Photo by Zoe Hu/The Gazelle

Long-term GAF Partnerships to Improve Student Writing

On 4 Feb., NYU Abu Dhabi’s Writing Partner Program held a kickoff dinner event for the spring semester, inviting students to learn about its offered ...

Feb 7, 2015

Photo by Zoe Hu/The Gazelle
On 4 Feb., NYU Abu Dhabi’s Writing Partner Program held a kickoff dinner event for the spring semester, inviting students to learn about its offered partnerships, set up their first meetings and get to know the rest of the university's writing community.
This initiative from the Writing Center was envisioned as individual partnerships arranged between students and Global Academic Fellows, who could lend support to participants beyond the university’s foundational Analysis and Expression courses.
WPP held a pilot event last fall, and following its success expanded the number of students and GAFs involved. Despite nearly tripling in size, however, the program is still restricted to a relatively small pool of students.
Before the implementation of WPP, students were encouraged to take part in the university’s Summer Language Scholars Program, conducted via Skype, for which WPP can now either serve an alternative or introductory course. The key difference is that WPP students can, over the spring, focus on the classes they are taking, and therefore transition into the Core Curriculum more effectively. The program also encourages one-on-one relationships with GAFs.
The current group, consisting of mostly freshmen, was selected based on grades, professor evaluations and overall performance in fall Analysis and Expression classes. While participation is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged.
WPP also differs in how students interact with GAFs. Currently, students outside of the program get writing support though walk-in hours at the Academic Resource Center or its appointment booking system. This program goes beyond traditional writing support, however, in that it requires a minimum of six sessions with the same GAF to foster a long-term partnership. Students will be asked to deliver self-evaluations throughout the semester in order to identify their progress and goals.
Freshman Rogers Iradukunda is excited about the opportunity to write his contract, which will dictate the terms of the partnership.
“It is based entirely on my terms,” Iradukunda wrote to The Gazelle. “It encompasses stuff like how long should one cancel a meeting before the scheduled date, how many more meetings one would like to have with the GAF in addition to the required six [and] what goals one would like to achieve at the end of the program.”
Associate Director for the Writing Center Ken Nielsen echoed this sentiment, saying that the program’s goal is to be personalized and unique to each student participating.
“It’s really meant to be student driven, in that the fellow is there [...] to help the student figure out what the student wants to work on,” said Nielsen. “So, it works as a support, but also works as a way of figuring out who [one is] as a writer, what [they] want to work on.”
Iradukunda and fellow freshman Daniyar Bolysbayev both reported that the classroom setting of Analysis and Expression often made the writing support they received feel impersonal, and that they now look forward to improving what they have learned through the partnership.
“I'm glad that I am a part of it because I feel [Analysis and Expression] never taught me all that is required to be a good writer. I can say A&E did fifty percent of the job, at least in my case,” Iradukunda said.
Program Director Marion Wrenn emphasized that the program will not only focus on analyzing writing in papers, but will also address broader aspects of writing like study habits, study skills and time management.
She chuckled at how similar the idea was to life-coaching, and quickly added: “You can’t really not talk about that stuff when you talk about who you are as a writer.”
For the the future, WPP would like expand to include upperclassmen and even student-led partnerships.
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