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Oakland University

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Writing and Rhetoric

WRT 320: Peer Tutoring in Composition, 4 credits

Fall 2015

Instructor: Lori Ostergaard

Office Address: 379 O’Dowd Hall

e-Mail Address:

Office Phone: 248-370-2075

Class Time: Online

Office Hours: Online by appointment

Course (Catalog) Description

Peer tutoring theories and pedagogies and practical experience in teaching. Work divided between classroom and tutoring assignments. Particularly valuable for majors in the humanities, education, psychology, human services, and related fields. Satisfies the university general education requirement in the knowledge applications integration area. Satisfies the university general education requirement for a writing intensive course in general education or the major, not both. Prerequisite: Completion of the university writing foundation requirement.

Partially Online

This 4-credit course is designated as partially-online. We will meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays almost every week. Some weeks one of our face-to-face classes will be replaced with an online course assignment. Please check the schedule for each project for the dates of these online classes. Note that you are responsible for completing online course work or you will be counted absent for that online course.

Course Goals

Course Texts (required)

Course Projects

Online/In-Class Work and Reading Responses 20%

Tutoring Journal 20%

Literacy Narrative 20%

Researched Tutoring Scenarios 20%

Writing Center Studies Research Paper 20%

Assignment Descriptions

Online/In-Class Work and Reading Responses 20%

You will be expected to complete weekly moodle discussions related to the works you are reading and issues we are examining in class. Every week I will post a discussion prompt designed to act as the initiating activity for our online class work for that week. During weeks when you are observing tutoring sessions, you will write short reflections about those sessions for your journal and pose interesting quesitons or observations for our online class.

Tutoring Journal 20%

Throughout the semester will also record your reflections on your own experiences as a client in the Writing Center, observations, reflections on co-tutoring, analyses of your tutoring sessions, and your tutor interviews in this journal. I will let you know when to prepare these different parts of the journal. I will collect this journal once in the middle of the semester and again at the end of the semester.

Literacy Narrative 20%

We'll begin the semester with an informal writing assignment. For this 3-5 page paper (or digital story, podcast, voicethread, movie), you'll reflect on your own growth as a writer. What are your first memories as a writer, how did you learn to write, who helped you, what struggles did you encounter, what struggles have you encountered as a college writer, how have you made the transition to writing in your own field? You will also be required to sign up for a tutoring session in the Writing Center so you can both get feedback on your work and begin to see how the tutoring process works. You'll include a single coverpage reflecting on your tutoring experience with your draft of this paper/digital story/podcast/movie.

Researched Tutoring Scenarios 20%

We'll develop a series of tutoring scenario videos (3-5 minutes long) dealing with various challenges that tutors face. In your scenario you should present the situation and scene in detail, providing the dialogue between the tutor and tutee. You will write a 200-300 word introduction to the scenario, 4-5 discussion questions related to the scenario, and two references providing viewers with specific information related to the scenario depicted in your video (documented in APA style). We will make the most of the work you do for this assignment by screening these scenarios as a class, (possibly) presenting the best scenarios at Festival of Writers, and posting them to the Department of Writing and Rhetoric's YouTube Channel for use by other Peer Tutoring Classes. We will link to your videos from a wiki that provides the introduction, discussion questions, and references for your video, and this wiki will be shared with the national Writing Center community.

Writing Center Studies Research Paper 20%

As a new tutor, you will need to understand current research in writing centers and peer tutoring. For this project, you will write a 3-5 page researched paper examining some issue, controversy, or aspect of tutoring. You may extend the research you did for your tutoring scenario to, for example, analyze approaches to working with LD or ESL writers, overcoming writing anxiety, teaching discipline-specific writing practices, etc.

Course Policies

Accommodations: Students with disabilities who may require reasonable accommodations should make an appointment with OU’s Disability Support Services office for assistance, by calling (248) 370-3266 or TTY: (248) 370-3268; faxing (248) 370-4989; or e-mailing

Academic Conduct Policy

Cheating on examinations, plagiarism, falsifying reports/records, and unauthorized collaboration are considered serious breaches of academic conduct. The Oakland University policy on academic conduct will be strictly followed with no exceptions. See the university catalog under Academic Policies and Procedures for more information.

Attendance Policy

All OU classes will adhere to the OU Excused Absence Policy found at: Otherwise, students in WRT courses are allowed a number of absences equivalent to one week during the semester, which would be three of our Monday, Wednesday, and Friday face-to-face or online classes, including absences due to absent-mindedness, illness, car trouble, or schedule conflicts.

For each absence beyond the one full week of absences allowed, your grade will be deducted by 0.1 on the 4.0 scale. Please be aware that students missing more than three combined weeks of class (more than 9 of our MWF class periods) are not eligible to receive a grade above 0.0 in WRT 320. Please be aware too that failure to complete online assignments by the deadline for that assignment will result in your being counted absent for that online class. There are no make-up assignments for missed online work.

Social Practices

I hope for lively, interesting, and informed discussion throughout the semester. I expect that you will respect your classmates and me by coming to class on time, prepared, and, if not entirely excited to be here, at least willing to fake it for our sakes. I expect you to be respectful to your peers, to me, and to anyone else you encounter in the course of completing research for this class.

Cell Phones/Smart Phones/Texting

Our class will follow a strict "no phones out" policy. If you have an emergency, you may ask me before class for an exception to this policy, but otherwise, all phones must be put away (in backpacks, purses, coat pockets) before class begins. If I see your phone out, I will not say a word about it. I will simply mark you absent for class.

Contacting me

Email is the fastest way to get a response from me to one of your questions. However, I reserve the right not to respond to questions that can be answered by consulting the syllabus, schedule, or Moodle or other online course materials. I will try to respond to emails within 24 hours on weekdays and 48 hours over weekends. I am generally on campus 5-6 days a week, but I am frequently in meetings, attending to faculty issues, or conducting my own research. You are welcome to drop by the office to meet with me without an appointment, but please know that if it is not my scheduled office hour, I may not be there or be available. I am also happy to meet with you beyond my scheduled office hours. Just email to request a meeting and we'll find a time that works for both of our busy schedules.

Late Work

Work submitted late will be graded one full grade lower for each class period (this includes online class periods) it is late. I reserve the right to fail any work submitted a week or more after the deadline. I also reserve the right not to respond to or return late work until after I have caught up on my other work. After you have submitted two late assignments, any additional projects submitted late will not receive a grade above 0.0. Late projects cannot be revised for a better grade. Please Note: any work completed after the deadline on Moodle will not receive a grade.

The Evil Computer Ate My Homework Excuses

are rarely acceptable these days (their only real chance of working is in the event of a whole system--like the entire OU network-failure and even then you're skating on very thin ice). We're all expected to deal with technology and deal with it responsibly everyday of our adult lives, so err on the side of obsessive when it comes to saving the documents you're working on. You may want to get a free Dropbox account to save your course work securely and privately online where you will always have access to it.


The University add/drop policy will be explicitly followed. It is your responsibility to be aware of the university deadline dates for dropping this course.

WRT 320 is one of my favorite courses to teach because the work we do in this class is of a very practical nature that can be applied immediately. In this class you will learn to work with a variety of writers facing a number of unique and individual challenges. If you find you like this sort of work, you should consider applying to work in the Writing Center after completing this class. Writing Center Consultants earn good money and excellent experience in their work with students, and many of these consultants go on to serve as Embedded Writing Specialists, working alongside Writing and Rhetoric faculty in our Basic Writing classes. Please let me know if you'd like more information about tutoring opportunities.