New Project Launched for Tutoring Writing

Nashua MBA students at Dr. Tolias’s recent workshop

A select group of MAAL students in the University’s M.A. in Applied Linguistics program are taking part in an innovative writing tutoring project that draws on the collective expertise of three different units: the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Hellenic American University Writing Center, and the M.A. in Applied Linguistics (MAAL) program.

The idea for the project, which has been developed Dr. Dimitris Tolias, who heads the MAAL and serves as Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, is simple, even if its implementation, given the logistics of coordinating schedules across time zones, multiple instructors, and tight deadlines, isn’t. Graduate students enrol in the MAAL’s elective course in Writing Tutoring, where they learn about how a writing center works and what tutoring processes involve, and about how to apply these theoretical models and principles in tutoring writing. As part of the course, students complete 30 hours of supervised asynchronous personal writing tutoring. In this case—and this is what makes the project unique—they will be providing help to international MBA students at the Nashua, NH campus, under the direct supervision of Dr. Vassiliki Kourbani, the course instructor and Director of the University’s Writing Center.

The new initiative serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it marshals coursework, its supervised practicum, and certification opportunities to advance the personal and professional development of the MAAL students as language practitioners and teachers. On the other hand, and at a very practical level, the initiative will provide individualized assistance to international MBA students in Nashua on their writing assignments.

Dr. Tolias says he is thrilled about the project, and the benefits it offers for the graduate students taking the course. He points out that the course serves as a pathway for students to earn an internationally respected credential in academic tutoring and student support: the College Reading & Learning Association (CRLA) Certification.

At the same time, the course will be an opportunity for the international students in the project to experience first-hand the usefulness of consulting expert help for their academic writing, something Dr. Kourbani says will come in handy later when the same students are faced with the challenges of a demanding capstone project.

For Dr. Tolias, the project is not just about tutoring writing. It is also a way, he says, “for participants to interact with our international students, gain insights into their diverse cultures, and broaden their own global perspective as teachers and individuals.” He is convinced that the course can be a “transformative experience” in the MAAL students’ professional journey.

The new project follows on the heels of similar initiatives designed to integrate student support services more seamlessly across campuses and modalities. One such effort is the annual series of spring online workshops and winter onsite trainings that Dr. Tolias conducts with Nashua students on topics such as the University's digital platforms, effective studying, and understanding instructor feedback. In fact, it was during these workshops that Dr. Tolias realized that the students in his sessions would appreciate and benefit from the support writing tutors could provide.

Image: Nashua MBA students at Dr. Tolias’s recent workshop.

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