By Gregory A. White
Peer tutors at the Writers’ Corner draw students into their room by the smell of coffee, according to Tam Duong, a biology major and tutor.
The Writers’ Corner is a place where students can go to get help from a tutor with their English papers or other writing.
“It’s kind of surprising that I’d work here, but I enjoy it. It’s fun,” Duong said.
Frank Sobey, an assistant professor and director of Writers’ Corner, said, “Students come to us for help on their papers or for help on the writing process.”
“The room is very unique, you know. We have lamp lighting instead of the overhead fluorescents,” said Charlie Clark, Writers’ Corner supervisor.
“The Writers’ Corner helps students basically from the brainstorming process if they don’t even have a topic yet all the way up to the final draft if need be,” he said.
Clark said peer tutors help not only with English papers but with any kind of classroom paper that involves writing.
Qualifications of tutors include earning an A or B in Freshman Composition I and II, getting an English professor’s recommendation and taking a grammar quiz.
“If they don’t understand it, we do guide them. We do not show you guys, because showing is a harder way to teach,” Duong said.
Tutors try not to use negative reinforcement as part of their teaching technique, said Jessica Gutierrez, a nursing major and tutor.
The Writers’ Corner location once was a boarded-up, unused room, Clark said. It was transformed by request of English department faculty using a contest with the interior design department, and it opened in summer 2010.
“They wanted a place that was very relaxing and welcoming that wouldn’t intimidate students so they could actually come in here and ask for help,” Clark said.
Students get writing help by walking into the Writers’ Corner or by making an appointment to see a tutor.
“We do group presentations where we’ll tell an entire class of students what we do and what services they can take advantage of, but really what we offer is one-on-one peer tutoring,” said Eric Dennis, an education major and student.
The success of the Writers’ Corner has grown over time.
“Each semester we have more and more tutoring sessions than the semester prior, which for most people is considered to be a success because more people are taking us up on the offer,” he said.
The Writers’ Corner also helps faculty members.
Faculty may send a student to the Writers’ Corner to work in-depth on a topic because a faculty member’s busy schedule prevents time for tutoring.
“They just don’t have enough time to talk with all of their students one on one,” Clark said.
“In the previous semesters, I came in for help extensively. I needed someone to look over my paper. So I came in here, and eventually it became a thing, and my writing improved,” Duong said.
Duong said as the writing improved, he became a tutor.
“The most important thing I took away from that was that boost in confidence,” he said. “You grow as a writer, and your confidence grows. So you have to believe that you can write.”
Brittany Delano, a sign language interpreting major, said the Writers’ Corner has helped her improve her writing structure on papers. She said her English composition class came to the Writers’ Corner, and she was told they offered free help.
“Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do; that’s admitting that you don’t know something,” Clark said. “And for some people, that’s really hard to do, but if we create a nice environment for them, they’re more likely to come in.”
The Writer’s Corner is in 102 Ordway Hall, next to the Student Service Center, where students register for classes.