Streamlining to Simplicity: Writing Center Fundamentals in 2016
Kyle Harley, Purdue University Global Writing Center Tutor
This past month, the Fundamentals Writing program through the Purdue University Global (Purdue Global) Writing Center went through a bit of an overhaul. Prior to our sleek new form, students and professors alike found themselves very confused with the overall program in general: What is this “Fundamentals” program all about? Does my student qualify? And, most importantly, how do I refer students to receive additional assistance?
Now, to address the elephant in the room, many students and professors alike may scoff at the notion of a Fundamentals program due to the stigma attached to the word “Fundamentals.” “Remediation,” “Basic Writing,” “Developmental Writing,” and the never-ending list of ways to try and spruce up the terms does not take away from the fact that some students need a bit more assistance than traditional services can initially provide. These particular students have a very difficult time creating even the simplest of sentences, and, at a collegiate level, their ideas, of course, must be clear and legible enough to effectively get their ideas across. Their papers are typically rife with sentence-level errors, misspellings, disoriented meaning and organization, and a general lack of proper writing skills required for this level of education. To assist these students, our Fundamentals program seeks to work with them, individually, once per week independent of Live Tutoring and Paper Review. Both of these services are suggested to be utilized by the student during the intervals of our meetings, and because we conduct our sessions in the same location as Live Tutoring, students immediately will feel at home once they progress through the program. Much like our Live Tutoring sessions, the student and tutor work through whatever tasks the tutor has identified prior to the session. After any given number of weeks depending on how quickly the student moves forward, we eventually direct students to our other services so that they can take advantage of all the assistance we offer. In this way we not only help students progress quickly up to collegiate standard, but we further ensure an increase in retention as many of these students continue to use writing center services well after the completion of the program.
Back before our overhaul, our Fundamentals page was, indeed, a bit daunting. The steps required the professor or student to contact a tutor directly, bouncing e-mails back and forth, and just simply wasting far too much time without producing enough quality results. To combat this, we implemented the use of the same JotForm that students currently use to submit papers to our Paper Review service. Now, students, professors, and even advisors may now, with impossible ease, submit work for consideration into the program.
Streamlining our Fundamentals program has been beneficial in another way. Because many instructors and advisors alike think that two APA-related issues in a draft requires Fundamentals assistance—this could not be further from the truth—we now also assess any of the work that is submitted to the program. If, by chance, the student’s work rates a bit higher than our typical inclusions into the program, the student still receives an e-mail detailing our Live Tutoring and Paper Review services. This way, regardless of outcome, students will, based on their decision to attend or not, receive some form of assistance from our trained and fantastic team via pre-existing Purdue University Global Writing Center services. By streamlining this form—and making it far simpler and easier to comprehend—we’ve increased our outreach that much more and provided a simpler solution to assist students in need.
I encourage any Purdue Globa instructor, advisor, and student alike to submit work for consideration into the program; this way, because of our new, simple outreach, some form of assistance will be extended almost instantaneously.