Category: Updates

Welcome to Fall 2014!

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

The start of every academic year always involves new encounters. Students and faculty meet for the first time in classes, many students have new roommates, and many faculty have new colleagues. I think for everyone the anticipation – and uncertainty – is exciting and adds to the buzz around campus when the new semester begins. I always feel the excitement of the new semester when our pre-semester orientation at the University Writing Center takes place the Thursday before classes start. Writing Center Orientation is the

University Writing Center Staff - 2014-15
University Writing Center
Staff – 2014-15

day when I get to meet the new graduate students who will be working as consultants for the coming year. While I know about these new graduate students from what I’ve seen in their application files – where they went to school, for example – I don’t really know them at all. One of the things that is fun about the year ahead is getting to know these people, as people, as tutors, and as scholars. You can take a look at our website to find out about our staff for the coming academic year. It’s what I’ve yet to learn about the new consultants that will be part of what will make my year ahead interesting.

The new consultants all take a graduate course with me on Writing Center Theory and Practice and, through that I know that there are some foundational ideas about teaching writing that they will learn and use during their appointments with students. We talk about the need to work in dialogue with students and not edit their papers for them, for example, and the importance of not just helping students make their current drafts stronger, but also helping the students learn writing skills and strategies that will help with future writing challenges. Yet, while all the consultants are expected to adopt these foundational ideas, I also realize that everyone will develop an individual style as a tutor. Some consultants work quietly, others more effusively. Some consultants develop a talent for instructive metaphors, while others are masters of reaching and reassuring more reticent students. For me, seeing how these different approaches to tutoring develop is always fascinating and enjoyable. The one thing I do know, in meeting our new staff, is that all of the consultants are talented teachers who, grounded in theories of effective writing pedagogy, will provide thousands of UofL students, faculty, and staff with effective feedback and advice on their writing.

So, the University Writing Center is open for the semester. Make your appointment today and meet our great new staff in person.

 

Summertime, and the Planning is Busy

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

During the summer, the pace of things at the University Writing Center does slow, but doesn’t stop. We still see students working on summer courses, or those closing in on finishing their dissertations. We also spend much of the summer planning for the next academic year. One of the big changes we’ve been working this summer is fine-tuning our new, online scheduling system. This new system not only makes it easier for people to make appointments, but also is huge leap forward in making our Virtual Writing Center more effective and easier to use. I’ll be writing more about the scheduling system in the next few weeks, but if you want to see some videos about how to make an appointment or how to use the Virtual Writing Center if you’re a distance education student, you can watch some videos and read more about it on our Appointments page.

The beginning of August also means the beginning of orientations around UofL. We’re grateful to the schools and departments around UofL that invite us to their orientations to talk about the University Writing Center. Last week was the Kent School of Social work, today we’re off to the Health Sciences Campus, and next week we’ll be visiting the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS) orientation and several others. One of our ongoing challenges at the Writing Center is making clear to the campus community who we are and what we do. Everywhere we go, we emphasize that we work with everyone in the UofL community, including all undergraduates, graduate students, and staff and faculty. What’s more, we work with people on any kind of writing – whether for academic work or projects outside of school – at any point in the writing process. If people are just getting started, we can help with ideas and organization, and if they have drafts we can help provide feedback and advice then as well. If it’s writing, and if the writer is part of the UofL community, we’re happy to work on it. For people wanting more details on how we work, we have new Frequently Asked Questions on our webpage or you can read our Mission Statement.

We’ve also been planning our Graduate Student Workshops on Writing Issues, in collaboration with SIGS. If you’re a graduate student and would like to hear more about issues such as how to organize a large writing project such as a dissertation, or how to read and respond to graduate-level scholarship, or how to approach getting published, you can find more information and register for the workshops by visiting the SIGS PLAN website.

Finally, like many other faculty, I’m in the midst of planning my fall courses. This is the time of year we try to remind faculty that we are available to come to their classrooms this fall semester for brief 5-to-10-minute presentations about the University Writing Center. We find that, having one of our consultants come to your class, talk about the Writing Center and answer questions, is one of the best ways we have of reaching out to students at every level and in every discipline. If you want to schedule a classroom presentation, just follow this link. If you want to learn more about how we work with your students in the Writing Center, you can find answers to those questions on our website as well.

