New Writing Center Designed and Researched by Students

Published: March 05, 2019 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 3 minutes

students in suu's writing centerAfter three years of hard work, the Southern Utah University Writing Center tutors have created a new Writing Center based entirely upon research in design theory and writing center space.

Traffic in the Writing Center has increased and become more diverse since its makeover, with over 6,000 tutoring sessions last year.

Former tutor Larissa Taylor (graduated 2015) began this project when she researched and proposed updates for the original SUU Writing Center. Taylor noticed the Writing Center space was not equipped to accommodate the number of tutoring sessions, especially near the end of the semester.

“With the enrollment at SUU rapidly increasing the past few years, the expansion of the Writing Center was essential to continue to help as many students as possible become better writers,” said Taylor.

Picking up where Taylor left off, three other tutors (A.J. Edwards, Kaeli Madsen, and Kallin Raymond) researched and toured nine university writing centers in Utah. The group also interviewed several writing center directors for further insight and advice.

“All of the directors gave us a generous amount of time, answered all our questions, and showed us around their writing centers,” Madsen said.

“Touring the other centers allowed me to realize how SUU can be the best.” said Edwards, “We took the best from each center, and made the ultimate writing center at SUU.”

The tutors then wrote a proposal based upon their findings and additional research. They considered factors such as spatial rhetoric, furniture arrangement, servicescapes, environmental psychology, and color theory.

writing center director julia combs with students in the renovated space“Everything from the furnishings, to the colors, to everything on the walls was designed by students. said Writing Center Director Julia Combs.

Three years later, SUU has a new and improved writing center with an all-time high for scheduled tutoring sessions. This project was able to be ongoing and credit-bearing thanks to the ENGL 3890 course required for all Writing Center tutors.

The research element of the ENGL 3890 course is unique to SUU, and ultimately what brought about the new and improved Writing Center. Tutors research and conduct projects regarding the betterment of writing centers, thus the renovation. This added component is especially beneficial for tutors who have been in the program for several years, as their research projects can be ongoing and students are more likely to see the final results.

Writing Center tutors also receive the opportunity to pitch and present their research findings at conferences throughout the year. Several of SUU’s tutors have been accepted at different national conferences, specifically the National Conference of Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW). Recently a few tutors attended and presented at a conference in South Padre Island, Texas with the NCPTW.

The Writing Center is equipped to help students with everything writing related; all tutors can help you with anything from your history paper to your lab report.

“Effective written communication is a crucial skill in any discipline, especially in an increasingly internet-focused world.” Taylor continued, “We always emphasize that the writing center is for everyone!”

In addition to running the Writing Center, tutors are also in charge of the Scriblerian Contest and Kolob Canyon Review. Both of these are opportunities for students to have their writing published. The Scriblerian Contest accepts essays from different SUU courses and the Kolob Canyon Review accepts all creative writing. Both of these are incredible opportunities for students to have their work both recognized and published.

“Writing is a skill everyone should master. Every major on campus includes writing.” Edwards continued, “The Writing Center allows students to express their ideas with their peers in whatever discipline they are studying.”

For more information about the Writing Center and its services, visit their website or Facebook page.

Contact Dr. Combs for an interview

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