By Liz Lebron
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library is home to one of the most popular resources on campus: The Writing Resource Center, or WRC. The center, co-led by Director of Writing Jennifer Wells and Assistant Director of Writing Alexandra Maass, is a place where students can receive help and mentorship from staff, including a group of student writing assistants, or SWAs.
Staff members are available to review student assignments, but the center’s mission goes beyond the mechanics of composition. The WRC’s website lists its goal as promoting “writing as the practiced skill of employing it as a tool for structuring thought so that it might be clearly presented in language to an audience for the purpose of understanding.” In other words, writing as a mechanism for thinking through ideas and communicating them to an audience.
Wells, who teaches a number of Writing Studies courses, is developing a writing program for New College students. Her focus is on knowledge transfer and how professors can structure writing courses to maximize how students can take what they learn and apply it, not only as they progress through their undergraduate coursework, but also in the workforce. Advanced research writing, for instance, is a popular course Wells teaches each spring, and which appeals to students who are completing their thesis projects. She equips students with writing skills and habits that will help them write their theses and also benefit those who go on to graduate school.
Wells also offers professional development opportunities for those students who are preparing for the workforce. Her Writing With Communities and Nonprofits focuses on formats like writing for the web and social media that employers value across fields. She will also offer students research positions when she launches a research project in the fall.
“I’m going to train undergraduate students to help recruit participants, to hold the focus groups, to facilitate the discussions, and, once that’s done, I’m also going to teach them how to code the data,” says Wells. “I’ll show them how they can find patterns in discussions and focus groups.”
While many students seek help with research papers and other class assignments, center staff also encourage students to visit the WRC for help with other types of writing, including nonacademic pieces. Students can, for instance, bring their resumes, letters, and stories to the WRC for review.
Above all, the WRC is a place for community where writing is social. Students can stop by for a cup of coffee and casual discussion. They may leave with more questions than they came in with, but their writing is sure to improve.
– Liz Lebron is associate director of communications at New College of Florida.