Stay tuned for more news about our plans for the coming year. And, enjoy those last warm days of August.

A Year of Success in the University Writing Center

Bronwyn T. Williams

Director, University Writing Center

In the rush to meet deadlines, turn in papers, finish grading, and all the other actions that mark the end of an academic year, we can become so focused on navigating what’s ahead of us that we lose sight of the journey we’ve completed. I always think it’s useful to look back and reflect (no surprise to those who know me). As with every year, the central mission of the Writing Center has been to work with members of the university community to help them become stronger writers. The consultants in the Writing Center have worked with thousands of students, faculty, DSCN1756and staff on everything from dissertations to lab reports to job letters to novels, and have done an amazing job from the first day of fall semester to the last day of this term. In addition to this ongoing teaching of writing, however, this year in particular has been an eventful year at the University Writing Center. It’s worth taking a moment to point to some of the accomplishments, and to talk about what they are going to allow us to do in the future.

Some of what has taken place has been new:

Writing Center Website: In February our new website went online. Not only is it easier to navigate, but we have new material online to help writers. For example, we have links to answer questions about Common Writing Situations faced by both undergraduate and graduate students. We also have up-to-date handouts on everything from strategies for revision, to writing better introductions and conclusions, to issues of grammar and style. We will be continuing to build the website in the common year to add more resources for students and to create resources for faculty writers and about the teaching of writing.

Virtual Dissertation Writing Retreat: We held our first online Dissertation Writing Retreat for distance students in January and plan to have similar events in the coming year.

Writing in the World Art Show: We held our first, juried art show focused on ideas and images about writing. Titled “Writing in the World,” and organized by Gabrielle Mayer in Fine Arts, the show opened as part of the Symposium of Student Writing in March.

“How I Write” Blog Series: Writers as varied as University President James Ramsey, sports blogger Mike Rutherford, professor and Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the School of Medicine Tom Geoghegan, and novelist Brian Leung contributed to our new blog series on “How I Write.” Each writer offered insights into writing processes and tricks and approaches to writing. The series, the brainchild of Assistant Director Ashly Bender, will go on hiatus for the summer but return in the fall.

Some of what happened was the growth of ongoing Writing Center projects:

Writing Center Social Media: Our presence on Twitter and Facebook became more frequent and popular over the past year. And our blog not only brought ideas about writing and Writing Center work to the UofL community, but also connected to writers, teachers, and tutors around the country.

Dissertation Writing Retreats:We will continue to have our popular Dissertation Writing Retreats in the spring and fall semesters at the University Writing Center.

Workshops: Our Writing Center staff conducted a broad range of writing workshops in both courses and for student organizations on issues such as revision, writing a literature review, citation styles, and resume writing.

Finally, in addition to carrying on with these ongoing projects, there will be more changes in the year ahead:

WCOnline Scheduling Software: Starting in May the University Writing Center will move to new scheduling software. This new scheduling software will make it easier for students to make their own appointments online, and make it easier for us to coordinate and work with writers, both in person and online. If you’re planning on coming back to the Writing Center in the fall, take a look in the summer and take a moment to register with the software.

Videos about Writing: We’re planning on creating more videos that respond to student concerns about writing and writing processes.

It has been another strong year at the University Writing Center and I want to thank all the writers who made appointments with us and all the faculty who supported our work by recommending us to their students.

I also want to thank all the amazing Writing Center staff for such a great year. The positive, supporting, and productive work that takes place here, and the transformative effect it can have on students, comes from the thoughtful and dedicated work of our staff.

We will be open during the summer, starting May 12, from 9-4 every weekday. Meanwhile, take a look at our website and we hope to see you soon.


 Writing Center Staff Achievements

The University Writing Center, in addition to its teaching mission, is also an active site of scholarship about the teaching of writing. Staff from the Writing Center were engaged in a number of scholarly projects during the past year in rhetoric and composition, literature, and creative writing.

