Monday, October 20, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: An Important Lesson...

I never even thought about having a job here on campus. All I had ever heard were comments like, “It’s impossible to get a job on campus” or, “There’s just too many people, not enough spots to place all of them.” The point is, when I was approached about the possibility of working at the Writing Center as a tutor, I was BEYOND excited. I’d be conveniently working right in Baird Hall, tutoring students in my favorite subject (and, consequently, my major): English. So, for that, I’d like to thank Dr. Beam and everyone I work with here at the Writing Center for making this a fun and rewarding experience!

In my approximately one month of tutoring, I’ve had quite a few consultations… Many more than I had expected. During those consultations, there is a common theme among them: I barely do any talking. Now, that isn’t to imply I’m not helping students or providing feedback; many of them simply sit down, and begin discussing their ideas immediately. Rather than criticizing or giving tips right away, I try to build on their ideas. I ask questions that prompt the students to think a little harder and dig a little deeper, no matter what the topic. As a writer, I have always found this type of exchange extremely beneficial. I enjoy bouncing ideas between people, even if I may not agree with all of them. This allows me to develop my own ideas in a new and inventive way.

During my relatively few consultations of going through this process, I hope to give writers confidence in their ideas. I hope to provide writers an outlet where they can express themselves in a welcoming environment. That’s always been beneficial for me, and I hope other RSU students feel the same after visiting the Writing Center. It’s an amazing feeling when I see that light bulb go off over a student’s head and they realize the potential in their individual ideas.

What I learned from my great high school English teacher has carried over here to tutoring: discussion is key. The free flow of ideas and feelings is so very important to the writing process. Peer review, class discussion, and, most importantly, genuine participation is what makes the writing process enjoyable and much easier. For those of you struggling with writing in any way, I would suggest coming to the Writing Center. We are more than happy to sit down and discuss whatever issue you have, no matter where you are in the writing process (brainstorming, first draft, editing, etc.) Our job is to help YOU realize your writing potential, and we take great pride in providing the means of doing so here at RSU. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Safe Space

Working in the Writing Center and learning to let others peer review my paper is a handy technique I have recently learned to appreciate. In fact, I use this strategy frequently in my classes. I had a paper due for Creative Nonfiction a few weeks ago, and was worried I was doing it all wrong. It was a profile essay, and I was worried I had not written the right type of essay. I wrote the paper about my mother, and wanted to portray her in the right light, but also fulfill the paper’s requirements. I had never written a profile essay before, and had started to think I was way off base. I showed it to my friend who, although she is not an English major, writes a lot of papers herself. She went through the paper patiently with me, and when we were stuck on something we looked it up. Her main concern was with my focus. Reading through it, she immediately saw that I liked to talk about all my family members equally, instead of just my mother. She brought this to my attention, and after some quick editing the essay was much more focused. 

After we had gone over the paper, she asked why I had needed the peer review. 

“It was a good essay. We barely fixed anything!” she said. 

“Sometimes you just need an extra brain to see things from a different view, you know?” I had answered. By going through the peer review and receiving friendly critique, I was much more confident when I turned the paper in. 

To some, this lesson may seem small or unimportant. However, it has helped me in almost every aspect of my school career. Letting others view my work and offer friendly criticism helps not only myself, but everyone involved, become better writers and readers. This then transfers over to the Writing Center, where I further my skill by helping others overcome their anxieties and make better grades for themselves. Please feel free to call or email the Writing Center to make an appointment, and take advantage of the free tutoring here on campus! Click here to visit our website for more information.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Resources

Hello everyone! My name is Abby Wraight, and I have just started working at the Writing Center a couple weeks ago. I am a senior English major who is thrilled to finally have a job that is on campus (no more fast food jobs for me) and related to something that I enjoy: writing. The Writing Center is a great place for all students on campus to come and use no matter what stage in the writing process he or she is in. It is a place where learning and growing occurs, both for the students that use it and for those that work there. In the short time that I have worked at the Writing Center, I have learned the importance of consulting The Everyday Writer, as well as other reference materials in the Writing Center to help students with their citations. One of the most common questions students have asked me is, “How do I correctly cite this?” As a senior working on capstone currently, I tend to think that I have a pretty firm grasp on how to cite my work in the MLA format, because I am doing so on a regular basis. Even though I still normally consult my Everyday Writer for my papers (to make sure that I have the citation completed properly), I have found that it is very important to consult it during every writing consultation.

One way in which I have needed to refer to The Everyday Writer was when I was helping a student who needed to work on an internet citation for a Composition I paper. Typically, I am more used to citing databases for my papers that require outside research; since this student was a freshman who was not yet required to use the RSU databases, she used an internet source from the Web, which can be trickier to cite. Web pages often do not have all of the information that one needs to make a proper MLA citation. This particular internet source included a short story with the title and author. It was missing the publisher or sponsor information and the date of publication. The source came from a university website so I still felt that it could be a viable source for the student to use. After consulting page 435 in the most recent edition (page 397 in the fourth edition) I was able to show the student how to correctly cite this source. Following along with the handbook, the student wrote the author’s last name and first name, the title of the short story with quotation marks, the name of the website, “N.p.” to indicate there was no available publisher or sponsor, “n.d.” for no date of publication, “Web” to indicate the story came from a website, and lastly the date of access with a period at the end. By going through the correct way to cite an internet source with this student, I not only helped her to learn how to cite similar sources, but it was also a great refresher lesson for me.

