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First Year Seminar Companion: Writing Support

This guide provides an online version of much of the material contained in Dr. Todd Gernes's "A First-Year Seminar Companion," created in September 2015. Faculty will find information on First-Year Seminar (FYS) guidelines, sample syllabi, learning style

The MacPhaidin Library

librarydeskgroup@stonehill.eduFirst Year Seminars offer students excellent opportunities to begin building their information fluency skills. The Reference team can collaborate with you and your students to achieve a number of FYS learning outcomes, including:

Accessing and Organizing Information

  • Through Library instruction, students learn to match information needs to search tools and construct effective search terms; understand that their first attempts at searching will not always produce acceptable results; and develop their ability to generate and revise a research question.

Sources and Evidence

  • Librarians can teach students how to assess the credibility of a source in the context of its discipline and genre and how to accurately use citation standards in their work.

Librarians are available to assist with your FYS by:

  • Constructing a series of scaffolded instruction sessions that introduce research skills and resources over the course of the semester
  • Offering one-time active learning instruction sessions built around a class assignment
  • Building a course-specific Library Resources module for your eLearn site
  • Conducting one-on-one or small group research sessions with your students
  • Creating a LibGuide specific to your course
  • Designing and implementing rubrics to evaluate student information fluency skills
  • We also welcome other ideas for collaborations and services.

If you are interested in working with a librarian, contact us at or call 508-565-1313. You are also welcome to contact your Subject Liaison directly.  A full list of Subject Liaisons’ departments is available on our website:

The Center for Writing and Academic Achievement (CWAA)

The Center for Writing and Academic Achievement (CWAA) provides academic support services in a welcoming, professional environment that emphasizes collaborative learning and peer tutoring, supplemented with professional-level support. We believe in providing educational opportunities which contribute towards a lifelong love of learning for all Stonehill students. The CWAA is located in MacPhaidin Library, Room 314.

Writing tutoring is offered five days a week by peer tutors who work with students individually to address "higher-order concerns," such as argumentation, organization, and voice, before moving on to "later-order concerns," such as grammar, syntax, mechanics, and citation formats. They help students with assignments from any discipline and at any stage of the writing process. Writing Tutors must be nominated by faculty and successfully complete a three-credit tutor training course, WRI 369, Writing and Peer Tutoring before they are eligible to work in the CWAA. A drop-in schedule is posted on the CWAA website.

Each session with at Writing Tutor centers on conversation. During an appointment, Writing Tutors will engage the student writer by first asking the writer to read the paper out loud. The Writing Tutor will ask clarifying questions and suggest revisions. Although Writing Tutors do not edit or proofread papers, they will help with editing and proofreading techniques. Students are responsible for the quality and integrity of their revised papers.

Writing Tutors typically address:

  • Understanding an assignment or text
  • Interpreting a professor's comments on a paper
  • Organizing, listing, diagramming, or outlining
  • Developing a draft with new ideas and information
  • Writing style, voice, and persona
  • Creating a thesis statement and supporting claims with evidence
  • Constructing an argument or writing to persuiade
  • Researching a topic, documenting sources, or understanding citation styles
  • Paragraph organization, topic sentences, and transitions
  • Editing to improve clarity, cohesiveness, or conciseness
  • Grammar issues and writing mechanics
  • Proofreading and formatting techniques

If a faculty member identifies the need for a student to receive a greater level of writing support, they can submit a Faculty/Staff Referral Form. Once a request has been submitted, the Director will reach out to the student to schedule an initial evaluation before pairing him or her with a Professional Tutor. These tutors are often adjunct faculty in the Writing program who are available on a limited basis.

The Writing Fellows Program


The Writing Program and the Center for Writing and Academic Achievement (CWAA) are pleased to offer the Writing Fellows Program to support writing-intensive First-Year Seminars and Writing in the Disciplines courses at Stonehill. All Writing Fellows have successfully completed WRI 369, Writing and Peer Tutoring, and they also work as Writing Tutors in the CWAA. Their training as Fellows and Tutors continues over the course of the semester, but it is also expected that each faculty member assigned a Fellow will provide on-going communication, supervision, and support. Fellows may work up to five hours per week, or 70 hours over the course of the semester. 

The Writing Fellow’s Role in the Classroom

A Writing Fellow’s main responsibility is to support and facilitate writing activities in and out of the classroom, including the following:

  • Respond to drafts of student papers and informal assignments prior to them being submitted for a final grade.
  • Collaborate with faculty on crafting and “auditioning” writing assignments.
  • Facilitate or participate in small-group discussions of student work or structured peer review sessions.
  • Serve as liaisons to the CWAA to facilitate referrals for one-to-one tutoring.
  • Provide tutoring support for individual students by appointment in the CWAA.
  • Respond online to student blogs or discussion forums and chats on eLearn.

Writing Fellows should not be asked to:

  • Complete all of the course readings.
  • Lead review sessions.
  • Proctor examinations or quizzes.
  • Grade assignments, high-stakes papers, or examinations.
  • Conduct research unrelated to class preparation.
  • Provide clerical support to faculty.
  • Provide one-to-one tutoring outside of the CWAA.
  • Discipline students.

How to apply: The CWAA has a staff of trained Fellows to work with you and your class. The online application can be found on the CWAA Website. Inquiries should be directed to Devon Sprague, Director of the Center for Writing and Academic Achievement at or 508-565-1751.

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