Tutor program at Penn State Behrend helps STEM students learn writing skills

Local News

Science and technology students at Penn State Behrend have inspired a tutoring program to help with writing skills.

The program, Watts, is providing those students with the proper skills in majors like engineering.

The Watts Program, which has been helping STEM students since 2011, continues to grow at Behrend and is making its way to other universities.

Writing Assignment Tutor Training in STEM, otherwise known as Watts, has been shortening the path to success for science and technology students since 2011.

“We knew we had something that was really valuable and the tutors became very enthusiastic about it, so we continued the project and we started writing papers and presenting it at conferences,” said Ruth Pfleuger, director, Learning Resource Center.

The National Science Foundation supporting the project with a $588,000 grant for the next three years.

“We’re doing all the statistical, the data collection, in a variety of different courses with the intention of reapplying for the additional grant. That would enable us to disperse this method, the Watts Method, among other universities,” said Pfleuger.

The Watts Program gives tutors the ability to help STEM students.

“Watts helped me become more social and push myself out of my comfort zone, because I was meeting people that were different from me — I was a humanities major, so I was more passion and they were more logic,” said Anabella Lassiter, LRC Program Coordinator.

Now, Watts educates tutors to proofread students Capstone projects in the plastics engineering technology program.

“At first it’s extremely intimidating. They just enforced a new rule for the senior report that they have to be 10 pages, but before they could be as long as the student needed it to be. The longest paper I ever had was 50 pages, and getting lost in 50 pages of terminology and jargon… it’s intimidating to say the least, and it can be a little difficult,” said Lassiter.

The success at Penn State Behrend bringing the program to new heights at universities across the country such as Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University at Columbus and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

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