Connecting Research and Writing Through Students
Tuesday, October 20 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Speakers: Greg Skutches, Tina Hertel, Kenzie Bartlett, Deborah Streahle (Lehigh University)
Moderated by Christine Roysdon
The innovative TRAC (Technology, Research and Communication) Writing Fellows Program at Lehigh University is based on the “tried-and-true notion that collaboration among peers is one of our most effective and efficient methods of learning.” Greg Skutches described the evolution of the TRAC concept over his initial year as the Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum at Lehigh. He stressed that his rather unique placement within the Library and Technology Services unit, as opposed to the usual WAC placement within an academic college, enabled him to imagine a program that encompassed not only writing, but also the research process, the use of technology, and faculty development.
The program tests the idea that student writing mentors embedded in courses can knowledgeably and empathetically interact with peers on assignment drafts and research progress, and can even help faculty fine-tune assignments. Fellows chosen are talented undergraduate student writers from across the majors, nominated by faculty, and selected through a highly competitive application process. As a group, they are enrolled in a semester-long training course that encompasses not only writing, but also library research and instructional technology.
Tina Hertel has developed the library research aspect of the program. She noted that in the first year she presented the big picture of the information environment, but now has adopted a more practical focus. She has observed that the TRAC students tend to be good researchers who are sometimes surprised by the methods used by fellow students.
The two TRAC fellows, Kenzie Bartlett and Deborah Streahle, have been thinking about how the libraries can be better integrated into the student research process. They emphasized the importance of just-in-time librarian visits to courses with assignments, and the need to simplify and streamline the navigation of library systems.