Mostly, it’s conversation. This might seem surprising, but it is conversations about writing that help us become better writers over time. You will work one-on-one with a writing center consultant who will ask you a lot of questions about your assignment, what you want to accomplish in the paper, the work you have done on it so far, the due date, and your concerns about the work so far. We ask these questions because they often help you clarify your own goals and intentions for the paper, and that helps us know what to look for as we read the paper with you.
When you come into the center for a face-to-face session, you or the consultant will read your paper aloud focusing on feedback rather than correction. Reading aloud, we often hear things that we wouldn’t see when reading silently. Reading aloud also helps catch overly long sentences, strange rhythms, and repeated words. You may be surprised at how much it helps to hear what you’ve written. As the paper’s read, we listen for ways of improving the writing–ways to make it say what you want it to say as clearly and effectively as possible.Feel free to stop along the way to discuss possible changes.
We ask that you bring a printed draft of your paper with you so you can take notes on the paper itself. Since consultants don’t write on papers, this will help you remember the topics you’ve discussed, and you may find that these notes make reworking the text much easier.
Our Online Writing Center (OWC) has many similarities to our face-to-face center, but it obviously has some critical differences as well. Through your iSpartan email account, you will be able to share your paper with a consultant. As you are both reviewing the text, you and the consultant will begin a conversation over the phone about your writing. The most important part of your online session is… dialogue!
Though it might seem like you will be sending your paper into us to “fix,” instead we are merely engaging in a conversation about your writing through the media of Google Docs and the phone. Your consultant will ask you many questions about your writing, asking you to explain your ideas, expand on areas in your paper that might need developing, or help clarify passages that seem unclear. While we encourage you to stay focused on the conversation by refraining from “editing” the paper in the moment of the session, you are welcome to take notes as you and your consultant talk about your work, or to use the highlighting feature in Google Docs to mark particular areas you’d like to return to after your conversation with the consultant.
In both the terrestrial and virtual centers, our goal is to help you feel ready to tackle the next step in writing or revising your paper, whatever that step may be. Whether it needs reorganization, a polished argument, a clearer thesis, more scholarly sources, or smoother transitions, you and your consultant will identify and prioritize the issues that need to be addressed. As always we encourage you to allow plenty of time between your first Writing Center visit and the paper’s due date, so you will have the freedom to revise as necessary.
One last point: Writing Center consultants are here to help, but they have a different role from teachers. You wouldn’t want them to anticipate your instructor’s response to your writing or to judge either the accuracy or the quality of your paper’s content. While it’s up to you to ensure that your content is doing what it needs to do, we are here to help you write your best.
Here’s a quick look at some information about the Writing Center: