Writing an essay requires a series of steps such as planning an outline and editing drafts before the final paper is complete, which can be difficult for some students.
The Center for Academic Success, English and ESL departments are teaming up to open a writing center where students can get direct help from professors and tutors during the beginning stages of writing essays in Spring of 2019.
The Center for Academic Success currently offers many services, including 30-minute appointments with a tutor to go over already written papers. Center of Academic Success Director Crystal Kiekel said the writing center would be offering a similar but also different service.
“It’s almost like you go home and you sweat, and you’re nervous, and you go through the whole thing and then you bring it to a tutor,” Kiekel said. “You find all these different ways to improve it and then you go home and improve it. Which is a fine process, but this would be a different approach. This would be where you can come in and actually work on your paper, and as you’re working on your paper somebody can just come by and answer that question right then and there. So you can have somebody help you in the process itself and not to look at the end product”
The writing center is planning to be in the Center for Academic Success computer lab 5148. English professor Marra Kraemer said students having access to computers in the center could be an efficient way for students to focus on writing their papers.
“The first priority is that they’d they have a quiet positive place to work and that’s nice,” Kraemer said. “It can help students who are busy because they have a place on campus where they can write their essays but also it allows access to faculty and tutors right there. So if you’re typing your essay and you have a grammar question you could just ask instead of waiting or forgetting about it for later.”
English and ESL Department Chair Brad Saenz said they want students to have all the help that they can get in the writing center.
“Right now most of the assistance that students get is peer tutoring,” Saenz said. “The idea is to have the writing lab supervised by a professor, so they can also assist as well as having the student tutors assisting. We at least want to have one at any given time.”
In addition to tutoring, the Center for Academic Success currently offers free Student Success workshops that range from English to nursing to math. These workshops, specifically relating to English, would also be included in the writing center. Kiekel said the English department plans to add more workshops such as reading, writing, research methods, why use research, summarizing, paraphrasing and many more.
With Assembly Bill 705 coming up, students enrolling into Pierce will be placed directly in to English 101. Kiekel said although those students are capable of passing, they need to make sure they have the resources available to them.
“We also recognize that in order for capable students to be successful they need help,” Kiekel said. “None of us are successful on our own. We all need help. There’s a certain amount that we can do without help, and there’s even more that we can do with help. If we’re going to ask students to be doing more we need to be stepping up and making sure that we’re supporting them more.”
The plan is to have the writing center open a couple days a week for a few hours. However, finding open time and space for the learning skills classes and workshops that are currently scheduled in the computer lab is one issue. Kiekel said the next question is who is going to pay for all of this.
Right now the center is looking to use basic skills initiative funds, which will help the pilot and running of the program.
“Ultimately, we’re hoping to use student equity and achievement funds to fund some tutors and some faculty members to be in there more often in Fall 2019,” Kiekel said. In the long run, we’re hoping that the college will pay for a position who can spend part of their faculty hours in there so that we can keep it open more often.”
However, Kiekel said she dreams to have the writing center open for more hours.
“I have a vision of that being open every day of the week in the next year or two,” Kiekel said. “We’ll slowly scale up so it’ll be open more and more often and the services will get better and better.”
Kiekel said because students will be placed directly into English 101 and will need help, she thinks the writing center should get the funding.
“In this way that’s why the justification for giving these additional services now comes to the top of something that’s a little bit more fundable,” Kiekel said. “Now we can really make the argument that we need to tighten our belt in other areas, maybe stop doing other things, and maybe fund this instead because everybody needs English 101.”
The specifics of when the writing center would be launched aren’t confirmed yet. However, the idea is to have it open by the second week of the semester. Many of the details are still being discussed.
Kiekel said the funding proposal would be voted on by the Student Success Committee Dec. 12., and then the senate meeting would have to approve Dec. 17. Kiekel said she believes they should be getting the funding for the writing center.
“I mean technically, somebody can say ‘no we don’t want to fund this, we’re not going to do that’ but I haven’t really heard anybody express that they think this is a bad idea or this is an unfundable idea,” Kiekel said. “AB 705 has put a lot of pressure on the college to really think about how they’re supporting students. I don’t anticipate anybody saying no, but I do want to put that disclaimer in there that we still have to approve funding for spring.”
The planning for the writing center still has multiple meetings in plan. The past meeting was on Nov. 29 and it discussed the roles of a tutor in and out of the classroom. Future meetings are tutor training Dec. 13, faculty training Jan. 3, ESL support Jan. 15, and the actual design of the writing center is Jan. 29, which will be the last meeting.