Sabrica Barnett served as the Writing Fellow for the Women and Gender Studies (WGS) Program at Hunter
College during the 2010-11 academic year. Working primarily with the WGS 100 Introduction to Gender and
Sexuality Studies and the WGS 201 Classics in Feminist Thought faculty and students, she created and
facilitated several in-class workshops on topics such as developing a research topic and thesis statement,
components of an empirical essay, writing an argumentative paper, and proper use of quotations and citations.
In the spring semester, Sabrica also worked with WGS 310 Senior Seminar: Feminist Theory and Methodology students.
For most students in the seminar, the required 25-page research paper was their first large-scale empirical paper.
Sabrica created worksheets and writing exercises to help students develop a strong research question, conduct literature
searches, and structure their arguments in a compelling and coherent way. Additionally, she provided seminar students with
writing assistance on multiple paper drafts, tutored program students individually during weekly office hours, and consulted
with WGS faculty on the issue of the program's efforts to attain department status.
Sabrica is a Ph.D. candidate in Social/Personality Psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Working as a Writing Fellow afforded her the time to write and defend her dissertation proposal, and begin data collection. Her research investigates the individual- and contextual-level factors that influence monoracial White and Black individuals' perceptions of Black-White biracial people.
As the Freshman Composition (English 120) Writing Fellow during the 2010-2011 academic year, I was tasked with three broad functions: student development, faculty support, and assisting the writing program coordinator, Prof. Trudy Smoke. The beginning of the year was largely spent helping incoming ENGL 120 lecturers, first-time teachers of Composition at the college, with the multiplicity of issues that arise during the first semester of teaching, e.g., syllabus planning, grading, classroom dynamics, handling the occasional case of plagiarism. I met regularly with a core contingent of teachers, with occasional walk-ins by other faculty members. During the Fall, I also gave a series of student workshops on writing issues in conjunction with Kiersten Greene, the Fellow assigned to the Philosophy Dept. In Spring, Kiersten and I shifted our focus more to student development and doubled the number of workshops available, including thirty-minute tutoring sessions at the end of the semester. Throughout the year, I assisted the Writing Program coordinator, answering programmatic e-mails, planning meetings, and helping run end-of-semester norming sessions. Though all three functions had merit, the area where I felt most productive was as a faculty resource for ENGL 120 teachers.
In terms of my own research and career, I had a productive year. I presented four papers, finished the final edits on a journal article published in The Journal of the History of Ideas, and submitted the final draft of another article. I hope to finish the dissertation by early Fall 2011. For both my personal and research development the Writing Fellowship has been immensely helpful.
During the 2010-2011 academic year, I worked with the Thomas Hunter Honors Program (THHP) and the Psychology and Biology programs. My responsibilities included incoming student assessment, development of longitudinal student writing assessment, tutoring, and conducting workshops in the THHP; development of assessment and writing assignments for a writing intensive Experimental Psychology course; and conducting writing workshops for Biology 100 students.
In the context of attending an urban public college, students can find it quite challenging to share their work in a structured format outside of the classroom. Working with the THHP, I introduced a weekly Brown Bag Seminar to address this issue, whereby students were afforded a structured space to share and discuss their work, attend writing workshops, and learn research software. Participating students formed their own peer-based support structures, whereby they shared learning strategies and academic concerns more broadly, establishing a situated culture of learning in and around the space of the Brown Bag Seminar.
My research concerns the political ecology of environmental protection in the bauxite-rich Cockpit Country of central Jamaica. Working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), USAID, The Jamaican Forestry Department, and Cockpit Country residents, I am currently examining the alternatives to the environmentally destructive practices currently employed in bauxite mining in Cockpit Country. My objective is to document and develop an understanding of the relationships among the people at all levels of these programs, their varying conceptions of nature, and their collaboration in the development of livelihood practices promoting a more social and equitable process of sustainable development.
For the past two years I served as the Film & Media Department's Writing Fellow.
I started out as a Fellow for a single professor's film courses in Fall 2009, then expanded my role to serve as the Writing Fellow for the Film & Media Department at large by spring 2010 and continued in that expanded role this last academic year. I held nearly 200 individual tutoring sessions for undergraduate and masters students in production, film and media analysis, and journalism courses, addressing a wide array of concerns, from ESL issues to problems building a strong argument to advice for writing grants. Another major part of my job was to hold in-class workshops tailored to professors' needs for their courses. Topics ranged from note-taking strategies to writing artist statements.
Besides working with students and professors, I helped create the content for an online APA tutorial for the Reading/Writing Center and Hunter Library's websites. I also started a web page on the Film & Media Dept.'s web site to serve as an easily accessible home for materials I created and blog postings of my reflections as a Fellow.
I am pursuing my PhD in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, studying reputation framing through images in support of Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
I am a doctoral student in Urban Education at the Graduate Center, and was placed as a Writing Fellow in the Philosophy Department at Hunter College. I spent most of my time working with students in small workshops, teaching anything from how to answer essay questions on exams to creating and using an annotated bibliography. I also worked with faculty to streamline and rework writing assignments and create evaluative rubrics. In my second year, I was able to interact with faculty who teach English 120, the introductory composition course at Hunter. Many of the students I worked with were enrolled in English 120 while taking the Philosophy course(s) I was working with, as a part of the college's Freshman Block Program. I briefly acted as a conduit between the departments, and it was helpful to see how paired courses overlap and diverge.
As a writing fellow, I made significant changes in the theoretical framework and methodology of my dissertation that would have been impossible without the experience and exposure to pedagogical methods and philosophies that the fellowship made possible. My work takes up issues of education policy and practice in the public schools: Education historians who examine the education policymaking process assert that researchers have been unable to accurately capture the conditions of teachers' work. I believe that blogs written by teachers about their daily work create a new space for listening to/observing these conditions. I am building my dissertation on the ideas that teachers have been historically left out of the policymaking process; the isolation in teaching has further inhibited teachers' abilities to participate in this process; and the internet (specifically, blogging) makes it possible to listen to, understand, and analyze dialogues between teachers about policy that were previously held in spaces unavailable to researchers.
I will miss the weekly meetings with my colleagues at Hunter; they are an incredible group of scholars who have a wide range of knowledge and expertise to share, and I learned so much from them. I appreciated their interest in engaging in a dialogue about public education as a recursive, and communal, project - elementary and high school teachers learn from university faculty, and the opposite is possible as well.
I wish future fellows the best of luck. Happy writing!
Ellen Zitani served as the Writing Fellow for the History Department at Hunter College during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. Working primarily with the American History survey students and students writing their 300 level capstone research papers, she developed a series of workshops on study skills, historiography, developing a research topic and thesis statement, conducting research, writing a research paper, editing, and Chicago style citations. Additionally, Ellen conducted in-class workshops on annotated bibliographies, catching common errors, the mechanics of writing a paper, and how to read challenging texts. She also met with students individually and in groups, providing more individualized guidance. Ellen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her fields of interest include Modern Europe, Modern Italy, and Queer History.