WOCI: Written and Oral Communication Initiative

Director: Dana L. Burgess, Charles E. and Margery B. Anderson Professor of Humanities and Professor of Classics (burgess@whitman.edu)

Working in collaboration with the Center for Writing and Speaking (COWS), the WOCI serves academic programs across the curriculum.

Writing Fellows Program (a resource for faculty)

Instructors teach many kinds of writing; each instructor understands the skills and techniques writers need for the area of inquiry. The Writing Fellows program supports instruction in discipline-specific writing skills across the curriculum. Some advanced students have learned well those writing skills important to a particular discipline or instructor.  Through the program of Writing Fellows these capable students are employed by the WOCI and assigned to specific courses where they can help the instructor with discipline-specific aspects of writing instruction. Whitman College does not employ teaching assistants, nor should it. The evaluation of students remains the responsibility of the instructor, but Writing Fellows are able to expand opportunities for the one-on-one or small-group work which is the hallmark of a Whitman education.

The Writing Fellows program is an opportunity for instructors to work closely with an advanced student in the definition and instruction of a specific writing skill.   In doing so, the instructor can more precisely define the task and can consider more fully the ways in which it may be taught. The Writing Fellow brings to this work his or her own experiences as a student working to learn the skill in question.  The dialogue between instructor and Writing Fellow can help the instructor develop pedagogic techniques, even as it immediately advances the students' skills in written communication.

Writing Fellows are selected by individual instructors, ideally from among students who have completed a specific course. Writing Fellows are trained and supervised by the instructor, but they may also get valuable training from the course Composition 310; Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing. Students interested in becoming a Writing Fellow are encouraged to take this course.

English as a Second Language Fellows Program (a resource for students)

Students for whom English is a second language can profit from regular and sustained work on language skills. The ESL Fellows program identifies, trains and supervises students for this work. Typically, an ESL Fellow has two clients per semester, and all work is one-on-one. Clients may choose to work on language issues from their enrolled coursework, or they may choose to work

The WOCI is especially eager to identify students with intercultural experience for work as ESL Fellows.  Some of the support offered clients includes help in adjusting to a new cultural context. Though the WOCI supports the cadre of ESL Fellows with weekly meetings and a pre-service training program, students interested in working as ESL Fellows are encouraged to take the course Composition 310; Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing. Students who would like to get support for their English language learning from an ESL Fellow should contact the manager of this program, Professor Devon Wooten, woottedc@whitman.edu.

First-Year Winter Writing Workshop (a resource for students)

The First-Year Winter Writing Workshop is a special opportunity for Whitman First-Year students to work with professors and peers on developing skills of academic writing. Fifteen students are selected for a one-week intensive workshop in the week before classes begin for the Spring semester. Participants will have no other academic commitments at this time and are expected to attend all sessions throughout each of the five days. This opportunity comes at no cost to the students, who are housed in College dormitories and eat on a subsidized meal plan. First-year students who are interested in this possibility, should contact Professor Dana Burgess (burgess@whitman.edu).

Whitman Undergraduate Conference Presentation Coaching Program

Each April Whitman's Undergraduate Conference offers an opportunity for students to present their work to members of the Whitman and Walla Walla communities. The Whitman Undergraduate Conference Presentation Coaching program identifies and trains a cadre of student coaches to work with individual conference participants on skills of oral presentation. Special support is also offered for working with presentation software. All presenters at the Whitman Undergraduate Conference will be assigned a presentation coach. Students interested in work as a presentation coach should contact Professor Dana Burgess (burgess@whitman.edu).