RISD Writing Center updates

Hello RISD faculty,

The RISD Writing Center has a few important updates. Please read on so you can do two things: help us spread the word to students; and work together with us to prepare students to “communicate in multiple ways with acuity and clarity” (as President Somerson said so well in her Commencement speech).

The Basics
As most of you know, the RISD Writing Center is an academic support service for all RISD students. Meeting one-to-one, our peer tutors collaborate with student writers to support them in developing an effective writing process. We work with all kinds of writers (strong, struggling, and in between), all kinds of writing (academic, professional, personal), and at all stages of the writing process (from brainstorming to drafting to revision). Our professional staff also works with faculty to develop writing pedagogy, offering resources, guidance, and in-class workshops. Last year, the Writing Center provided more than 1,700 one-hour tutoring sessions and about fifty in-house and in-class workshops. In addition to this service, we see ourselves as advocates for writing as a tool for critical thinking and expression in the context of art and design.

Tutoring in Two New Literacies
This fall, we will begin piloting tutoring support and workshops in public speaking and visual communication. This expansion follows an increase in requests from students to respond to untraditional “texts”—from screen-based oral presentations to notes for critique to websites. In the past year, we have collected resources to support these requests informally, and this summer, expanded and formalized them into a set of co-curricular materials and exercises designed for tutoring and workshops. In this pilot year, a select group of tutors will be trained to provide public speaking and visual communication tutoring. In time, we hope to transition into a full-fledged “multiliteracy center”—a model now emerging at colleges across the country—to support students in communicating in multiple modes that are linguistic, visual, oral, print-based, and digital. This will be a year of experiment and discovery for us; we welcome your input. We also hope you’ll refer students to us as they prepare for class presentations (spoken and visual aspects) and crits and design digital and print communication of all kinds.

In-class Presentation/Workshops
The Writing Center offers a variety of presentations and workshops, led by our professional staff, for delivery in your classes. The full list and descriptions are posted on our website, under the “For Faculty” tab. If there’s a topic you would like us to cover that’s not here, please let us know and we’ll try to meet your needs. In either case, we ask for at least 2-3 weeks notice to schedule and prepare. We’ll begin by meeting with you to understand your needs and expectations. Presentation and workshop lengths are flexible; we can give an overview presentation for an hour or lead a series of three one-hour workshops, giving students more hands-on experience. To schedule a presentation or workshop for your course, please e-mail the respective presenter (Meredith Barrett or Jen Liese).

New Video Tutorial on Writing Research Papers
We are in the final stages of producing a video tutorial on writing research papers. The topics include gathering sources, reading and annotating, integrating sources, and citation. The tutorial, broken down into multiple short videos, runs 45 minutes overall. We see it as a primer for beginning researcher/writers, designed to make them both more efficient and effective. We emphasize not only basic strategies and conventions but the rationale for engaging responsibly in scholarly conversation. You will find the tutorial on our website later this fall. We hope you will encourage your students to consult it, integrate it into your assignments, and/or schedule a follow-up in-class workshop or Q&A.

Faculty Resources
Our website includes a blog, links, handouts on writing topics, and our online scheduling system. We recently added a “For Faculty” page with recommended resources. We’ve also placed a selection of guides to writing pedagogy in the Faculty Lounge (a more extensive library is just next door in the Writing Center). Finally, we are always happy to talk with individual faculty about constructing effective writing assignments, responding to student writing, teaching writing topics such as argument or documentation, and also about your own writing for publications, lectures, conferences, etc. To consult on your own writing or teaching of writing, please e-mail Jen Liese directly.

For general referrals, we highly appreciate a note on your syllabus (and verbal repetition) to this effect: “I strongly encourage you to reach out to the RISD Writing Center as part of your writing process. The Writing Center is an outstanding resource for all RISD students, staffed by skilled peer tutors. The benefit of having another set of eyes on your writing cannot be underestimated.” If particular students are in need of extra support in writing for any reason (language proficiency, learning differences, strong interest in developing writing skills), please ask them to write directly to Jen Liese, or contact us yourself and let us know the nature of your concern. A direct introduction is much more effective than simply saying “go to the Writing Center”—it makes them accountable and puts them on our radar. For these students, we often suggest regular weekly or biweekly appointments with the same tutor, make recommendations to outside resources, and do all we can to get to know their goals and help them make consistent progress.
Thanks and please come visit any time—College Building, room 240. We look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Jen Liese, Director
Meredith Barrett, Coordinator
Peter Carney, ESL/EAP Writing Specialist
Anne West, Graduate Liaison

Jen Liese, Writing Center

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