What to Expect

Probably the best way for you to think about what we do in the writing center is to think of us as partners in the teaching of writing, whether that teaching is happening in the disciplines or in a writing course. Sometimes instructors are surprised to learn that students who use the Writing Center don't necessarily hand in perfect papers. In part that is so because our aim in the Writing Center is focused much more closely on the writer and her writing processes than on the particular product she may be producing at any point in time. In other words, we're mostly focused on helping students to become better writers. We don't want to do-for writers, but to help writers learn more about the kinds of choices they have available to them. In the Writing Center, the writing you assign becomes the text over and through which we teach writers to think as writers think. That is, we want to help student-writers to be more sophisticated in making choices that are appropriate to the rhetorical contexts in which they are writing whether those choices have to do with structure, organization, voice, argument, the use of source material, revision strategies, or copy-editing strategies. Our work looks, then, less like doing-for and more like teaching-with. We're modeling, advising, questioning, critiquing, listening, and mentoring student-writers.

Part of what we know is that students won't learn all of this all in one place; they won't learn everything they need to know about writing in any one classroom or during any one semester. Their learning will be cumulative and distributed. We're also pretty sure that student-writers do see positive short-term benefits to their work in the writing center. Much in the same way that students who write as they are learning retain more, learn more deeply, students who talk over their writing as they write, tend to produce more thoughtful writing and to be more attentive to detail as they write.

In addition to working with student-writers, there are a number of ways we can partner with you. If you are interested in teaching with writing and have questions about how to do that, we can work with you. If you are interested in how students make use of feedback on their writing and how to maximize the effectiveness of the feedback you give to student-writers, we can work with you. If you are interested in writing assignment design, we can help you with that too.