Writing Center student coaches encourage confidence in writers
April 13, 2012
Virginia Tech’s Writing Center coordinates more than 4,000 appointments each year to help students with their writing. Clients come from various academic and cultural backgrounds to seek writing advice from trained coaches.
The Writing Center, previously located in Shanks Hall, has a new home – the second floor of Newman Library. According to Jennifer Lawrence, who is an advanced instructor in the English department in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences as well as the assistant director for the Writing Center, “It makes sense for the Writing Center to be in a neutral location. This way, it is recognized as belonging to everyone, not just English majors.”
In fact, roughly a third of the Writing Center’s cliental are engineering and science majors and another third are English as a second language (ESL) students. Graduate students are also welcome at the Writing Center, adding to the academic diversity. Beth Thompson of Mount Sidney, Va., a senior majoring in English with concentrations in language, literature, and culture and professional writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is currently a Writing Center coach.
“I love working in the Writing Center because it takes me outside of the English department, and I am able to work with students from different majors,” she said. “I also have the opportunity to learn about unfamiliar subjects and material that I would never have been exposed to.”
Because the Writing Center caters to so many students, it has very flexible hours to fit various schedules. The Writing Center offers both daytime as well as nighttime appointments. For a session during the day, students are encouraged to call ahead in order to secure a spot.
Students can bring anything to the Writing Center, from an assignment sheet to a completed draft. Coaches work towards client-oriented sessions, encouraging the student to specifically tell them what he or she wants to accomplish during the session. They offer one-on-one instruction in writing at all levels. Brady Rollins of Elkton, Md., a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is a frequent visitor to the Writing Center.
“I use it every time because it helps clean up my paper and give it more clarity,” she says. “Having a second opinion is invaluable.”
To become a Writing Center coach, students first have to take English 3744: Writing Center Theory and Practice, which is a semester-long course dedicated to developing great coaching skills. This ensures that every Writing Center coach can be as beneficial to the students at Virginia Tech as possible.
Sean Simons of Lytle, Texas, a senior majoring in English with concentrations in creative writing and professional writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, said that the Writing Center course “exposed me to different coaching techniques that I would not have been aware of otherwise. The readings introduced me to various situations as well as resolutions that have been applicable to my experience in the Writing Center.”
This course is open to all undergraduate students who have completed at least three semesters of undergraduate work and who enjoy writing and feel confident in their writing abilities. Applications can be found for the 2012-13 academic year in the Writing Center or by contacting Jennifer Lawrence.
Writing Center director Jennifer Lawrence coaches student writer
Students from a variety of disciplines receive help at the Writing Center.