By Dayzsha Lino, Staff Reporter
To alleviate concerns about the new CSUDH Writing Center in the Student Success Hub, members of the English Department held a town hall on Friday, Feb. 21 in the Faculty Development Center to discuss in detail what the Writing Center is and what its purpose is in serving the campus community.
The Writing Center began last semester on the third floor of the North Library in the Student Success Hub. However, there has been some confusion on campus among faculty about how the new center differed from a writing center that has been on campus since 2010, Promoting Excellence in Graduate Studies (PEGS), which is located one floor above.
PEGS is supposed to close its doors in May, but when hearing about its closure in January, some faculty members who had worked with it over the years expressed concern about where their graduate students would receive help.
Mara Lee Grayson, the director of the Writing Center, led the February town hall and assured that the center would provide one-on-one tutoring and consultations with students in any department or program who seek writing and/or research assistance, including undergraduates and graduates.
But the writing center is not designed like a traditional writing center to help students with basic grammar or other writing fundamentals; it is designed to encourage students to become better writers and to view the center not as a task they need to do, but as an asset that will aid in their academic success.
One of the goals Grayson would like to achieve through the Writing Center is building a community of writers. She stressed that one way to do that is not mandating student attendance, but encouraging students to come on their own terms.
“By requiring visits we tend to negate what we’re trying to do,” Grayson said.
While the Writing Center promises tools and guidance in analyzing source material, organizing, drafting, revising, and highlighting rhetorical and discursive language, they do not correct grammar, teach APA/MLA/Chicago style formatting, or locate source material for students, according to slides that were shown in a virtual town hall in January and a CSUDH Academic Senate meeting Feb. 5.
To provide clarification on the matter, Dr. Chris Potts and Amanda Reyes, a writing associate at the Writing Center, led a presentation at the town hall to address concerns about how the tutors at the Writing Center would try to assist students with grammar.
Dr. Potts introduced what he called a metacognitive and rhetorical approach, or “notice method” which is used to recognize what the student notices in their writing and allows the tutor to provide a solution. The notice method is meant to help tutors answer the following questions: What do I (the reader) notice? What does the student notice? What do we both notice? He believes that this method is the best way to get students to actually think about what they’re writing.
“As a tutor, we’re not thinking necessarily as a writer. We’re thinking as a reader of the student’s text, and that’s really important,” Potts said.
During the town hall, Potts and Reyes confirmed that the Writing Center would accommodate both undergraduate and graduate students in all fields by using a copy of a graduate student’s research paper to demonstrate how they would use the notice method to improve student writing by adding attributions and providing more clarification for the reader.
“This doesn’t just lead to more questions and conversations, but this leads to action; this leads to us taking notes; this leads to moves on the paper. This leads to different things,” Reyes said.
The CSUDH Writing Center is located on the third floor of the University North Library Building. They are open Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
You can also find them online at: https://www.csudh.edu/writing-center/