BLC’s hidden gem “fostering student success”

“Fostering Student Success,” printed above the whiteboard in The Writing Studio, reflects the ideas and values that drive their style of tutoring.

By Nicoletta Feldman

The second floor of the Bart Luedeke Center is home to an extremely valuable academic resource.

Nestled behind the tall, double glass doors at the end of the hallway sits the Writing Studio — the existence of which, many are unaware of.

The Writing Studio is housed within the Academic Success Center, and their services reach far beyond helping with a typical five-paragraph essay.

Writing Studio coordinator Amy Atkinson stressed the importance of “writing across the disciplines” — the idea that assistance can be provided to anyone, regardless of the class or subject area.

“We do our very best to make sure that the tutors are all trained to handle any discipline that walks through the door,” Atkinson said. “If one person with a bio lab report walks through the door in an academic year, that’s one person we need to be able to help.”

Aside from academic assignments, career-related documents such as cover letters and personal statements can also be brought in to the Writing Studio, even after graduation.

“You can come back and say, ‘I’m a Rider alum, and I would like some help,’ and we will get you that help,” Atkinson said.

No matter the case, the Writing Studio’s tutoring style holds the same. 

Rather than placing an emphasis on simply editing assignments, tutors use a facilitative approach to assist students — at any stage in the writing process — while keeping the focus on what Atkinson calls “higher order concerns”: the thesis statement, clarity and structure of the assignment and supporting arguments.

“Instead of sliding the paper across the table to us, where we take a pen and we start marking it up, we actually discuss with the students what their concerns are, where they are in their drafting process,” Atkinson said.      The facilitative method used within the Writing Studio, as described by Atkinson, is more about guiding the student than telling them what to do.

“We want to foster and foster independent learning,” Atkinson said. “The tutors don’t graduate with the students. The students go off to their careers and they have to be skillful.”

Sophomore education major Maura Telfer frequented the Writing Studio last year and saw the effects of such an approach firsthand.

“I went to the same couple people, and they would recognize a pattern of, ‘You always forget verb tenses,’ which is an issue for me,” Telfer said. “It made me recognize it in my own writing, so, eventually, I was able to recognize the patterns of mistakes that I’ve had.”

For tutors, modeling is a frequently-used technique that falls within the facilitative method, used especially when a student has little experience with the type of writing they’ve been asked to do.

“If they’ve never written a literature review, and if we’ve been fortunate enough to do that, we might have to model a little bit of what some of the language is,” Atkinson said. 

Available to help are both student and professional tutors, each group boasting a different set of strengths and qualifications.

“The student tutors come highly recommended by their professors and hold a GPA of 3.25 or higher,” Atkinson said. “I want to make sure we have the best of the best in there.”

On the other hand, the professional tutors “hold advanced degrees,” according to Atkinson, and often specialize in certain areas, such as reading, writing, study strategies and ESL.

Appointments are one-on-one with a tutor and typically last 50 minutes. They can be made online through TutorTrac, over the phone, by email or by visiting the Writing Studio in person.

For quicker concerns, drop-in hours are available, during which students only spend 15 to 20 minutes working with a tutor.

Drop-in hours take place Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. in the Writing Studio and on Sundays from 6-8 p.m. in Fine Arts 263.

Atkinson also invites students to reach out to her if they have any questions or concerns.

“Students can come and talk to me and I’m happy to describe what we do and how we do it and even get them set up with a tutor for the very first time,” she said.

No matter the appointment type, Atkinson continually emphasized the studio’s desire to help students grow as writers, regardless of what level of writing they are currently capable of.

“It’s okay to not be Pulitzer Prize-winning writers right out of the gate,” she said. “It’s okay to be in a place where you need to learn what it means to write in academia. It takes time and it takes a lot of practice.”

All services provided through the Writing Studio are free to Rider students and alumni.

The Writing Studio is located in BLC suite 237. They can be reached by phone at (609) 896-5008 or by email at academicsuccesscenter@rider.edu. 

A link to TutorTrac can be found on the Rider website under the Student tab.

 

 

Published in the 9/19/18 edition.

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