Writing Center set to break record

Posted by Gia Vaccarezza

The college's Writing Center, in its 30th year of operation, is slated to reach a record number of appointments for the 2010-2011 academic year. Student and staff tutors conducted 1,113 tutoring sessions in the fall 2010 semester, more than half the total appointments during the 2009-2010 academic year, in which 2,171 sessions were logged.

The recent numbers are a dramatic increase from past years. In the 2005-2006 academic year, the staff recorded 738 appointments and Writing Center logs from previous years show similarly low attendance.

Phil Boshoff, associate professor of English, and English Department Lecturer Martha Wiseman direct the Writing Center staff, which is comprised of 38 student tutors.

All student tutors are required to complete the EN303H: Honors Peer Tutoring Project course and spend a semester as unpaid tutors-in-training prior to officially joining the staff.

Co-Head Tutor Annie Potish '11 said no single change in the Writing Center's approach explains the dramatic increase in student turnout, but she is pleased with the change.

"It's really nice to be part of something becoming so central in the Skidmore community," Potish said.

In Sept. 2010, English as a Second Language (ESL) specialist Thad Niles joined the Writing Center staff.

Niles works with student tutors to develop approaches to working with non-native English speakers, as they often have different needs than native speakers.

Niles holds office hours in the Writing Center and is available to work with ESL students who have been referred by student tutors throughout the week.

The Writing Center has increased its hours of operation to accommodate the increase in tutoring sessions.

The current hours of operation are noon-midnight Sunday through Thursday, and noon- 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Additionally, for the first time, the Writing Center will have limited office hours during the second Summer 2011 academic session.

In an attempt to reach more students, Wiseman is leading grammar and style workshops outside of the Writing Center this semester.

Designed to teach writing basics such as punctuation, organization and narrative voice, the hour-long workshops are scheduled for Thursday and Friday afternoons throughout the semester and are open to the entire campus community.

The next workshop, titled "Beyond Evidence: Using and Integrating Secondary Sources," will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Mar. 10. in Bolton 103.

During the academic year the Writing Center staff encourages students to call and set up appointments in advance to ensure a tutoring session, though the staff tries to accommodate walk-ins as well.

Papers longer than five pages must be dropped off an hour before the appointment, and papers longer than 10 pages must be received via e-mail 24 hours prior to a scheduled appointment.

Students can call the Writing Center at 518-580-8441 to make an appointment, or visit the office in Scribner Library room 440.

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