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Writing Center one of many resources available on campus for students

Apr. 28, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University's annual "Dead Week," when students prepare for finals, will start April 29.

Teachers will be withholding their tests to give students more time to prepare for finals, but it's a busy time as many students are working on exam papers. There are resources on campus like the Writing Center located at the second floor of the Drinko Library, that help students with these projects. Students can arrange tutoring sessions for a variety of topics including grammar advice and formatting. The writing center also has a partnership with the Marshall University Libraries to allow students to have appointments with research librarians to help in understanding how to use the many resources on campus.

The online tutoring service was first added in the summer of 2013. Students can upload papers for review and chat in real time with tutors.

"We are here for any student, graduate or under graduate," said Laura Sonderman, director of the Writing Center. "They can make an appointment with one of our tutors and they can talk to them about specific writing assignments or just writing issues in general. We have also extended our appointments to not just be in the Writing Center. We also have online appointments so students who are learning from a distance or can't make it in on that day can still get feedback."

Tutors can help in a variety of ways.

"The tutors try to help the student improve their writing," Sonderman said. "It can be just basic grammar, but more often students come in because they don't know how to start a thesis statement or organize their paper. Those larger issues are ones we are talking about, too. We are not an editing service. It's above our students training and pay rate. What we want to do is empower students to become writers themselves. We want to look at common mistakes that students are making and talk about that specific error and how to fix it. That way students can take that information and apply it to their future work."

Sonderman says that the manner of writing can vary from major to major.

"One of the things we try to talk about with the students is that they have a specific vocabulary that works within their discipline," she said. "If you are a science writer, that is going to look very different than the vocabulary an English writer uses. That also means what is considered an error or strong writing can vary a bit from discipline to discipline. We help students best learn to use that vocabulary to build their skills from a basic high school level to a more complex college level of writing. One of the things we have on our website is a series of links to websites that can help people in different disciplines."

The Writing Center has about 100 to 150 face-to-face appointments a week late in the semester. It employs 25 tutors, consisting of student assistants and graduates with assistantships.