave her a rough draft which I was very hesitant on. She answered my questions and made sure my thesis was consistent throughout and my grammar wasn’t a disaster. I left with work to do, however felt more confident in my work and excited to actually hand it in.”

“Just having someone to shoot your ideas off of helps a lot, and it helps get what you’re trying to say on paper. I think the program is great and it has so far worked for me.”

“I went in with a completed draft, and I wanted to focus on making sure that my paper was organized around my thesis and followed it throughout. He really helped me with this, mostly by re-organizing my introduction to change both the tone, and the organizational focus of my paper. I really liked how I was able to determine what we focused on, how deeply we delved into it, and how long I wanted to work on it. I was given very good advice, and knew that if I had wanted to go more in depth I could have, but was able to keep it at the level that I had time for and wanted.  It was a very positive experience and I will definitely use it again.”

Faculty comments about course writing assistants:

“The peer writing assistant for my first-year seminar has been a terrific help to me and my students thus far this semester.  Not only has she met with them individually to discuss their drafts before submission; she has given extra help to students with notable writing problems, looking over sections of the Bedford Handbook with them when appropriate.  Attending class periodically, she has spoken to the group as a whole about her own experiences doing library research for papers at Bates, describing the multi-stage process through which she incorporates her findings into her own arguments.  She’s been a great addition to my course and I hope to work with her again next semester.”

“I think the first years all welcome having an additional sounding board for their ideas who is not quite the authority figure they see their professor as. Having a writing assistant makes it a lot more manageable to stage assignments in multiple stages: students brainstorm and jot down their ideas then discuss them with someone; work on a first draft; that draft gets commented on; then they revise and turn in a final draft. Going through these various stages helps students internalize the idea that writing is an evolving, processual thing.”