Writing & Multiliteracy Center

Below please check out this feature article about the UMassD Writing & Multiliteracy Center written by tutor Nina Francisco. The Writing & Multiliteracy Center was formerly known as the Multiliteracy & Communication Center.

Senior Tutors Reflect on Their Tutoring Experiences as the MCC Recruits for Fall 2019 

Senior tutors at the Multiliteracy and Communication Center (the MCC) are reflecting on their experiences as tutors while gearing up for graduation on Friday May 10th, 2019.

In 2018, Dr. Elisabeth Buck, assistant professor in English at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, established a new tutoring center on campus called the Multiliteracy and Communication Center. The MCC tutors help students with all stages of the writing process, including research and reading strategies, brainstorming, thesis and argument development, organization, clarity, and understanding citations. Students can also get tutored on document and web writing/design. Tutors also offer advice for professional preparation, including resumes, statements of purpose, presentations, public speaking, and listening skills.

The MCC staff includes undergraduate and graduate tutors from a variety of majors and disciplines, including engineering, psychology, biology, political science, and the humanities. This diversity in the MCC staff allows students to work one-on-one with tutors whose expertise aligns with the assignment or subject.

To become a tutor, undergraduate students must complete a three-credit course called ENL 359 Tutoring Writing prior to working in the MCC. This course allows tutors to learn the theories and dynamics of writing consultation and multimodal tutoring. The course readings theorize the writing process, conflicting ideas about writing itself, as well as writing/multiliteracy center history, theory, and practice. The course also involves field work (equivalent to one hour per week) as a tutor in the MCC, which allows students to practice their tutoring strategies.

While the undergraduate tutors of the Class of 2019 had many positive memories associated with tutoring at the MCC, there were memories that stuck out the most: the ENL 359 Tutoring Writing course that allowed them to discover their passion for tutoring.

Christina Sobran, a graduating English major and current graduate student in the Masters of Teaching program, reflected on how the Tutoring Writing course helped her gain the teaching experience she needs for her future as an educator.

When asked what she enjoyed most about the course, Christina explained, “I enjoyed the way we learned about the research into effective tutoring practices in conjunction with our training in the practical application of that research. You’re not just learning a theory; you’re using it. As someone who is pursuing a career in teaching, I found the study of working with people with a variety of learning styles to be both consistent with knowledge I gleaned in my other studies as well as an augmentation of it.”

Christina also reflected on how the MCC serves as a collaborative space that renders the tutors and students as equals, which creates a safe environment to discuss the material and challenge each other with ideas. According to Christina, it’s the MCC’s values of community and diversity that allowed her to have a positive experience as a peer tutor. When asked how the class prepared her for tutoring, Christina mentioned, “I felt very prepared for tutoring in the sense that we learned not just that everyone has an individual learning style, but that there are toolboxes of strategies we can use to work effectively with the diverse and complex people we are tutoring.”

Similarly, Sam Howard, a graduating English major who hopes to pursue graduate studies, also reflected on how this balance of theory and practice allowed her to practice her to work one-on-one with students on an individual basis. When asked how the class prepared her for tutoring, Sam explained, “The class prepared me for tutoring by giving me instructions and a background on how and why one works at the tutoring center and also gave me time to learn everyone in the MCC so I felt comfortable with coming to work.”

While both Christina and Sam are sad to be leaving the MCC after graduation this year, they are excited for the future of the tutoring center as a collaborative and supportive space for tutors and students on campus. When asked if they had any advice for future tutors looking to join the training course this fall, both graduates were quick to reflect on their positive memories during training.

Christina described, “The ENL 359: Tutoring Writing course was a rewarding experience. I feel like it benefited me as a student, as a future teacher, and as a person. It would also benefit anyone who feels maybe not 100 percent confident in their people skills. My advice: Show up on time, contribute, and ask lots of questions!”

Sam also added, “My advice is to create connections with the students in the class as well as the mentor tutors within the MCC because they will be the ones to have your back if something goes wrong during a tutoring session and they will speak on your behalf in getting the job in the first place.”

The ENL 359: Tutoring Writing course will be offered during the Fall 2019 semester on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2:00 to 2:50 p.m. in  LARTs 202. All students, regardless of major or discipline, who have passed ENL 102 are eligible to join.

For more information on how to join the course next fall, please contact Dr. Elisabeth Buck at ebuck@umassd.edu.