Tag: virtual tutoring

Writers & Consultants: Meeting in a Virtual World

By: Amber Yocum

Today marks the third week of the semester and so much of how we operate – as a university, as a writing center, as faculty, staff, students, and humans  –  has changed and continues to change as everyone adapts to different teaching and resource modalities.

This semester, along with many other university resources like REACH, the Career Center, and the Counseling Center, we decided to offer virtual appointments in order to keep you and our staff safe. Admittedly, it’s been difficult for us because seeing you as individuals and writers and getting to interact and collaborate with you in-person is one of the aspects of writing center culture we value so much.

Our goal this fall is to ensure that you, as writers and members of the university community, do not lose that connection. And to continue to assist you with your writing and writing processes in ways that reflect our consultants’ commitment to provide individualized feedback.

Whether you visit the Writing Center one time or multiple times over the course of your academic and professional careers, our consultants are here to learn about you as writers and people, as well as to help you with your writing. So much of their own academic and professional experiences, as well as interests, contribute to that process. As you navigate how to adjust to a more virtual environment, we hope that you take the time to get to know our consultants whose aims are the same as if we were meeting you in-person: to listen and to help you become a better writer.



Maddy Decker

Writing Tip: “Write with the mindset of telling a story, even if you’re working on something like a research paper. Finding the story you are telling is often an approachable way to work through your own thinking, and it can help you make sure that your reader will follow the argument and reasoning in your writing.”

Madelaine “Maddy’ Decker is interested in producing fiction as well as researching topics related to 18th century literature and African American literature. She earned her BA in English and Anthropology from the University of Kentucky. Her favorite book is The Thief Lord, and her outside interests include knitting, Irish archaeology, 2010’s pop punk, and the Muppets.

Amanda Dolan

Writing Tip: “Try not to make unreasonable rules about what your process should look like or how long a piece of writing should take you to finish.”

Amanda Dolan is a second year MA student whose research interests include memory, literature and other art forms, and the syncretization of myth. Prior to her return to academia, she worked in education research.

Shelbi “Chuck” Glover 

Writing Tip: “Just start writing. you can always improve it later, but if you spend all of your energy worrying that it will be bad, you’re cheating yourself.”

Chuck Glover completed her BA in English at the University of Louisville. Her academic interests include creative writing, screenwriting, and the study of feminist, socialist, and LGBT literature. Her favorite TV shows are King of the Hill and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and her favorite movies are Parasite and Gone Girl.

Ian Hays 

Ian views language as the practical analogue to conceptual expression, and, while working toward his degree, hopes to expand his understanding of the relationship between rhetoric and world view. His interests include low-fiction, creative non-fiction, and identity as defined in a media saturated age. Outside of university, Ian enjoys biking, hiking, and writing essays on contemporary culture; as well conversations with everyday people throughout whichever community he finds himself in.

Andrew Hutto

Writing Tip: ‘Write every day. Even if it is just a few lines, the practice will pay dividends.”

Andrew received his BA in English from the University of Louisville. His critical research focuses on 17th-century British literature as well as René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire. Presently he serves on the Pine Row Press editorial board. His poetry appears in Thrush Poetry Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Math Magazine, Poet Lore, High-Shelf Press, Twyckenham Notes, and elsewhere.

Ayaat Ismail

Writing Tip: “After getting the assignment and starting your writing process (whatever that might be) jot down all the thoughts you have forming in your head on to the paper. I say this because it is astonishing how many of those quick ideas will become improved concepts later in your paper.”

Ayaat received her BA in English from the University of Louisville. Her interests are in sociolinguistics and British Literature with a focus in feminism and social class. Her love of language was developed at a young age having been raised in a bilingual household. She is from Chicago, Illinois and loves watching baseball as an avid Cubs fan, and spends the rest of her free time reading and writing.

Zoë Litzenberg

Writing Tip: “Your best friend in the writing process is time. There are a few exceptions, but in general more time you spend on a project (and the sooner you start it!), the less stressful it is to work on it and the better your work ends up. Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t know where to start; that’s where talking with a friend or visiting the writing center to flesh out your ideas is a great use of time!”

Zoë, a San Diego native, is joining the Writing Center with a background in Humanities and Creative Writing. A true enthusiast for all facets of academia, Zoë loves how the writing process can empower and embolden any student of any discipline to be more effective in their field. Right now, her research interests include children’s literature, the pedagogy of leadership, the writing theory for the student-athlete. When not in the Writing Center, Zoë is probably working out, dancing, watching movies, laughing, or doing all of four at the same time.

Demetrius Minnick-Tucker

Demetrius hales from Atlanta, GA and received his undergraduate degree from Boyce College. He loves reading the literature classics and played college basketball. Friendships are really important to him. His favorite event in Louisville is attending summer-time Shakespeare in the Park plays. His favorite books are the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. His favorite line in poetry is from George Herbert: “Love Bade Me Welcome/ Yet guilty of dust and sin I drew back.”

