How to Best Use a Writing Center

Thoughts on ways to best make use of your school’s Writing Center, from Consultants who work there:


from Amy Voss Farris, Ph.D. candidate (Learning Sciences), Peabody College:

Writing Centers are really special spaces:  you’ll find writers who think carefully about the process of writing and will enthusiastically brainstorm, troubleshoot, or read and respond to your text, wherever you are in the process.  Don’t think you have to have a complete draft ready before talking about it with others!


from Alex Oxner, Ph.D. candidate and Vanderbilt Instructor in English:

–scheduling a recurring writing studio visit can help with time management, even if the student ends up using it as a brainstorming session

–the writing studio is really great at helping with argument-driven papers because our thesis worksheet provides templates that begin forcing students to consider the “so what” part of their arguments (and the thesis templates can also be used for drafting sub-theses)

–focusing on outlining and reverse outlining can also help with time management and I ask most of my clients to do one (or both) of these things

–if students are nervous about research, the studio can help because I have had entire sessions devoted to teaching a client how to use the library databases, how to skim through articles, how to cite in MLA/APA, etc.

–the writing studio can also help with writing concisely because tutors have enough distance from the work and can identify repetition more easily than the writers themselves


from Deann Armstrong, Ph.D. candidate and Vanderbilt Instructor in English:

I would encourage students come to the writing studio early, even before they have a full draft, when they are planning and drafting, as this can help with time management, structuring, and even setting research expectations. However, for students who think that writing a paper is a single-sitting event, this advice is not likely to be well received. The perception that writing will be a drafting and re-drafting process, an ongoing dialogue with other research, needs to be formed for students to be more likely to use the Writing Studio. If they don’t believe that writing will involve drafting, coming to the studio might seem like an unnecessary investment of time.


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