Jennifer Marciniak, Assistant Director for the Virtual Writing Center, was recognized by the Southeastern Writing Center Association as Graduate Student Tutor of the Year for 2013-14. She will be starting a job with the Writing Center at Berea College this fall.

Ashly Bender, Assistant Director of the Writing Center, published a chapter titled “Exploring Student-Veteran Expectations about Composing: Motivations, Purposes, and the Influence of Trauma on Composing Practices” in the collection Generation Vet: Composition, Student Veterans, and the Post-9/11 University.

Layne Gordon, a consultant, had her article on “Tutoring with Genre: Making Connections Between Genre Theory and Writing Center Pedagogy,” accepted for publication in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal.

And the Writing Center staff presented at a variety of conferences during this academic year.

Ashly Bender – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop

Megen Boyett – Rhetoric Society of America and Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Daniel Ernst – Kentucky Philological Association; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Meghan Hancock -Southeastern Writing Center Association

Jennifer Marciniak – National Conference on Peer Tutoring; Southeastern Writing Center Association

Dan McCormick – Language, Literacy, and Culture Graduate Student Conference; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Jacob Robbins – Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

Adam Robinson – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop

Jessica Winck – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop; Research Network Forum

Rick Wysocki – Language, Literacy, and Culture Graduate Student Conference; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture

This summer Ashly Bender, Jessica Winck, Adam Robinson, and I will be presenting at the Council of Writing Program Administrators conference.

Finally, congratulations go to Megen Boyett and Amy Nichols for completing their MA program and to Amy for being admitted to the UofL Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition.

 

 

 

Writing in the World – New Ways of Imagining Literacy and Language

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

People sometimes think that, on a university campus, you spend all your days with print books and paper – even more so when you work in the University Writing Center. Yet, it doesn’t take long to look around and see that the university is filled with communication happening in so many different modes and media, from words to images to video to sound. This week we had an exciting reminder of how art works as composition and communication with the opening at the Art ShowWriting Center of the student art show titled “Writing in the World.” We had a dozen works from UofL students, all on the theme of “Writing in the World” The theme asked students to represent, through their artwork, how they encountered writing and how writing worked in their daily lives, both on and off campus. The show opened Wednesday to complement the UofL Composition Program’s Symposium of Student Writing and will remain in the Writing Center through the end of the semester.

Some artists, like Peri Crush, worked with the material artifacts of literacy, as seen in her sculpture “Break Through”

“Break Through” by Peri Crush

created from the pages of a book. Other artists drew on the visual representation of words, whether in graffiti as in  Irene Tran’s untitled photograph or Gwen Snow’s dress titled “Egwengwen Ritual Costume.” Some artists made connections to works of literature, such as Katlyn Brumfield’s still life “Poe” and still others played with the slippery nature of language itself, as in the video “Have You Seen the Dog?” a collaboration by ten students.

All the works reminded me  that literacy is simultaneously material and immaterial.

“Egwengwen Ritual Costume” by Gwen Snow

Without the material artifacts of books and pens and paper and computers, we have no reading and writing. Literacy isn’t possible until we create a work that can be interpreted though the sign systems of writing or images. At the same time, literacy is an immaterial concept that requires interpretation and connection, to other life experiences and other texts. Perhaps what the artwork demonstrated most vividly is that literacy is visual. We can not only read written words, but we can also to step back from them to understand how they work aesthetically as form and design.

It was exciting to have so many visitors drawn to the Writing Center to see the artwork, and to vote for their favorite choices. Throughout the day people were talking about the art, and talking about the themes of the show. We presented three awards. The Directors’ Award went to Alexa Helton’s  untitled drawing. The Writing Center Staff Award went to Peri Crush’s “Break Out.” And the People’s Choice award – voted by the people visiting the show — went to “Have You Seen the Dog?”

Our thanks go to Gabrielle Mayer, associate professor of Fine Arts, who organized the show and collaborated with us on the theme, and to all the student artists who contributed work, and whose names are listed at the end of the post.

“Untitled” by Alexa Hilton

At the University Writing Center we are committed to engaging writing and composing in all modes and media and we hope this kind of art and writing show will become an annual event.

If you haven’t seen the art already, do come to the Writing Center, on the third floor of Ekstrom Library, and take a look.

Artists participating in “Writing in the World.”

Yeva Sshurova

Colin Beach

Katlyn Brumfield

“Have You Seen the Dog?”

Brynn Gordon

Kathryn Harrington

Alexa Helton

Beth Heutis

Robyn Kaufman

Colton Kays

Amber Kleitz

Keegan Kruse

Irene Mudd

Renae Osman

Mikayla Powell

Brittani Rosier

Gwen Snow

Irene Tran

UPDATE: Extended Submission Deadline for “Writing in the World” Student Art Exhibit

UPDATE: Submissions will now be accepted until Thursday, March 20th. See details below!

When you walk into our Writing Center, the first thing you will likely notice is UofL student art lining the hallway leading to our consulting area.  Along with the talented student artists who have created this work, we have Art Professor Gabrielle Mayer to thank for this display as she has provided us with this wonderful art for the last two years.

The people who visit and work in the Writing Center love to stop, look, and discuss the art.  Due to the success of our collaboration, Professor Mayer and the Writing Center have come up with a new collaboration.

On March 26th, from 10 AM to 5 PM, the University Writing Center will host a student art exhibition at its Ekstrom location.  The theme for the event is “Writing in the World.”  Any UofL student can submit a 2D, 3D, or video art project that addresses this theme.  This exhibition will be held while another event is going on in Ekstrom: The Symposium of Student Writing.

Since 2009, the Composition Program has put on this event, which is aimed at showcasing the writing projects students are composing in composition classes.  We hope that all UofL community members come by to support both events.

For students interested in submitting art to the exhibition here are the full details:

 Writing in the World:

A Student Exhibition Opportunity in Celebration of Writing

At the University Writing Center we work with all kinds of writing. Students bring their course assignments to us, but also bring their stories, job letters, and other writing that they engage in when they are off campus. We want to celebrate the diversity of writing in the lives of University of Louisville students through the theme of “Writing in the World”

Criteria

All artwork must be original, created by University of Louisville students, and in some manner be inspired by writing in the world.

“Signs guide us through the day, graffiti challenges our views of a city, and notes from friends soothe our pain or make us smile.  We are constantly putting words together to reach out to each other. We text, we tweet, we write research papers and poems. Whatever media we use, writing and reading connect our ideas, dreams, and passions to people in the world around us.”

Two-dimensional artwork must not exceed 26 inches in either dimension.  Works on paper must be framed and all 2D work must have wire on the back for hanging (no sawtooth hangers please).

Three-dimensional artwork must not exceed 30 pounds or 24 inches in any direction.

Video entries (DVD) are accepted but must be delivered (no email entries) to the University Writing Center with submission information -include student name, email address, phone #, artwork title(s), (specify #1 or #2)& length of video- by entry deadline. Please deliver in envelop labeled “Writing in the World Entry.”

Submissions (2D and 3D)

You may submit up to two artworks per student by emailing your submission to g.mayer@louisville.edu.

Submissions must have “Writing in the World entry” in subject line and include student name, email address, phone #, artwork title(s) (specify #1 or #2), medium, and dimensions, in body of email.  Attach artwork file(s) to email.  Artwork file(s) must be jpeg and have artist name and image number in file name.  File size should be no larger than 800 pixels in either direction.   File name example: BobSmith1.jpg

Exhibition Schedule

Entry deadline: 5pm, Monday, March 17 Thursday, March 20th

Notification of selected work: Thursday, March 20

Delivery of artwork: Monday, March 24, 9am – 5pm

Opening: Wednesday, March 26,10-5pm with reception from 12 to 2pm

Artwork pick-up: 9am-5pm, Thur, May 1

“Writing in the World”: A Student Art Exhibition in the University Writing Center

When you walk into our Writing Center, the first thing you will likely notice is UofL student art lining the hallway leading to our consulting area.  Along with the talented student artists who have created this work, we have Art Professor Gabrielle Mayer to thank for this display as she has provided us with this wonderful art for the last two years.

