COLUMBUS, Miss. – We don’t make better papers; we make better writers. This is the motto of Mississippi University for Women’s Writing Center, which recently celebrated tutoring its 200th student.
That number has grown from 76 students tutored when the Writing Center first opened its doors in spring 2010, according to director Dr. Todd Bunnell.
He attributes that success to word of mouth and the fact that the center now has its own dedicated space on the first floor of Painter Hall, Room 106.
Six paid tutors and three interns work with Bunnell during center hours of operation, Monday-Thursday, 1-4 p.m.
“They absolutely love what they do,” Bunnell said. “They love the interaction. Most of the people who come in find they have gotten a lot of help.”
Looking for ways to improve services and attract more students, the center now is trying to determine hours that best meet student needs. Expanding online, as well as pushing toward Skype abilities, also are being explored.
Bunnell recently presented the MUW approach at the annual International Writing Centers Association Conference in San Diego, Calif. The paper, which focused on his newly developed tutor training method, 2+2+1, was titled “But Fixing Grammar is What I Do Best!”
“When we first began the Writing Center, I noticed that my tutors, when faced with a particularly tough paper or one that had numerous errors and challenges, would often fall back on simply addressing grammatical issues, something tangible, and I wanted them to focus more than just grammar, such as structure, organization and/or theses.”
As an experiment, Bunnell had them grade a sample paper as they normally would and then introduced them to his new approach, the 2+2+1 method, which stands for two Higher Order Concerns (HOC), two Low Order Concerns (LOC) and one area of praise. The students would regrade the papers using the new method.
“Grammar was always their fall back,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they were looking beyond the grammar.”
The one area of praise was a way to boost students’ confidence in a subject that can be intimidating for many.
Bunnell said there is a misconception that the Writing Center is a place where you get your papers edited and proofed. He explained that writing should be seen as a skill that gets better with time.
“If you make writing fun, you can make it easier. It’s really about saying something. It should be something you do because you want to,” he said.
In addition to directing the Writing Center, Bunnell serves as director of the TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certificate Program and coordinator of composition.
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Nov. 19, 2012
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins