Skip to Main Content

2014

You are in the main content


Oct 27, 2014

New Space, New Style

round tables and chairs in the University Writing Center

This year, the University Writing Center made its move from Wilson Hall to the new Student Success Center (SSC), but the location isn’t the only thing that has changed. Following the move, the UWC began a new “café style” of tutoring, which allows for a greater focus on walk-in appointments.

In 2009, the University Writing Center was only appointment-based, with no opportunity for walk-in sessions. In 2010, the Write Nights program offered walk-in sessions in a satellite location. Two years ago, walk-in appointments were added at the main location and were so successful that the UWC decided to increase walk-in availability in the new space at the SSC!

The café style of tutoring is being implemented so that more writing is actually happening in the UWC—which sounds crazy, right? A writing center where students write! With this style, walk-in tutors help a student and then give them time to work on their own, while they help other waiting clients. This way, if questions arise while the student is working, they will able to converse with a tutor again, and the tutor will be able to confirm their progress and give further advice.

This style comes from the idea that students will come in and sit down as though in a café. In this imaginary café, the sessions are less formal, and tutors are able to bounce between students to help them. The UWC doesn’t take all the credit for the idea, though. Many writing centers around the country operate in a similar manner, and our own counterparts at the JMU Science and Math Learning Center have been doing it this way for years.

Because of the prominent location at the SSC, the UWC continues to grow—and so do the number of students who wander in looking for immediate help. Café style tutoring enables shorter sessions so that tutors are able to help more of the students who come into the UWC. Tutors are able to work with a student until they reach an appropriate stopping point, or until they feel that the student is ready to work on her own. In the past, tutors occasionally had trouble helping all of the walk-in clients when the writing center was busy. By letting students spend some of the session working alone, tutors are able to help more clients each hour than if they just met with one.

UWC Coordinator Jared Featherstone states that this new method of tutoring is more in line with the mission statement of the UWC. Café style tutoring allows the tutors to help more students on a daily basis, and students are encouraged to do more on their own—which facilitates their learning. Rather than just taking notes during a session or brainstorming ideas, clients can start the writing process and receive feedback immediately, in a friendly environment where they are surrounded by other writers and helpful tutors.

- Alexis Keene, Peer Tutor