Archive for Saturday, August 14, 2010

KU’s Writing Center focuses on clarity of expression

August 14, 2010

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Kansas University senior Garrett Blattner, left, works with writing consultant Kara Bollinger at KU’s Writing Center in Wescoe Hall. The Writing Center helps KU students organize, think critically, edit and improve their papers.

Kansas University senior Garrett Blattner, left, works with writing consultant Kara Bollinger at KU’s Writing Center in Wescoe Hall. The Writing Center helps KU students organize, think critically, edit and improve their papers.

Kara Bollinger sometimes edits 30 papers a week.

She is not a professor; she is a graduate student working in the Kansas University’s Writing Center. As a writing consultant Bollinger has helped hundreds of students plan, organize, think critically, edit and improve their papers.

In the meantime, she learns about renewable energy, stem cells, law theories and whatever else she might come across in the papers. She says it’s time well spent.

Zanice Bond de Perez, writing specialist for graduate and international students, said the center helps everyone, no matter the student’s discipline, skill-level or class. She said it is not a place for judgment, but one for listening and providing support.

“Every writer needs a reader,” Perez said.

As a whole, the center provided a reader to more than 2,000 students and for more than 6,000 sessions during its 10th year anniversary, which was two years ago. Now, the center plans to accommodate more students by moving from Wescoe Hall to a larger location at the library next door as part of the Anschutz Learning Studio. Even with more space, collaboration and staff, the center is expected to stay busy.

“Supply never seems to outstrip demand,” said Terese Thonus, center director.

Thonus said students seek advice in all stages of the writing process, but come in most frequently for draft reviews.

“Becoming a better writer means becoming a better thinker,” Thonus said.

While advising for university-related projects is most common, about a quarter of the visits are for reasons unrelated to a class, such as scholarship essays and graduate school and job applications.

Rachel McMurray is one of the nearly 30 peer consultants.

She loves working with students, but said it does involve a lot of mental work to think through how to explain advice to her peers. She said staying calm, having patience and retaining focus are important. For McMurray, these are skills that pay off in the end.

“It’s so rewarding to see people notice a difference in their writing, recognize their errors and learn through the process,” McMurray said.

Unfortunately, McMurray said most of the students she helps come in right before their assignment is due, allowing little time for revision.

“It’s like people think we are a machine — that they can submit their paper and we’ll fix it for them,” McMurray said.

Ask anybody in the writing center and they will recommend the same thing to incoming students — don’t procrastinate.

With a new location, added hours and several on-campus locations, the writing center is making it even easier for students to be successful.

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