English Language Learner Support and the Making of an Inclusive Writing Center
Chrissine Cairns, MA, Writing Center Tutor
The Writing Center is a dynamic and inclusive tutoring center staffed by experts in college writing, online writing instruction, and the delivery of personalized and multimodal tutoring services, webinars, and resources for adult students online. Housed in the Academic Success Center on Purdue Global Campus, our Writing Center is accessible to every student taking courses at Purdue Global, undergraduate and graduate. In 2014, the Writing Center celebrated its 10th anniversary, and today the Writing Center continues its mission as a free, academic support service for Purdue Global’s diverse online students writing across the curriculum and the globe.
When the Writing Center first opened, it established itself with a website, a Q&A chat, and a paper review service. At that time, students and tutors communicated only in writing and with printable resources. Then in 2008, equipped with its first full-time director and staff of professional writing tutors, the center had the potential to experiment with new educational technologies, audio and video tools, and reach more students with more personalized support.
I was one of those original tutors and the founder of the English Language Learner Tutoring and Outreach Program, one of two innovative Writing Center programs developed for students struggling with the basics of writing and standard English in the text-based online learning environment. Together, the ELL Tutoring and Outreach Program and the Writing Fundamentals Program introduced the following specialized services and resources to the Writing Center’s traditional offerings:
- Email outreach with a video welcome to the Writing Center,
- One-on-one tutoring in an audio and video-enabled, Cranium Cafe.
- Interactive writing workshops on college writing, grammar, and plagiarism prevention,
- Video and written feedback on paper reviews with a 24-hour turnaround time,
- Video tutorials on college writing and grammar topics, and
- Faculty resources and referral initiatives.
Today, these services and resources are the cornerstones of Writing Center support with improved access for ELL and Writing Fundamentals students and expanded access to all students.
In 2016, self-referral web forms were added to the Writing Center’s ELL and Writing Fundamentals web pages that connect students with a tutor and personalized video feedback within 24 hours if not immediately. Time is one thing busy, adult students online do not have to spare, and the chance to help any one student may happen only once and in an instant, so ELL and Writing Fundamentals students no longer have to be referred by an instructor to receive video feedback. ELL students had the additional obstacle of first having to self-identity as ELL to an instructor to be referred. Today, every student who submits a paper for review receives personalized video feedback.
Today, not one or two but all Writing Center tutors are trained and experienced to tutor ELL and Writing Fundamentals. ELL and Writing Fundamentals students do not have to wait for an appointed time to work with one or two specialized tutors. Over the past several years, all tutoring services, outreach, and resources in the Writing Center have been recreated to be inclusive and more accessible. They are designed with the experience and expectation that students arrive to the Writing Center at various points in their degree or career path and bring with them unique educational backgrounds and diverse cultural and linguistic histories.
Today, with streamlined outreach that connects ELL and Fundamentals students with tutors more quickly and the innovative integration of the original specialty services with the center’s traditionally offerings, the Writing Center has bridged gaps on many students’ paths to learning success. With all-student access to more tutors, more live tutoring hours, over 500 media-rich writing guides and archived webinars, and new study skills videos, the Writing Center has grown into a far-reaching, versatile, and inclusive tutoring hub that provides substantive and personalized academic support to all students with the motto, “Every encounter matters.” Visit the Writing Center by logging into PG Campus, or check out the Writing Center’s public-facing website at http://library.purdueglobal.edu/writingcenter today.