Peer Writing Consultants: Tutoring Across Educational Domains


Mar 17, 2014 Bookmark and Share

The Sweetland Center for Writing is unique in its collection of staff members, ranging across many different fields of study. When I first joined the team of Sweetland peer writing consultants, I was amazed at all the different majors employed by the other members. From microbiology to programming in the environment and history, the Sweetland writing consultants come from various educational backgrounds. As a neuroscience and English double major, I was pleasantly surprised to connect with other writing consultants who have experienced the same science classes and others who can recommend their favorite English professors. While my two areas of study often seem completely unrelated, with absolutely no overlap in course requirements, the Sweetland Center of Writing seemed to be a perfect home for all academic interests to coincide.

With peer consultants from all different arenas of study, some writers may worry they are not getting the best help with their work. However, I have found the exact opposite to be true. All peer consultants are equipped with the skills to tackle any writer’s greatest concerns. Furthermore, each peer consultant offers an exceptional perspective, based on his or her own background. Much in the same way that a writer offers a piece of him or herself in the work he or she produces, the peer consultant grants the writer with special insight from a new viewpoint. The diversity in backgrounds strengthens the peer writing consultant community, providing our writers with a variety of opinions and advice, yet rooted in common peer consultant practices acquired from training.

I have found that studying two opposing disciplines has strengthened my ability to connect with writers. I have had the joy of working with writers who are interested strictly in the sciences and the idea of expressing ideas through language terrifies them. It becomes comforting to the writer when we can relate due to our fascination with the scientific world, while I also understand the grand task of successfully articulating thoughts, either scientific or otherwise, onto paper from a science-based standpoint. Additionally, writers with assignments in the humanities are wonderful to work with because I share a passion for classic literature and communication through writing. I have taught English in Ghana and scrubbed in for surgeries in Peru, and I firmly believe that our experiences translate through our writing. No matter what the discipline or where in the world, the value of writing is tremendous because it serves as a way to communicate across time. As a tutor, I hope to enhance the writer’s voice and work to create something the writer is proud of because it is representative of him or her, despite the subject matter.

Often times, the writers, regardless of the assignment or project they are seeking help with, have the same questions: How can I organize my argument? How do I make the thesis stronger? Are the wordings and grammatical structures clear? It is notable that almost all writers share common concerns; and the peer writing consultants are all prepared to discuss these apprehensions with the writers. Writing is a process, one that we develop over our lives, and the inclusion of others, such as peer writing consultants, in this process allows for ideas to flow in innovative and collaborative ways. In the tradition of the diverse Michigan population, the peer writing staff is also marvelously diverse and qualified to respond to works from diverse fields of study.

Serena Bidwell
Sweetland Center for Writing Peer Writing Consultant
Neuroscience & English Major, University of Michigan Class of 2015

Learn more about becoming a Sweetland Peer Writing Consultant. Application deadline in Monday, March 24th.