Information for Mentors for Academics and Writing working with
First-Year Seminars 2010-2011
Overview of First-Year Seminar Resource Team
The First-Year Seminar Program is one of many programs and services administrated and
offered by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research. To enhance the First-Year
Seminar experience for first-year student we assemble and provide “resource teams” for
use by the faculty and students. Most of the faculty teaching a FYS this semester have
requested a “resource team” to work with their class this semester. The “resource team”
A Research Librarian or a Technology Specialist
A Student Mentor for Academics and Writing
The goal of having these resource people available to first-year seminar students is to
allow students to complete a FYS with not only a grasp of the course content, but also
Enhanced writing skills
A thorough understanding of how to utilize resources and information at
Middlebury for researching a paper
Knowledge of how to cite materials correctly
An advanced understanding of and some experience with the potential
uses of technology for presentations and projects
Strong oral presentation skills
Improved time management skills.
The Role of the Mentor
The Mentors will be trained to assist new students with the writing, time management
and classroom speaking skills needed for academic excellence in their studies at
The First-Year Seminar will be the new students’ first encounter with a college writing
course. FYS students must learn to develop their writing beyond that of “high school
writers” to emerge as college writers. This will be one of the critical academic challenges
of their time at Middlebury. As a Mentor, you will assist students with this process of
developing and honing their writing skills. Just as faculty benefit from having their peers
read their work prior to publication, so too, students benefit from having their work read
by peers before it is graded. In both cases, the readers bring their experience as writers—
of the same sort of works--to their experience as critical readers. FYS Mentors can
continue the conversation professors have with their students about writing. Mentors do
not help students with writing in place of the professor but in addition to the professor.
Mentors are trained to be the authorized help for students, to ask probing questions about
the papers they read, and to make positive suggestions for improvement of those papers.
As a Mentor, you will receive paid training from MaryEllen Bertolini, the Supervisor of
the Peer Writing Tutor Program and Associate Director of the College Writing Program.
Many first-year students, also, experience difficulty adjusting to the academic pace and work
load at Middlebury. Time management skills, college level class discussion skills, and
effective oral presentation skills are necessities for new students to master. The first semester
at college is a critical period for students to learn and strengthen all these skills. Competency in
these skills is directly related to academic success and to how well students fulfill their
academic and personal potential at College. The Mentors are trained to be the peer authorized
help for students in these areas. Yonna McShane, the Director of Learning Resources will
provide Mentors with paid training in these academic skill areas.
Mentors will be prepared to work with students in a variety of formats, including one-on-
one work with students, short presentations in class, and small group workshops both
during class time and outside of class. You, in consultation with the professor, will decide
how to work with his/her class. Some professors will ask you to be present for a few of
the classes and to provide or assist in workshops in class. Others will want your
contributions to be in the form of workshops or one-on-one meetings outside of class.
Your faculty member will support this by encouraging or perhaps requiring students to
The goal of the relationship of the Mentor with the FYS is to assist new students beyond
mastery of course content by enhancing skills in writing, time management and
classroom speaking skills needed for academic excellence in their studies at Middlebury.
As a First-Year Seminar Mentor for Academics and Writing you will be joining the many
talented students who work for the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research.
Y. McShane and M.E, Bertolini