The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Professional Development

Our graduate students enjoy a wide variety of teaching and professional development opportunities.

  • The Writing Program - Graduate students in composition and rhetoric typically teach College Writing or Basic Writing in the UMass Writing Program, winner of the CCCC Program of Excellence Award (2009). Faculty rotate the directorship of the program; Rebecca Dingo is the Program current director.
  • Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP) - The English department maintains an active National Writing Project site (the Western Mass Writing Project). Charlie Moran was the founding site director in 1993; the current director is Anna Rita Napoleone. Graduate students have the option of taking courses that are part of the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing (for an additional fee).
  • Undergraduate writing specializations - The undergraduate program in Professional Writing and Technical Communication, co-directed by Janine Solberg, offers teaching opportunities for 1 or 2 graduate students each year. Faculty (and occasionally advanced graduate students) teach courses in the undergraduate Study and Practice of Writing specialization.
  • The Writing Center - Faculty also direct the University Writing Center which currently employs over 40 tutors and offers over 5,000 sessions a year. Anna Rita Napoleone is the current director.
  • Summer Symposium - The Peter Elbow Symposium provides opportunities for graduate students to connect with visiting scholars.
  • First Year Seminars - Graduate students may apply to teach a topic-driven first year seminar

Resource Center Staff

Resource Center Mentor: Four veteran graduate instructors serve as mentors to new TOs and also work to enhance our teaching community. Resource Staff mentors visit classes of new TOs, are involved in the planning and running of orientation, assist with the Resource Center online database, and attend meetings every other week. Resource Center mentors also teach College Writing. These positions last for one year.

Technology CoordinatorAs a member of the Resource Center Staff, the Technology Coordinator will provide technology pedagogical support to the Writing Program teaching staff in the form of workshops and be available for one-on-one consultations. Like other members of the Resource Staff, the technology coordinator is involved in the planning and running of orientation, assists with the online database, and attends meetings every other week.

Basic Writing & Placement Coordinator and Placement Exam Readers

Basic Writing & Placement Coordinator: The Basic Writing & Placement Coordinator provides support to the Deputy Director in the two separate but related areas of Basic Writing and the writing placement exam. They help to provide teacher training to teachers new to Basic Writing, develop supplementary materials for the Basic Writing curriculum and Moodle template; assist with the development of test questions; co-lead summer placement test reading, and scores placement tests (as needed) during the academic year. In addition to these responsibilities, this Coordinator teaches two sections of Basic Writing during the year for a full TO stipend; a stipend is also provided for work on summer placement testing.

Placement Readers: Placement readers read and score the Writing Program placement test administered to all incoming first-year students through the UMass OWL (Online Web Learning) system before coming to New Students Orientation.

Diversity and Technology Fellows

Diversity Fellows are graduate student TOs who want to explore issues of diversity as they relate to the teaching of composition. During their meetings, Diversity Fellows  discuss relevant scholarship on the issues of diversity and pedagogy, identify areas in the Englwrit 111 or 112 curricula where discussion of diversity would be helpful, and develop an activity or approach related to diversity and to share this with fellow writing TOs.

Technology Fellows, or "Tech Fellows," are graduate student TOs in the Writing Program who engage with questions of teaching writing with technology, both theoretically and practically, through reading, discussion, and hands-on play with technologies.Participation is open to any graduate instructor in the Writing Program regardless of technology experience. In fact, the Tech Fellows program provides a great opportunity for those less familiar with technology to explore the various ways technology can be incorporated into the writing classroom. Fellows participate in meetings led by the Technology Coordinator during the spring semester. 

Writing Center Positions

Writing Center Graduate Writing Tutors: Writing tutors work with writers in 45-minute tutorial sessions, engage in ongoing professional development about writing and writing education, and assist with campus outreach like faculty and instructor workshops.

Writing Center Assistant Director: This is a full-time assistantship that offers hands-on experience in writing program administration and is an opportunity to tutor student writers, provide support for a large staff of undergraduate and graduate student tutors, and participate in the Center's ongoing development. Responsibilities include tutoring student writers, mentoring writing tutors, coordinating the Center's daily activities, maintaining the Center's materials, and engaging in outreach activities.

Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC)

PWTC instructor: This teaching assistantship offers an opportunity for one graduate students each year to teach an upper-level course in professional writing.

Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP)

WMWP Assistantship: an opportunity to work closely with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project Director and Professional Development Coordinator in running the office and planning programming and publicity. Graduate students have the option of taking courses that are part of the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing (for an additional fee).