The people who visit and work in the Writing Center love to stop, look, and discuss the art.  Due to the success of our collaboration, Professor Mayer and the Writing Center have come up with a new collaboration.

On March 26th, from 10 AM to 5 PM, the University Writing Center will host a student art exhibition at its Ekstrom location.  The theme for the event is “Writing in the World.”  Any UofL student can submit a 2D, 3D, or video art project that addresses this theme.  This exhibition will be held while another event is going on in Ekstrom: The Symposium of Student Writing.

Since 2009, the Composition Program has put on this event, which is aimed at showcasing the writing projects students are composing in composition classes.  We hope that all UofL community members come by to support both events.

For students interested in submitting art to the exhibition here are the full details:

 Writing in the World:

A Student Exhibition Opportunity in Celebration of Writing

At the University Writing Center we work with all kinds of writing. Students bring their course assignments to us, but also bring their stories, job letters, and other writing that they engage in when they are off campus. We want to celebrate the diversity of writing in the lives of University of Louisville students through the theme of “Writing in the World”

 Criteria

All artwork must be original, created by University of Louisville students, and in some manner be inspired by writing in the world.

“Signs guide us through the day, graffiti challenges our views of a city, and notes from friends soothe our pain or make us smile.  We are constantly putting words together to reach out to each other. We text, we tweet, we write research papers and poems. Whatever media we use, writing and reading connect our ideas, dreams, and passions to people in the world around us.”

Two-dimensional artwork must not exceed 26 inches in either dimension.  Works on paper must be framed and all 2D work must have wire on the back for hanging (no sawtooth hangers please).

Three-dimensional artwork must not exceed 30 pounds or 24 inches in any direction.

Video entries (DVD) are accepted but must be delivered (no email entries) to the University Writing Center with submission information -include student name, email address, phone #, artwork title(s), (specify #1 or #2)& length of video- by entry deadline. Please deliver in envelop labeled “Writing in the World Entry.”

 Submissions (2D and 3D)

You may submit up to two artworks per student by emailing your submission to g.mayer@louisville.edu.

Submissions must have “Writing in the World entry” in subject line and include student name, email address, phone #, artwork title(s) (specify #1 or #2), medium, and dimensions, in body of email.  Attach artwork file(s) to email.  Artwork file(s) must be jpeg and have artist name and image number in file name.  File size should be no larger than 800 pixels in either direction.   File name example: BobSmith1.jpg

Exhibition Schedule

Entry deadline: 5pm, Monday, March 17

Notification of selected work: Thursday, March 20

Delivery of artwork: Monday, March 24, 9am – 5pm

Opening: Wednesday, March 26,10-5pm with reception from 12 to 2pm

Artwork pick-up: 9am-5pm, Thur, May 1

4 Resolutions for Spring 2014

Ashly Bender, Assistant Director

For many people, Ashly_Version_3January is a time for new resolutions, a time to set goals for ourselves over the next 12 months. Our director, Bronwyn Williams, has written in the past about how “new year’s resolutions” for those whose schedules are governed by the school system generally come in August. I fully agree on that count, yet this Spring semester is unique for me. Hopefully by August I will have finished and defended my dissertation—meaning this may be my last semester as a student, in the official sense. Even if I don’t manage this grand feat, this is certainly my last semester at the University Writing Center. A fact I lament, even as I put up a new Texas landscapes calendar next to my desk. Because endings are looming on the horizon, I find that this Spring, more so than those in the past, I’m thinking about the things I hope to see accomplished by myself and others in the coming months.

