Precepting program offers students writing help

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Tabita Strimbu, Contributing Writer

Mercer University’s Precepting program offers students the extra help they may need when struggling in the university’s interdisciplinary writing classes.

The program allows upperclassmen who have demonstrated advanced writing ability to attend an Understanding Self and Others (INT 101) courses with the aim of sharing their training to help facilitate and support writing instruction.

“Preceptors, technically speaking, are embedded writing tutors … preceptors are in a unique position in each of the sections in which they work. They are both student and teaching assistant and at the same time, they receive extended, serious, pre-professional training in the teaching of writing that credentials them for their own pursuits later on,” said Deneen Senasi, the director of the writing program.

Preceptors assist faculty with the writing instruction process in many ways: they attend classes which helps them build relationships with the first year students and professors, demonstrate writing skills and techniques, model communication for class discussion and work with students one on one to help them become more effective academic writers.

“The preceptor has resources to share with the students, and faculty if they wish, to make the process of writing more concrete,” Senasi said.

Senasi said many students who become preceptors demonstrate a strong ability for academic writing and choose to help first year students out of the Mercer ethos of building community.

“It was a really fulfilling experience to be involved not only with the students and their writing but also seeing what the teachers do to engage the students and how they approach writing instruction,” said Chase McFarlin, graduating senior and former preceptor. “Obviously you have to employ your own tactics to tutor writing instruction, but it was interesting collaborating with professors to figure out what is working and what is not. ”

The precepting program does offer outside events for students whose INT 101 classes may not have preceptors or need extra help.

“Drop In Days” are held periodically and allow students to get one-on-one instruction with preceptors. Students can focus on making progress on a draft or re-
vision as well as work on recurring issues in their academic writing.

The program also hosts several skill sets events where the writing program director will review writing skill and mechanics. Students then have the opportuni-
ty to work one-on-one or in small groups with preceptors to practice those skills.

These events cover a variety of topics related to the writing process such as how to write a thesis statement and how to organize your essay.

The program will be taking applications for preceptor positions at the end of the fall and spring semesters.