Writing Centers and Tribal Colleges

For this last blog post, I chose to use this space to reflect and discuss my final project for this class, Comp. Theory.

To begin, my seminar paper is about Tribal colleges, communal space as a means to bridge the gap between orality and literacy. I had planned on focusing on the library as a means to host programs to help increase literacy in combination with orality, but finally having read about writing centers, I believe that writing centers may be the key to solving the problem of literacy among Tribal Colleges.

In Neal Lerner’s essay on writing centers, he claims, “Almost every two and four year post secondary institution in the United States has a writing center or of some sort, whether aligned with an academic department or student services” (301). The key word in that sentence is “almost”. The Tribal College that I attended while receiving my Associates degree did not have a writing center. They had a math center with someone available to help at any level of math, but by no means had a writing center.

This led me to think, would a writing center help this unique college with literacy? I know writing centers are not meant to fix all, but I do believe that it could help these students in improving their writing skills, mechanics, and process.

To further discuss this issue of writing centers and connect it to my initial point of communal space of the library could in fact be the library and the writing center and linking them together. The writing center could be located within library. This brings to raise the next questions, which library; the public library or college library? If the public library were to have a writing center this would open new doors to eventually having a public writing center. But how would a public writing center work? Would this public writing center take business (students) away from the college? Would it disinterest students in going to college since they can learn what they need to learn about writing through the public writing center?

Secondly, if the college were to have a writing center within its library, would the library be the right environment to host a writing center? One of my arguments could be that the writing center be help in room within the library so tutoring does not disrupt students.

The idea that I love about writing centers is that they encourage peer to peer tutoring as opposed solely to teacher to student engagement. “The peer to peer dynamic offers insider knowledge and empathy that teacher student conferences might lack, and the non-evaluative aspect of writing center work- in that the tutor is not grading the student’s paper- frees the interaction from a significant constraint”(304).

This could be highly beneficial for students attending Tribal Colleges because it would create an atmosphere where the student is gaining insight from a former peer. The insight from a peer may prove to be far more beneficial to learning in a relaxed environment where the students have the space to learn without the pressures of being judged, graded or ridiculed for how they may read, write or even speak as this is a unique set of Native American students who are usually shy, timid and fear judgment and ridicule. At least, this has been my experience of attending a Tribal College and I am sure many others attending Tribal Colleges that are on or near reservations feel the same.

Recap on questions:

  1. Could a writing center help a Tribal College?
  2. Which library would the writing center most benefit, the public library that is off campus, or the college’s library?
  3. Is a library the right environment for a writing center?
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About hflute

Heather is currently teaching two sections of English 120 at NDSU while on a journey through academic enlightenment through the path of English Composition. She is passionate about reading a variety of books and is always excited to become encapsulated in an engaging research project. She also loves coffee and puns.

One thought on “Writing Centers and Tribal Colleges

  1. I think that your question about the location of the writing center is interesting. Working at the CFW, I do value its location in the library because we often send students to librarians for help with their research. Of course, we could do this if we were in the union as well, but I think it is convenient for the students to have their research materials and support services in one building. Additionally, since the library is often a space where students work on their writing, it is convenient for them to be able to walk over to the writing center if they encounter a need for feedback. On the other hand, we probably would benefit from being in a more trafficked area, so there may not be a definitive answer.


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