Dr. Kathryn Tucker is the newly-hired Writing Center Director and Assistant Professor of English Rhetoric and Composition here at NSC. Dr. Tucker and her staff of six Peer Writing Specialists are building up the Writing Center this semester and have big plans for the future.
Dr. Tucker says a few years ago, students could receive help with writing through the Student Academic Center (now the Academic Success Center) with English 100, 101, and 102, or paper formatting for other courses. Now, the role of the Writing Center is changing. The job description for tutors presently includes ongoing training, mock tutorials and reading about writing centers, among other things. Dr. Tucker also changed the title of workers from Writing Tutor to Peer Writing Specialist.
Dr. Tucker and Peer Writing Specialist Tyler Kaplan just returned from the International Writing Center Association and National Conference on Peer Tutoring of Writing joint conference in Florida. They presented a poster titled “Helping Writing Center Stakeholders Imagine the Thesis,” part of a research collaboration with the Director of the Writing Center and the peer writing tutors at Scripps College in Claremont, CA.
Tyler is one of six Peer Writing Specialists currently employed by the Writing Center. Five of those students are English or English Education majors, and one is a Math Education major. Dr. Tucker is interested in hiring writers from all disciplines. Writing is something that happens across the curriculum. It’s not limited to [specific] courses, she said.
The Writing Center offers assistance to all students, throughout every stage of the writing process. Whether students need help brainstorming ideas, developing an outline, proofreading, etc., Dr. Tucker says the Writing Center is there to help. There are three locations for the Writing Center, she said. The daily schedule varies at each location, but students can find someone available in at least one location, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Those locations are: room 125 in the LAS building, room 104 in the Dawson building and the Basic & Water library.
Peer Writing Specialists work with students in 30-minute sessions, during which the specialist and the student engage in conversation about the student’s writing. The specialist looks at the student’s writing and works with the student on whatever the student requests. [As writers] getting feedback from real readers on what we’re doing is priceless, Dr. Tucker said.
Dr. Tucker feels that the one-on-one tutoring is a start but has many goals for Peer Writing Specialists; she would like the specialists to do undergraduate research, participate in conferences, offer workshops on various subjects, such as grammar, and give presentations in classrooms. Classroom presentations and other services provided by the Writing Center, she believes, could accompany the professor’s instruction. The Writing Center is not meant to replace it’s meant to enhance, provide resources and supplement, she said. It’s really a collaborative endeavor.
Many of the ideas and plans for the NSC Writing Center stem from Dr. Tucker’s research, and her previous experience with writing centers. She started working in a writing center as an undergraduate student at Occidental College. After receiving her Ph.D., she became a faculty writing advisor. One of the benefits of a writing center is that you have built-in readers people who will always be invested in helping you convey your message as clearly as possible, Dr. Tucker explained. She joined the NSC team because she says it put her in an ideal position, as she is able to combine two of her passions: teaching English and running a Writing Center. She enjoys interacting with the students and believes that Writing Centers play a major role in the learning process, especially at such a diverse school like NSC. Writing centers are particularly important in a place where you have so many discourse communities come together, she said.
According to Dr. Tucker, writing tutoring was very underutilized in the Spring 2014 semester. Around 400 students came in for English or paper formatting, out of the thousands of students enrolled at the college. Dr. Tucker encourages the student body to take advantage of the Writing Center and its services. She feels it plays a vital role in helping students see a bigger picture in their writing and getting a sense of mastery and control over their work.
The National Day on Writing was October 20, 2014. To celebrate, the Writing Center and the English department decorated the LAS building with large sheets of butcher paper, inviting students to share their writing, especially related to this year’s theme, Write My Community. Chair of the Humanities department, Dr. Gregory Robinson, says he was proud and impressed by student participation in this project. He and Dr. Tucker want students to embrace the art of writing, regardless of style, skill level or experience. I think it’s important to realize that there isn’t one right way to write, Dr. Tucker stated. It’s not that one way is correct, and the other isn’t. It’s a matter of context.
The Writing Center is currently hiring specialists and offering drop-in sessions for tutoring services. To work with a Writing Specialist at the Writing Center, drop by LAS 125, DA 104D, or BW2 Library or visit Nscwritingcenter.com. To become a Peer Writing Specialist for the Spring semester, call (702) 992-2990.