  1. Most of our tutors will be finishing up their first year of graduate school, and one of them will be graduating. One of the great things about working in the writing center is seeing people grow and learn, and hearing them talk about all the interesting ideas they develop. This is true with our clients and our tutors. So I’m excited to see and hear about all the projects and ambitions for the future our tutors hold.
  2. We are continuing to get more readers and followers on our blog, Twitter, and Facebook. Across our social media, the Writing Center hopes to offer resources and advice for writers at all levels, and also a bit of humor. Also, on our Twitter, we post in the afternoons about upcoming availabilities, something that is especially helpful during mid-semester and finals when we get busy. On our blog, our tutors discuss in more depth about particular writing concerns, habits, practices, and experiences. Also, we’re excited to have our first full semester of our new How I Write series, in which established professionals from a range of fields discuss their writing practices; we’ve already heard from a couple creative writers, an engineering professor, and a law professor. I hope we continue to get more readers, and that our readers spread the word about our sites.
  3. The Writing Center had a record number of appointments last year, and we’re eager to continue serving the diverse UofL population. For many semesters in a row, our number of appointments has been growing. We fill nearly every available appointment, and our Virtual Writing Center is popular as well. Our staff and tutors work hard to be responsive to our clients’ various concerns, and we’re constantly brainstorming ways in which we can be more helpful and available. Our survey results from last semester showed that:In answer to the statement: “My Writing Center consultation addressed my concerns about my writing project,” more than 97% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (72%) or “Agree” (25%).

    In answer to the statement: “What I learned during my Writing Center consultation will help me with future writing projects,” more than 94% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (64%) or “Agree” (30%).

    In answer to the statement: “I plan to use the Writing Center again,” more than 94% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (74%) or “Agree” (20%).

    In answer to the statement: “The Writing Center staff were welcoming and helpful,” more than 97% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (80%) or “Agree” (17%).

  4. Finally, no surprise, I’m looking forward to making progress on my dissertation. Writing a dissertation can be a difficult, circuitous, and sometimes just overwhelming task. Working with other graduate students in the Writing Center—at the Dissertation Writing Retreat and otherwise—has helped me to understand this process better and to just keep trying new strategies when I’m feeling stuck. Still, as with any large project, the process is marked by ups and downs. Thus, one of my major goals is to keep myself working and progressing toward my defense and being able to call myself “Doctor.”

As your Spring begins, what sorts of goals (or resolutions, if you prefer) are you hoping to achieve over the next few months? Over the next year? At the Writing Center, we are versed in developing processes, strategies, and plans for tackling writing projects, and we’re not only happy but eager to work with you on those projects. Together we can achieve our goals for this semester, this year, this/these projects.

Graduate Students: We’re Here to Help You With Your Coursework, Too!

Meghan Hancock, Assistant Director for Graduate Writing

Here at the U of L Writing Center, we work with a lot of graduate students on their master’s theses or dissertations.  These are always fun for us, as they give us the chance to not only hone our own skills in helping students with larger projects, but also the chance to learn about the up and coming research of U of L graduate students across the disciplines.

You don’t have to wait until you’re working on your culminating project, though (and in this context I’m talking about master’s theses or dissertations), to come to us as a graduate student.  The writing you do during your coursework can be challenging as well, and we’re here to help!

hancockAs a fellow graduate student myself, I know how difficult coursework can be.  We’re often juggling coursework with responsibilities as TA’s teaching several courses at once, with our work as research assistants, with our time in a work-study position, or sometimes even balancing coursework with a full time job while taking care of our families.  In other words, we have a lot on our plates.  Finding the time, then, to dedicate to weekly seminar course preparation as well as the time needed to research and write toward a seminar paper due at the end of a semester can be difficult.  Not only this—sometimes (when you’re a new graduate student especially) you might be encountering some of the writing genres expected of you for the first time.  I remember, for instance, how lost I felt when I had to write my first seminar paper.  Was it the same as the research papers I had to do as an undergraduate, or were there differences that I didn’t know about?

