Benefits of Writing Centers

I worked in a university writing center for over three years and experienced how a writing center benefits a college community. What is a writing center? A writing center is a place on campus and often online where students and staff become better writers by receiving free feedback from a trained peer or professional writer.

This is not an editing service, nor is it the same as receiving a writing assignment with red corrections and comments from an instructor. Writing centers focus on writers and their writing process rather than on finished papers. This enables students to develop skills in self-editing. Writing centers involve collaboration, "Aha!" moments, conversation, and nurturing, among other positive actions. The trained writer (typically called a tutor or consultant) learns alongside the student.

Notice I used the singular forms of writer and student. One-on-one interaction might be writing centers' most beneficial feature. Composition instructors are terrific, but they cannot always work individually with students. They cannot spend more than thirty minutes commenting on one paper if they want to read everyone else's work before the end of the month.

In fact, my first visit to the writing center resulted from lacking time to wait in line during my professor's office hours one day. Fifteen minutes into my writing center session, the consultant guided me to the realization that my draft had too many quotes. That realization has guided my use of quotes in writing ever since.

Getting feedback while drafting is usually more effective than getting feedback on a finished paper. Students who are guided while drafting can strengthen weak areas, such as faulty logic, before turning in assignments. They can see how the instructor might react to their ideas beforehand.

I might expand on writing centers' benefits for students in a future post, but let's look at the other side of the table. How do writing center consultants benefit from their work?

Verbal communication, critical thinking, and writing skills often improve enormously. Consultants have to explain why they react a certain way to an idea, explain how to strengthen thesis statements and other features of writing, and explain grammar rules. They have to question what they read to find places that need more work. And of course, consultants have to assist with the writing process, sometimes working with students on aspects of writing that they themselves find difficult.

When students and consultants leave writing centers as stronger writers, they can take on life's writing challenges, from writing cover letters to bestselling novels!

Darla Word

About Darla Word

I'm a writing tutor and editor from Michigan. My favorite subject to write about is writing because making better writers is my calling. I also enjoy reading, singing, swimming, and cardmaking.

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