Writing Center Observation

Alexis Higgs

ENG 251

4 February 2015

Writing Center Observation Blog

            Arriving more than a few minutes early to the appointment I planned to observe, I noticed how great The Fishbowl is for Writing Center Appointments. There is an open feel, inviting colors, and a comfortable, dedicated area to work. The consultant walked in with the student for their appointment about five minutes before it was scheduled to begin. The consultant and the student both welcomed me appreciatively when I asked to observe the session. She had worked with this writer many times, so they were already familiar with each other’s names and made friendly small talk for a few minutes before they began to look at what the writer brought to the session.

As the session began, the consultant asked the writer what it was that he had brought with him and he took out what he described as a “very rough draft” of a short essay. The paper was for an introductory psychology class; the main point of the assignment was to write down what you planned on writing a longer research paper about and why you chose the topic. If I were to ask any additional questions, one may have been to ask how formal this assignment was and how much support he needed to have for why he chose the topic. This was the perfect appointment to observe, because it may show a writer who is apprehensive about using The Writing Center that the consultants are there to help at any point during the writing process.

As the consultant spoke with the writer about the piece, it was on a table between the two of them, facing the writer as he spoke about what he had written. The consultant had good non-verbal communication skills, looked at the writer when he spoke, and restated/summed up some of what the writer said to assure him she was understanding. I would definitely consider her an active listener! The consultant let the writer do most of the talking and explaining at the beginning, so to establish a genuine interest in his piece and to respect the work he had already put into the assignment. As a writer in an appointment, I would appreciate the active listening and take advantage of a person willing to listen to me talk about my writing!

The consultant proceeded to set an agenda with the writer for the session. She asked the writer what it is that he wanted to get out of the session for this specific piece of writing. He voiced his concerns with certain reoccurring grammatical errors and making sure his paper “flowed.” The consultant had the writer read his paper aloud, and she quickly stated how he did a great job fixing what they “talked about last time!” She established rapport by asking him if he felt a strong connection to this topic and why. He had a personal connection to the topic, so he felt compelled to talk about it more, leading him to consider his own revisions. The consultant made the appointment both friendly and collaborative; she helped him realize he knew a lot more about his own writing than he thought.

I would say for this specific session, the consultant filled the role of a listening peer. She listened to his concerns and helped him come up with more information on his own that would contribute to the flow of his writing piece. The consultant then asked if there were any specific parts of the paper where he wanted to go over grammatical errors they had previously discussed. The consultant then recommended a resource that could help further explain how and why to use prepositional phrases, which I thought was great! The Writing Center may be able to offer insight to resources you may not have previously considered.

Finally, the consultant asked the writer how he felt about the piece now, and he felt positive about it. She praised the corrections he made on his own before coming to the session and told him how excited she was to see him write about something he is passionate about. The writer stated that he would “probably be back with another assignment within the next week or so.” I thought it was a great session to observe, it gave me a better understanding of what The Writing Center has to offer that I would enjoy sharing with others!


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