This is where consultants at the Writing Center can help.  We’re familiar with those genres.  Your coursework (while often thought of as something to get out of the way before you begin your degree’s culminating project) is the time when you learn how to write within your discipline and enter the scholarly conversation others in your field have begun.  Coming to the Writing Center to work on things like seminar papers, then, might give you some insight on your writing as a graduate student that will help you when it comes time to write your thesis or dissertation.   Many of the elements of a typical seminar paper, like a short review of relevant scholarship, critical engagement with sources, and a semi-original argument that contributes to your chosen field in some way, will also be expected in your thesis or dissertation.  It helps to start working on these skills sooner rather than later.  In other words, it’s never too late to try the Writing Center if you’re a graduate student!

Looking Forward – and a Last Look Back – As We Get Ready For a New Year in the Writing Center

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director, University Writing Center

When I talk about working in the Writing Center to new consultants at our orientation, I make the point that the work we do has to be grounded in an ethic of care, an ethic of service, and respect for students. I never feel like this is a hard sell – people who didn’t already feel this way don’t usually apply to work in a Writing Center – and this year was no exception. After a day of conversation with the new group of consultants, I realized that they were all deeply committed to these ideas when they walked through the door.

DSCN1670
2013-14 UofL Writing Center Consultants

Working in a Writing Center is always a matter of striking balances. You need to listen to students and ask questions that help them discover for themselves how best to   improve their writing, while not withholding expertise and advice that will give them insights on how to revise their work. You need to be patient and not rush writers in a session, but you also can’t waste time and not get anything accomplished. You need to attend to the concerns writers identify during a session, but also bring up other issues you see in their work. You need to be friendly and reassuring, but also professional and honest. What struck me about the new group of consultants at our orientation was how quickly they identified these issues of balance on their own, and the productive conversation we began about how best to draw on these various qualities when working with students.

DSCN1662
Writing Center Orientation

A number of our new consultants come to us already having worked in other writing centers or as teachers, and all of them have the talent and enthusiasm necessary to be effective writing teachers. They bring a diverse set of interests and backgrounds to their work. Yet all of the new consultants understand, from the beginning, that our goal in the Writing Center is to not only help students with their immediate writing projects, but also help them develop skills and strategies writers that will benefit them throughout their university lives and beyond. Some of the new consultants are native Louisvillians, while others come from places including California to Virginia to Georgia. We talked at orientation about the ways that the Writing Center works with all writers in the UofL community – students, faculty, and staff – on any writing project, at any point in the writing process. I left orientation excited about the year ahead and confident that UofL writers will gain a great deal from visiting the Writing Center this year.

A Last Look Back

While late August is always a time of excitement as the new academic year begins, it also is a moment when we can take a last look back at the year we just completed. We had an exceptional year at the Writing Center, thanks to a great group of consultants and assistant directors and especially thanks to the work of Associate Director Adam Robinson.

A few of the highlights of the 2012-13 academic year were:

 Writing Center Consultations: The Writing Center had a successful year of more than 5,400 consultations on the Belknap and Health Science Campuses and through our Virtual Writing Center. This was a 10 percent increase in visits over the previous academic year.

 Exit Survey Results: Our exit survey indicated a high level of satisfaction with the Writing Center, by both quantitative and qualitative measures. Highlights of the survey are:

  •  In answer to the statement: “My Writing Center consultation addressed my concerns about my writing project,” more than 96% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (70%) or “Agree” (26%).
  •  In answer to the statement: “What I learned during my Writing Center consultation will help me with future writing projects,” more than 92% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (64%) or “Agree” (28%).
  •  In answer to the statement: “I plan to use the Writing Center again,” more than 96% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (78%) or “Agree” (18%).
  •  In answer to the statement: “The Writing Center staff were welcoming and helpful,” more than 97% of respondents selected “Strongly Agree” (78%) or “Agree” (19%).
DSCN1616
Writing Center Orientation

 Presentations and Workshops: During the academic year, Writing Center staff conducted 75 in-class workshops on writing issues (and increase of 51 over 2011-12) and 76 presentations about our services (an increase of 15 over 2011-12).

