By: Damon Markiewicz
The Springfield College Academic Success Center (ASC) and the Department of Literature, Writing, and Journalism (LWJ), have teamed up to make it easier for students to receive writing support on campus. In the past, writing assistance was split between the ASC and Department of LWJ, but the combining of resources this fall has placed all the writing help in one convenient location at Writing@SpringfieldCollege.
Writing@SpringfieldCollege has a mission of helping all students with their writing plan and skills. Students can opt to meet with a peer tutor, or faculty writing specialist, in person or online. In addition, students can submit a draft for feedback. Overall, the tutors and writing specialists help identify areas within a student’s project that can use a little work. They don’t make the edits for the individual, but they do provide a game plan for bringing the writing project to the next level.
“Combining all of the writing resources at the College in one area really makes it easier for the students to receive the help they are looking for,” explained Academic Success Center Assistant Director of Tutorial Services Brian Hyer. “It’s great to have this one-stop shop for writing help on campus, it increases the students’ knowledge and access to writing support, and it also has made it easier to educate faculty about writing support services on campus.”
Chair of the Department of Literature, Writing, and Journalism Anne Wheeler and Professor Sherri VandenAkker work with Hyer to assure that student requests are being fulfilled. Hyer overseers the trained student peer tutors on campus, while Wheeler collaborates with VandenAkker from a faculty writing specialist perspective.
“Something that really makes this collaboration great is the fact that it’s all about finding the best way to help students,” explained Wheeler. “We have staff from the ASC working with our faculty, and everyone has a focus of making sure the student requests are being met. We have always had so many helpful resources on our campus, and this new structure is all about working with students, and making sure they have the support they are seeking.”
From a faculty perspective, VandenAkker continues to be a part of Writing@SpringfieldCollege, and she went on to describe the impact she has witnessed when working with peer tutors and students.
“So often when learners feel intimidated by an assignment, those feelings remind them of past negative academic experiences,” explained VandenAkker. “Once we work through the goals and guidelines of an assignment and make connections to the work they've done on the job and in the classroom, we can see them relax and get excited about their learning.”
One aspect that makes Writing@SpringfieldCollege so unique is the fact that the program supports such a wide range of learners including: traditional undergraduate, graduate students, adult students, first-year doctoral level students, online students, and learners from all disciplines taught at the College.
Supporting students uses best practices in the writing center pedagogy, which means the instructors prioritize process over product. They emphasis is placed on providing writers with skills and strategies that can address components of a current writing situation and be transferred to future projects. Every session begins with consultation and negotiation. The student presents their questions and concerns, and the peer tutor or faculty writing specialist helps them to set realistic expectations for what can be accomplished during the appointment. The session then moves between providing students with direct instruction and opportunities to revise their work based on the instruction they’ve received.
“We offer both in-person and remote appointments throughout the day, at night, and on weekends,” added VandenAkker. “We want learners to know they're valued and we respect their unique academic journey.”
The idea to consolidate the writing assistance on campus started with Hyer and Wheeler collaborating last spring, with the unveiling of the new program this fall. Momentum continues to build for the reinforced commitment to writing help on campus, and the feedback has been very positive this semester.
“The feedback has been very positive, and we look forward to watch the continued growth with this program,” added Hyer. “One of the goals is to continue to build awareness of the writing assistance to students, and let them know, we are always here to help.”