The Writing Center at the JLC offers writing support to all SHU students in close cooperation and collaboration with faculty. Our mission is to help students develop as critical thinkers, readers, and writers. Using the principles of self-directed learning, Writing Center tutors empower students to take charge of their writing process and develop as confident, autonomous learners.
Working with Students
Writing Center tutors apply the principles of self-directed learning by:
- Inviting each student to set short- and long-term goals.
For example, a tutor may ask a student, "What do you want to accomplish today?" or "Do you want to focus on mechanics, thesis development, or documentation?" Or, a tutor may invite a conversation about the student's goals by suggesting, "Talk to me about your priorities for this assignment." The tutor may propose that the student set aside a regular time to meet and work on a series of short assignments or on a multi-stage assignment or longer project.
- Encouraging each student to identify his or her best learning style.
Tutors help students develop an understanding of their cognitive processes by asking questions such as, "How can I best help you on this assignment?" and "What kind of feedback in this session will be most useful to you?" Tutors have the training and experience to read students' reactions to their feedback and to respond to each student's needs. For example, tutors may suggest auditory strategies, such as reading aloud; visual strategies, such as graphic organizers; or kinesthetic strategies, such as writing in longhand.
- Demonstrating tried-and-true strategies that help students develop the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills they need to become autonomous, lifelong learners.
Tutors help students write more effectively by, for example, learning to read closely. A tutor may encourage a student to use an active reading strategy such as SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, Write, Recite, Review) or ask the student to read aloud, highlight key concepts from a text, or paraphrase an author's thesis.
- Helping students stay focused on assignment objectives.
While Writing Center tutors encourage students to take charge of their writing process, their role is to help the student tackle an assignment according to the assignment guidelines and objectives set out by the course instructor. If a student is unclear on the purpose and goals of the assignment, the tutor will encourage the student to contact the instructor.
- Summarizing the session's work, articulating the takeaway for the student, and discussing next steps.
Tutors help each student leave a Writing Center session with a sense of accomplishment and with the confidence that the student can take charge of the assignment. By sharing with students effective tools that they can apply to their writing assignments, Writing Center tutors aim to increase each student's self-confidence. The Writing Center thereby empowers students and inspires them to invest in their own intellectual development.
- Addressing and incorporating into tutorials the emotional components of learning, including memory, attention, anxiety, and time management.
Tutors recognize that learning does not occur in a vacuum. Addressing a student's anxieties or fears and helping the student stay organized, on task, focused, and positive are part of the learning process.
Working with Faculty
The Writing Center works closely with faculty to help SHU's students succeed in their coursework and fulfill their intellectual, social, ethical, and professional potential. To this end, the Writing Center invites faculty to request writing workshops for particular classes that focus on a topic (e.g., research writing and documentation; thesis development); text(s) (e.g., how to apply critical reading strategies to a challenging text); or assignment (e.g., a research paper or argumentative essay). The Writing Center offers workshops either in the JLC (at the Student Success Center) or in the classroom.
Faculty may also suggest that a student or group of students make an appointment at the Writing Center to work on on a particular assignment or on a specific topic or area of need (e.g., mechanics).
The Writing Center works closely with Ryan Matura Library staff to incorporate information literacy into one-on-one writing support sessions and workshops. An instructor may request combined Writing Center-library support for students working on a paper with a research component. Writing Center and library staff can tailor a workshop for students working on a particular project.
The Writing Center offers students an online support service (OWL), through which students can receive feedback on their assignments by email. The OWL tutors employ, as much as possible, the same principles of self-directed learning used in one-on-one tutorials.
Writing Center Goals
The Writing Center's mission is dynamic. The Writing Center seeks to respond to the changing needs of the student body, the faculty, and the academic community by continually developing appropriate programs. To this end, the Writing Center's goals include:
- Develop online workshops to be archived for student access.
- Continue regular outreach to faculty across the curriculum.
- Respond to the writing support needs of professional programs such as business and health sciences.
- Continue to support incoming freshmen to transition to the demands of college-level writing.
- Expand support across the student body, including undergraduate and graduate students and online students.
- Continue to develop the Writing Center staff's pedagogical proficiency and knowledge.
- Continue to work with the Ryan Matura library to develop students' access to, understanding of, and facility with information sources.