Spenser Secrest

Writing Tip: “Do not doubt yourself, as even the best writers need to edit and revise their works.”

 Spenser is from Lancaster, PA and received a BA in English with a history minor from McDaniel College in 2019. While at McDaniel, he served as an editor for both the college’s newspaper and literary magazine. His areas of interest include modernism, 20th Century American literature, and Marxism, with an emphasis on cultural hegemony. Outside of the classroom he enjoys reading, creative writing, hiking, and binge watching movies on Netflix.


Emma Turner 

Writing Tip: “Try to invest yourself in whatever you are writing about. Whether you love or hate the topic, find a way to connect to it so it’s more than just an assignment.”  

Emma received her BA in English and Women’s and Gender Studies from Lindsey Wilson College in May 2020. From 2018-2020, Emma served as a peer Writing Center Consultant in the Writing Center at her undergraduate institution and began to develop an ever-growing writing pedagogy. During this same time, Emma published several papers in undergraduate research journals on topics ranging from Greek literature, Wuthering Heights, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and Dolly Parton. Her research interests have continually been a mixed bag; however, she always loves what she is studying.


Tutoring Online

Adam Robinson, Associate Director

I was reading back through our blog, thinking about what to write, and I realized that we haven’t talked about our Virtual Writing Center (VWC). Established in 2004 by Carol Mattingly, Chris Ervin, and Chris Carter, the VWC has undergone many changes over the years. But the basic structure has stayed the same. Writers visit our website, fill out an electronic request form, and either ask to meet with a consultant in a live chat or receive feedback via e-mail. Just like in our physical WC, our VWC consultants work with any U of L writer, and like our physical WC, our VWC stays busy.

When I first began consulting for U of L’s Writing Center in 2006, I worked in both the physical WC and VWC. To be honest, I didn’t like Virtual consulting at first. I’d say the time constraint was my biggest source of frustration. I was restricted to working with a paper for 50 minutes, the same appointment time length as our physical sessions. However, unlike a face-to-face session where the writer and tutor negotiate a reasonable agenda for the session, I didn’t have a writer by my side to help me prioritize how I might approach a long document or a document in its early, rougher stages. And given that my advice could only be communicated through what I typed and given that the writer wasn’t present to confirm that he or she understood my feedback, I had to take a great deal of time to type out my comments—even the simplest of concepts sometimes required a lengthy explanation.

But once I got enough Virtual consultations under my belt, I really started to like Virtual tutoring. From a consultant’s perspective, it’s a job with flexible hours and a flexible work location. The work can be done basically anytime and anywhere. And while I found it difficult at first to have to spend so much time being certain that I was being clear with my written advice, I felt more confident in some ways in the advice I was giving in my Virtual consultations as I was able to prioritize and think through the ideas I was relaying to the writer. I felt in control of my response, contrary to some face-to-face sessions, where the fast paced dialogue between me and the writer sometimes led to me saying things in ways that I didn’t mean to say them. And over time, I began collecting my Virtual responses, sharing some of my favorite pieces of advice with multiple writers—I guess I was working smarter not harder in that case. And my VWC work improved how I responded to writing in the composition classes that I occasionally taught as my VWC experience helped me learn how to be thorough as well as selective with my comments.

The writers submitting to the VWC like the service too. For many of them, a Virtual appointment is the most convenient option given their busy schedules. And for other writers, using the VWC is the only option—students taking U of L courses in Panama aren’t exactly in a position to visit our main library for a face-to-face appointment. Others like that they can save our written comments and return to them when writing future papers. If a writer feels that a consultant has made a muddy concept clearer, that writer can save that feedback and return to it whenever that concept starts to feel muddy again. And I know from talking with writers who use the VWC that they also like the opportunity to privately reflect on the feedback their consultants have given them.

Virtual consulting is an exciting part of writing center work because new, improving and simply changing technologies may allow for different types of Virtual tutoring. And for our specific Writing Center, I find Virtual work interesting because there are questions that we still need to answer and there are improvements that we can still make. For example, we want to give effective, thoughtful response. What constitutes good feedback in an e-mailed response?—a question that Becky Hallman, a former U of L consultant, effectively addresses in her recently defended MA Thesis. Or we always encourage students visiting the physical Writing Center to work with a consultant multiple times for any given assignment, taking time to work through the entire writing process, from prewriting to drafting to revising to editing—not necessarily in that order. How can we get students to work in a similar fashion in the Virtual realm, especially regarding prewriting? What about the dialogue that happens in the face-to-face setting that to me is the bread and butter of WC work? And what about the flip side of things? What can a Virtual session do that a face-to-face session can’t? What unique features of VWC sessions can we identify and improve upon? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about Virtual consulting. What experiences have you had either as a consultant or user of virtual services?