Dissertation Writing Retreats: The Writing Center held two Dissertation Writing Retreats during the spring and summer of 2013. In the May retreat, funded by SIGS, 14 Ph.D. students representing four different colleges and nine different disciplines spent a week in the Writing Center working on their dissertations. In July the Writing Center collaborated with College of Education to hold a retreat on three consecutive Saturdays, in order to provide opportunities to graduate students from that college who work full-time jobs. Nine students took part in this retreat.

 Assistant Director for Graduate Student Writing/Health Sciences Campus: In Fall 2012, the Assistant Director for Graduate Student Writing was established. This full-time GTA position (20 hours/week) is dedicated to the support of graduate students, paying particular attention to the needs of international graduate students on both the Health Sciences and Belknap Campuses.

 Writing Center Blog and Social Media: The Writing Center Blog, to which all members of the staff contribute posts during the year, was viewed more than 5,000 times in 2012-13.  In addition, the number of visits to our Facebook page and our Twitter account have both grown substantially during the past year.

 Campus Outreach: Writing Center staff worked with a number of University programs, giving presentations and conducting workshops. These programs included the Porter Scholars, A&S Advising, UofL Athletics, the Career Center, the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program, Family Scholar House, the Delphi Center, E.S.S.E.N.C.E, Housing and Residence Life, First Year Initiatives, the Dental School, Student Affairs, Information Technology,TRIO, Ekstrom Library, and the International Center.

Now, to Look Forward

The accomplishments of the past year are things that we’re eager to repeat – and build on – in the year to come. We’re all eager for the year to get started and to work with all writers in the UofL community.

Taking a Moment to Revel in Spring Success

Ashly Bender, Assistant Director

Ashly_Version_3It’s the last day of Spring 2013. We’ve made it! Well, in few hours we will have made it. If you’re like me, you’re already planning and getting anxious about what summer holds, thinking about how you’re going to balance play and work. As enticing as summer can be and as much as we may be anxious to move forward, the end of the semester is a good time to realize what we’ve accomplished in the past four months. Like many of the clients we see, the Writing Center staff have seen their hard work pay off this semester. We’ve seen our numbers rise across the board, we’ve enriched our outreach, and we’ve broadened the ways in which we can help people during sessions.

The Writing Center uses two main measurements to gather insight into our activity for the semester. First, after each session, clients receive a survey that aims to highlight what was helpful or not about the appointment, as well as giving their overall sense of the effectiveness of the Writing Center. We also calculate the number of appointments and clients we see each semester. The numbers this Spring are very positive. We haven’t calculated official counts for the combined Belknap campus, Health Sciences campus, and Virtual Writing Center, but just on the Belknap campus we have seen 770 students for approximately 1750 different appointments.  In addition, the Virtual Writing Center has been nearly full all semester, so we’re expecting even more impressive numbers. Further, our second Dissertation Writing Retreat—which we are very excited to offer again this year—had more than double the applicants as last year.

Our social media outreach has also broadened this semester. The number of visitors to our blog (thank you, readers!) has steadily grown—reaching over 500 in February and April. Similarly, our Facebook page has been active and well-received. Each of our posts are seen by about 50 people, sometimes reaching into the hundreds. Our Twitter, which we started this semester, has also been successful. We are very grateful for the support we’ve had in these spaces and look forward to growing success.

While I am especially proud of the social media numbers (that’s my project), perhaps one of the most exciting things we’ve done this semester is pushed ourselves to incorporate some non-traditional tools to help us and writers in appointments. Namely, the Writing Center purchased and began using iPads in some of our consultations, depending on their usefulness for the particular session. While we’ve written about our new iPads before, it has been exciting to have apps and web support at our finger tips rather than sitting at a large distracting computer or flipping through dictionary pages to find the spelling or precise meaning of a word. (Although, I’ll admit I advocate for the page-turning method myself.)

As we close our doors today on Spring 2013, these are just a handful of the successes the Writing Center has seen as a whole. In addition to these, our consultants have earned individual successes over the year, including completing their first year of the English Master’s program. We’re proud and grateful to have had them here for a little while, and we wish them luck (which they certainly don’t need) as they begin teaching in the Fall.

And, dear readers and clients, never fear—we return May 13th for Summer 2013! See you then.