Dr. Shireen Campbell
I am inspired by change. When my college went remote in March, our traditional face-to-face (F2F) Writing Center approach shifted to virtual sessions. In June, the college committed to F2F, hybrid, and remote fall classes and decided to enhance support by embedding fellows in first-year writing courses, which would potentially impact need for writing center services.
Thanks to rich conversations with an Associated Colleges of the South summer working group, I reaffirmed what mattered most—available, effective writing support—and changed long-standing practice, including:
- developing a new Center portal in our campus learning management system to address student complaints about campus platform proliferation;
- shifting consultant training from the semester beginning to weekly meetings this summer via zoom;
- extending shadowing requirements for new consultants before scheduling them on the assumption of initial reduced demand;
- adding an asynchronous option to support students studying remotely;
- doubling the standard session time to accommodate increased rapport-building and technical glitches.
Seven weeks in, as compared to last fall, the Center has experienced a 13% increase in use of available hours despite an 18% reduction in total hours. As predicted, we have seen fewer clients, driven by a 25% reduction in first-year writing course sessions. Yet individual sessions are longer, with a 46% increase in sessions lasting an hour.
This long-time director believes that changes have reinvigorated center practices. When residential campus life returns to pre-covid F2F norms, our center will continue new training strategies and offer F2F and remote (synchronous and asynchronous) sessions to meet student needs.