Writing centers exist in a variety of shapes, sizes, and settings. Typically they are part of a writing program or learning center and serve the entire university. Although writing centers may differ in size, specific services, source of staffing, and organizational procedures, they share the following approaches:
Writing centers generally do not limit themselves to working with writers at a particular level of writing skills. Developmental students often have special programs available for them in writing centers, including credit courses which focus on individualized tutorial assistance, but the majority of students using most writing centers are enrolled in a variety of writing courses or courses in other fields. In addition, students learning English as a second language use writing centers to work on their writing skills.
There are a number of underlying assumptions which guide the writing center’s tutorial approach to writing. In the writing center, the uniqueness of each writer is acknowledged as well as the writer’s individual needs and the benefits the writer can gain from personal attention. The function of a writing consultant, on the other hand, is to provide non evaluative, immediate oral feedback, to attend only to that student’s questions, and to engage with the student in some active planning, drafting, or revising. The tutor’s goal in working on a specific paper with a student is to help that student develop general writing skills. Tutors often rely on asking questions that help students find their own answers, thereby keeping the tutorial an interactive situation in which the student is encouraged to do as much or more talking than the tutor. Numerous studies indicate not only that tutorial instruction benefits writers but also that it enhances their motivation and attitudes. Anxieties about writing are reduced by helpful coaching, positive reinforcement, and the friendly listening ear of the tutor.
In the writing center the writer joins a community of writers. At a time when the field of composing is focusing on the socializing nature of writing, there is a growing recognition of the writing center’s role in providing writers with first-hand experience in interacting with readers who can help writers learn about the discourse community for which they are writing. In a room full of other writers, writers collaborate with their tutors, who are themselves encouraged during their training to be actively involved with writing as well. Writers are thus assisted in discarding the antiquated view of the lonely writer secluded from the world as she struggles to communicate with an unknown, unseen audience. Writing centers also reinforce the generally accepted emphasis on writing as a process, for in the center writers actually engage in writing processes with tutors as they learn by doing how to plan, to brainstorm, to ask questions for revision, to rework written text, to add variety to sentence structure, to organize large amounts of material into a research paper, to proofread, and so on. Two cardinal rules for writing centers are that there be easily accessible stacks of scratch paper lying around and that the pen remain in the hand of the writer.
A Writing Consultant can…
A writing Consultant cannot…
For more information on these and other related services that the Writing Excellence Unit offers; visit us at the Language Centre (UNAM, Main Campus) room 217 D-block or call 061-2063940 for an appointment during working hours (7:30 am to 16:30 pm).
Mondays - Friday
08:30 - 12:30
14:30 - 16;30
Ms. J.N. Izaks
Tel: +264 61 206 3889