There are many ways that the sources in the Writing Center can be helpful for students. Using The Everyday Writer while working on papers can complement the other sources that are available for students such as the online writing resources that are listed on our university’s website under the Writing Center tab. Here is a direct link to these resources. By not being afraid to look to the materials such as The Everyday Writer and this link, one can continue to grow more educated in the field of writing. I hope to continue to allow these tools to help me as I finish my career as an under graduate student and beyond into my future.


P.S. If you are unable to use the book to look up MLA citations here is a link for The Everyday Writer online .

Monday, September 29, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Lessons Learned

A common misconception about tutoring services is that they are only for students who have minimal experience in the field (i.e. writing, science, math, etc.). Coming to the Writing Center for tutoring and requesting help can benefit every student from a first-year freshman to a fifth-year senior and beyond. After all, there are professional consulting firms all around the world that get paid the big bucks to assist businesses with major projects. My work thus far in the Writing Center has helped me understand how beneficial seeking advice can really be.

When I was hired to be a writing tutor for Rogers State, I had a general idea of what to expect. I knew I would be helping students with their papers; anything from brainstorming, to producing an outline, to helping with the perfect finishing touches. In many ways, I would be acting as a consultant. I also believed in that misconception that I would mostly be working with the freshman class. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the variety of students I have encountered has taught me a valuable lesson. Everyone can use some help.

One of the first tutoring sessions I was involved with happened to be a senior working on capstone project. Obviously, this was much different than what I had expected. As it turns out, he was a really good writer. He was organized and had thought out his paper carefully. He said he had always had success with his writing assignments in other classes, but for whatever reason it simply wasn’t working out with this particular teacher. Of course, he was a little discouraged, but here he was seeking advice. It made me think about how I would have reacted if put in the same situation. As a senior myself, I sometimes think that I have everything figured out, and that my way is the right way. It is easy to get defensive of criticism, and I admired the way he was handling himself. He was open to suggestions and advice to make his paper better.

I realized that I can get so caught up in giving advice that I forget all of these resources are available for me too. I hope that after this experience I will utilize the many tutoring and learning services offered at the university more to make my future projects the best that they can be. Never be afraid to ask for help. I’ve learned that even the most experienced writers can benefit from another set of eyes. I can’t imagine a situation when seeking advice would fail to be beneficial. Just remember to go into it with an open mind!

Rogers State offers a variety of  tutoring services on campus and I encourage everyone to look into them. For more information on the Writing Center you can click on this link. Do you have a busy schedule? We can also assist you online (via email, video chat, or instant messenger).

So, whether you have a hard time writing a grocery list, or are about to publish the next New York Times bestseller, a little help will never hurt!

Good luck!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Fulfilling Work

Hi, RSU students and faculty! My name is McKinze Hefner. This is my first year as a tutor in the Writing Center, and I have learned so much. Being a tutor has taught me to recognize the strengths and weaknesses in others. Every student at RSU is required to take Composition I and II, so, essentially, all students are writers. However, how strong of a writer a student is all depends on the strength of the student. Some students are not strong writers, but this does not mean they cannot produce a good, academic paper.

As a tutor, I have encountered both types of students, but I have noticed that all of the students who come to the Writing Center are always striving to be better. I had an appointment with a non-traditional student who had not been to school in at least eight years. She started the appointment by telling me she was not a strong writer and apologized for what she referred to as her “horrible writing.” I responded immediately with encouragement and told her that what she had written was only a first draft. I explained that first drafts are never very good in general and that is why students should always have their papers looked over by others.

After we finished the session, she was much more confident about her paper and seemed much happier than how she was in the beginning. I have encountered many other students just like her, but I always remember that every paper can be transformed into a solid academic essay. Everyone is capable of being a good writer, and students who come to the Writing Center asking for help are those who show the desire to improve their writing. Helping other students is very fulfilling, and I have learned just as much from them as I hope they have learned from me. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fall 2014 begins...

Welcome to the Fall 2014 semester, RSU students!

 The Writing Center is here to support ALL college-level writers at RSU on all 3 campuses on-ground, online, or over the phone. We also have a website where we describe and explain our services and policies.

There are a few things to remember when you're ready to come talk to us about your writing. For example, we prefer that students make appointments but take walk-ins when we can. Also, it's good to know in advance that we will not provide a full session on the paper due date--though you can ask a few, quick questions, and we'll do our best to answer them. The good news is that you don't have to have a paper draft before coming to see us! We'll work with you at any point during the writing process--from brainstorming and outlining to revising a full draft.

If you can't make it to the Center during our regular 8-5 Monday-Friday hours, consider an over the phone, email, video chat, or instant message (Gchat) appointment. For more information about scheduling writing help over the phone or online, click this link.

Last, I wanted to tell you about our free online writing resources available at this link. We've got information about all kinds of citation styles (including MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, and more) and college writing guidelines.

Need writing help? Just ask!

Happy writing,
Sara Beam, Writing Center Coordinator