College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Student Tutors Help Peers Become Better Writers

The University Writing Center is changing for the better with the help of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).  The QEP is a five-year program designed to transform the teaching of writing at the University of Mississippi.

The goal of the program is to improve student writing as a whole by improving writing support services and resources.

Already, the Writing Center has received new technology for the center and has seen a dramatic increase in student usage.

“The Writing Center is an important student service,” Brenda Robertson, director of the Writing Center and board member for the Center of Writing and Rhetoric, said. “And the QEP is helping.”

The Writing Center has been on campus for over twenty years. Because of the QEP, the Writing Center will be transformed into an academic unit called the Center for Writing and Rhetoric.

The changes will start in stages and are due for completion in 2013. This reorganized unit will contain all things writing for the university.

The future of the Writing Center is bright due to the recent increase in enrollment and center usage. To accommodate this increase, an online appointment calendar is being used along with ten appointment assistants that help control the demand.

Due to the QEP, the Writing Center now has twenty tutors instead of just three tutors like it did two years ago. “We’ve really exploded,” Robertson said. “We’ve done a lot to promote the writing center this year. We participated at the summer orientations and told all about the Writing Center in classroom visits with tutors. We want students to see that tutors are just like them, only they found the key to being a good writer.”

The Writing Center gives students, both freshmen and upperclassmen, a relaxing place to be themselves and just focus on their writing with the help of a tutor. “Peer tutoring is a different kind of learning,” Robertson said. “It’s not authoritarian. It’s simply responding to a student. It helps reinforce what’s learned in the classroom.”

Camille Lesseig, a junior history and Spanish major who works as a writing tutor for the center agreed.

“I feel it’s really helping because meeting with a student is less intimidating than meeting with a professor.” Lesseig said. “Plus, the hours are more flexible than a TA or a professor. We’re more approachable than someone with a Ph.D.”

Several tutors from the Writing Center also extend their services in the community by volunteering their evenings to work at the Oxford-Lafayette Public Library.

On these evenings, the tutors assist users with professional writing such as resumes and cover letters. More programs like the library program are planned with the expansion of the QEP.

The University Writing Center is located in Suite 310 on the third floor of the J. D. Williams Library. For appointments call 662-915-7689 or email writingc@olemiss.edu.

from The Daily Mississippian by Kayleigh Webb