The TRAC Program: The First Five Years

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Lehigh’s Technology, Research, and Communication (TRAC) Writing Fellows Program -- an integral part of Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning -- recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. In the fall of 2008, the Writing Across the Curriculum Program launched a pilot of the TRAC Program to facilitate effective writing instruction across the curriculum and explore new possibilities for the traditional writing fellows model. Designed by Greg Skutches, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, and Greg Reihman, Director of Faculty Development, in collaboration with LTS instructional technologists and librarians, the TRAC program would recruit and train students to do the peer-tutoring work of conventional writing fellows, but the new initiative set out to test innovative variations by including library and database research, multi-modal communication, and new instructional technologies, together with proactive efforts in faculty development, and a fellows-driven model of organizational leadership.

The program has since grown from 15 to 55 student fellows and become an established presence on campus. TRAC fellows have provided peer-tutoring services for over 4,500 Lehigh students and collaborated with well over 100 members of the faculty in supporting their effort to teach discipline-based writing skills to students across the curriculum. Along the way, the program has taken innovative measures to manage growth and facilitate continual improvement. These measures include leadership within the program in the form of Mentor TRAC Fellows, a peer-coaching initiative, mindfulness training, team-building activities, weekly working groups, regular staff meetings, and an intensive set of assessment protocols.

Improved writing and communication comes from sustained community interaction. TRAC Fellowships offer students exposure to new ways of thinking while providing access to university level teaching experience. As fellows inject new tools, new concepts, or new techniques, the TRAC program simultaneously serves as an engine for faculty innovation. Skutches, who oversees the TRAC program, observes that it has been well received by both students and faculty and anticipates continued growth and improvement in the years to come.