Writing center adapts to digital age with online tutoring

edited.WritingCenter_RebeccaKanaskie2By Carlee Berkenkemper

Elm Staff Writer

Although Washington College’s Writing Center is physically located in Goldstein Hall, the addition of online tutoring sessions will make the center’s offerings accessible from virtually any location.

The Writing Center is an individualized peer tutoring center where students can meet one-on-one with consultants to review their work. Tutors work with students writing for all disciplines and assignments, including brainstorming an English paper, editing a lab assignment for chemistry, or creating an oral presentation.

The newest edition to the Writing Center is an online tutoring program, created for students to conveniently receive feedback from their peer tutors.

Elizabeth Shirk, the academic resources coordinator for the Office of Academic Skills, has spent the last semester training two tutors, seniors Kelsey McNaul and Aaron Wallace-Holland, for the online tutoring initiative.

“I like working at the writing center because I get to watch students grow throughout the sessions. People should come to the writing center because everyone can benefit from our services, no matter their skill level of writing,” McNaul said.

The typical tutoring process begins with scheduling an appointment to guarantee a timeslot with a tutor in a specialized subject matter, but walk-ins are also welcome.

Appointments at the Writing Center last approximately 45 minutes. To maximize time, the center suggests that students bring a rubric, assignment sheet or prompt, outline, specific questions, and any feedback they have already obtained from the professor for their assignment.

Examples of work that can be revised in the Writing Center include lab reports, graduate school applications, academic and personal creative writing, presentations, cover letters, and senior theses.

The goal of offering these sessions online is that more students will be able to take advantage of tutoring resources, according to Writing Center Director John Boyd.

“By using a video conferencing platform, we can offer the same kind of supportive, face-to-face interaction that we provide in the Writing Center, but that can now happen when students are off campus or even when they are studying abroad,” Boyd said.

Since sessions are conversation-based, the paper in question will be read aloud by the peer consultant or student. Due to the virtual nature of the session, the tutoring will revolve around discussion of the content of the work rather than line-by-line grammatical editing.

By visiting the same peer consultant for multiple sessions, students can receive more of an individualized experience. Busy students or those studying abroad can still achieve this consistency through the online tutoring option.

“Writers who are unable to physically come to the center, or who would have a difficult time doing so, will have an alternative option. This could be due to disability status, time-related inconvenience, or for students who are studying abroad but would still like to make use of the center,” Wallace-Holland said.

The Writing Center is open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Evening sessions on Monday through Thursday take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Miller Library in the Kohl Study Room on the second floor. Sunday hours are also held in the Kohl Study Room from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit the Writing Center’s website.

To schedule an appointment, students should login with their WC username to the Writing Center’s website, which also contains tutor biographies on the staff page.

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