In the consultations (both in the Writing Center and on-line) that constitute much of our daily work, we strive to accomplish the following:
- To maintain a conversationalist’s environment: We talk with writers about their ideas and purposes, not just at writers about their problems and errors.
- To foster independent learning: We assume that authority belongs to authors, not to consultants; therefore, we keep our hands off our clients’ papers as we ask questions intended to help writers develop their ideas, to experiment with stylistic choices, and to identify and solve problems in their papers.
- To act as advocates for students, not as assistants to professors: We’re concerned with helping students set and accomplish their own writing agendas within the constraints of the writing situations they face.
- To aid students in developing an academic voice and to edit their own work for departures from standard usage: Although we’re not a “fix-it” shop, we help writers recognize patterns of expression and punctuation considered incorrect in academic and professional settings.
- To develop our own effectiveness as readers and tutors by keeping current with professional Writing Center research and by conducting our own projects: The Writing Center sponsors a certification process that assists tutors in evaluating their effectiveness and in improving their effectiveness by participating in projects for professional development.
- To assess our progress in maintaining these goals through both self-evaluation and student feedback: Since we are students ourselves, we have a unique opportunity to learn from and to understand the responses and concerns of our peers.
In seeking to accomplish the above goals, we believe theorist Stephen North’s famous assertion that writing centers should seek to create an environment that is “athletic and not surgical.” Thus, we invite our clients to exercise with us a democratic educational practice that advances SUU’s institutional commitment to affirming “integrity, the search for truth and respect for all people,” even as it promotes the practical development of communication and leadership skills.