These days, college/university tutoring centers have become very popular. In an effort to equip students for success in their studies, college administrators are allotting money to establish tutoring centers. While a school may offer tutoring for all subjects, the writing center has begun to be a separate, functioning site. Liberal arts institutions are especially interested in building the writing skills of students in every field of study. In the following article, you will find some necessary factors to remember when getting a writing center off the ground.
First of all, you must make room in the budget for a qualified, educated coordinator. While the responsibilities of this person may differ depending on the school size, it is important that the coordinator has previous writing tutoring experience and seasoned writing skills. He or she must be willing to research and visit other established writing centers in an effort to learn from their successes and failures. Information on this subject is rampant in the field of academia, and it would not hurt to become a member of the International Writing Centers Association, which can be accessed through www.writingcenters.org. Through this membership, the coordinator can browse through helpful materials that provide excellent information concerning pedagogy, writing center theory, and various resources.
If the budget allows for hiring student tutors, the coordinator should formally interview each candidate to ensure that the hired tutors exhibit the necessary skills- both intellectual and social. If the student knows the technicalities of writing but is lacking social awareness, the coordinator may want to reconsider him or her as a potential tutor. Once the student tutors are hired, a training period should take place. The student tutor should be presented a packet full of information, including administrative-level responsibilities, writing tutoring do’s and don’ts, mock scenarios, and the like. A regular evaluation of each tutor should be the coordinator’s priority. Providing writing assistance is a unique process, and the student tutor must be aware that a high level of attentiveness is required so that ethical guidelines remain intact.
Prior to offering this service to the campus, the coordinator should confirm that adequate space has been acquired for individual tutoring sessions. It is important that a quiet environment is established; as with any tutoring session, one distraction could easily disrupt both the tutor and writer.
Once your tutors are in place, begin advertising the writing center throughout the campus. Create a writing center logo and be creative in methods of spreading the word. Distribute posters, flyers, pens, pencils, etc. in every campus building. It is helpful for either the coordinator or tutors to visit classes to give a small presentation on the services offered by the writing center.
As the writing center becomes established, you can require students to fill out anonymous surveys at the end of their tutoring sessions. This will help to improve and refine the writing center operations as a whole. These surveys can also serve as a tool for assessing problem areas in the writing process. By knowing the common struggles students have when writing, the tutors can be more prepared to address those issues.
In time, it would be helpful to build a small library for your student tutors. Obtain writing style guides, dictionary/thesaurus, and writing skills assessments; these can really come in handy during the writing tutoring session. Lastly, your tutors can create handouts focused on every stage of the writing process, word usage, and many other subjects related to academic writing in general. After proofing these handouts, the coordinator can offer these to all students in the university.
Obviously, there are many other factors involved in starting a college or university writing center. At the very least, having credible tutors, marketing tools, and an efficient space for tutoring sessions will help to get the ball rolling.