Freshmen To Receive Additional Writing and Research Help Through

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Aimed at easing the transition from high school to college for freshmen living in residence halls, UC Irvine will pilot the Writing and Library Research Peer Tutoring Program.
Under the umbrella of UCI Student Housing’s First Year Initiative Program, five UCI students will provide evening tutoring in writing and library research in Mesa Court and Middle Earth.
‘Research in the field of composition pedagogy indicates that students learn well from peer tutors in one-to-one conferences, particularly because this method of teaching fosters higher-order thinking,’ said Susan Cross, writing specialist in the English department and peer tutor trainer.
Cathy Palmer, head of Education and Outreach in the Langson Library, co-trained the peer tutors with Cross.
‘Providing academic support services like writing and library research tutors in the dorms is one more avenue that will make students aware that immersion in the academic side of the university is the real point of their education,’ Palmer said.
Lydia Stawasz Soleil, graduate student career consultant, noted that the program differs from similar programs due to its proximity and convenience to freshmen residents.
‘By attending peer tutoring, students will get chances to work on their writing and research in a supportive environment with an understanding peer who can coach them as they develop as a writer and researcher,’ Soleil said. ‘Having it in the residence halls makes the service in a location that is convenient to students at a time that they are likely to be working on a paper.’
Initially financed with a grant from the housing department, the continuation of the program beyond spring quarter 2006 hinges on the availability of additional funds.
‘For the program to continue, one or more departments on campus would have to come up with enough money from their current budget to fund the program past spring,’ Soleil said. ‘Also, one or more departments would have to put the yearly cost into their budget.’
According to UCI’s admissions office, as of Sept. 29, 2005, UCI enrolled approximately 4,344 new students in fall quarter 2005. UCI’s incoming freshmen demonstrate advanced academic preparedness, with a high school grade point average of 3.88, slightly up from the 3.83 average of those admitted in 2002.
However, with high-achieving high school students comes a new challenge; these bright freshmen are used to doing well, and could be in for a surprise when they see that college is a different environment.
According to Randall Sessler, a fourth-year English major and writing and library research peer tutor, for many freshmen, going to see a professor one-on-one in office hours is quite intimidating.
‘Peer tutors offer a relaxed environment to not only discuss actual drafts but also the student’s ideas,’ Sessler said. ‘For first-year students adjusting to the college environment, meeting with someone your own age and someone who has been through the same struggles is very reassuring. I feel students are more comfortable around their peers and are less concerned with screening ideas.’
First-year residents can meet with a peer tutor Monday through Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. in Mesa Court’s Activity Center Classroom or Middle Earth’s Gondolin Multi-Purpose Room.

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