The Duke Reader Project offers Duke students the opportunity to receive feedback on a class writing project from someone outside the classroom setting who has professional experience relevant to their project. This feedback can help students learn to anticipate the needs and expectations of readers, and to revise their writing to make it more effective for the intended audience.
Students in participating courses have the opportunity to be paired with a Duke alumnus/alumna, faculty, or employee who has professional expertise and interest in their writing project. By participating in the Reader Project, members of the broader Duke community can play a direct role in helping our students develop the communication and reasoning skills that are essential for their success in both professional and civic life.
How will the Reader Project benefit your students?
Students often have difficulty imagining how readers will react to their written work since they rarely hear from someone actually trying to make use of what they’ve written. By taking our students’ written work seriously and providing thoughtful feedback, our volunteers help students learn to “write to be read.” We’ve also found that having an interested and respected reader outside the classroom can be a great source of motivation for students.
Who volunteers to be a reader?
We currently have over 400 active readers in our volunteer pool, and the list is growing. Here’s a sample:
Alumni: Students taking an American business history course got to work with a lawyer specializing in immigration, labor and employment litigation, the executive editor of CIO Magazine, a freelance journalist specializing in business, and a lawyer specializing in banking and other financial services. In an economics course on international trade and development, a student writing a paper on former USSR countries got feedback from an alum who helped form businesses in the former Soviet Union and served as chief of mission for the International City/County Management Association office in Kazakhstan, while another student in the course worked with the World Bank’s country program coordinator for Vietnam.
Duke employees: Students in a first-year writing class taking up current issues in diet and nutrition science got feedback on their papers from the Director of the Rice Diet Center, the Director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, and the Associate Director of Graduate Medical Education, among others. Students in a computer science course got comments on a draft of a programmer’s manual from OIT’s Director of Interactive Teaching Resources, the computer support specialist for the Academic Advising Center, and an Associate Dean for Information Technology.