New Writing Center Leaves a Mark at SMC

In Drescher Hall, room 315, a small group of English professors has set-up shop to help students further develop and refine their writing skills. Dubbed the "Writing Center Pilot Project," this new program differs from the other existing writing/tutoring services currently offered on campus.

The Project Coordinator, SMC professor Jason Beardsley, says (unlike the English and Humanities Tutoring Service offered nearby, and the ESL tutoring service) this program is primarily designed to act as departmental research to see if a writing tutorial course should be offered by the school, specifically to students taking English 21A-the English fundamentals class many students must take, in addition to English 21B, before moving on to English 1.

"We are working closely with English 21A instructors," Professor Beardsley says, "to decide if a tutoring course would be desirable and useful to students." But it is not just instructors who are being asked what they think about the writing center, or what they would like it to become. "Students can provide input on what kind of program they would like," says Beardsley.

The project's origins go back to an English department meeting late in the fall 2007 semester, where one of the many agenda items was-according to Beardsley-"look into more ways to provide tutoring." Then in his first semester of teaching at SMC, Professor Beardsley decided to volunteer for the task.

After doing some initial research, including paying a visit to the writing center at San Jose State University, Professor Beardsley got together with a select group of faculty members to determine what the program would look like. After several semesters of planning, it officially got under way on March 9.

Since opening its doors, the program has seen many students come in looking for help with their writing. "[The number of students] grows each week," Professor Beardsley says. Currently, the average is about 12 students per day.

And, so far, the project seems to be a success, at least for some of the students participating in the program.

"I find it very helpful," said Julia Lopez, a student who has visited the writing center on a few occasions.

Jahmar Maxwell, a business major at SMC, feels he has benefited from the writing center, too. "I got some good tips," he said, after a meeting with one of the professors.

Whether or not the program will evolve into an actual course is still up in the air. But, until then, Professor Beardsley and the other instructors working in the center are happy to assist students who drop in, including directing them to the other campus tutoring services if it's required. "My goal," Professor Beardsley says, "is to help the students."

The writing center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday. It is located in room 315, on the third floor of Drescher Hall.