Center Helps Students and Employees with High Stakes Writing

There’s writing, and then there’s high stakes writing.

It’s the difference between removing a splinter and removing a lung. Or writing a text and writing a personal statement.

NEOMED’s new Writing Center can help with high stakes writing that affects career trajectories:

  • match portfolios,
  • personal statements,
  • CVs,
  • manuscripts,
  • scholarship applications,
  • dissertations,
  • speeches,
  • essays for class,
  • grant proposals,
  • journal articles,
  • poster presentations and more.

“There’s a growing need here for writing support and coaching,” said Julie Aultman, Ph.D., interim dean/vice dean for the College of Graduate Studies, professor of family and community medicine and one of many champions of the center. “I kept receiving requests from students asking me to review personal statements and similar drafts. Other faculty members noticed the same, and they were struggling to fit them in. We began to have conversations campus-wide about how a writing center would benefit students and their prospects; we pooled resources and applied for Strategic Initiative Funding to get this off the ground.”

Proof of concept

The center, located in the library, is in proof-of-concept mode today, meaning hours are limited as the University tests demand and studies user evaluations. The early results are good: Demand is high (with waits of a week or more for an appointment) and user surveys have been appreciative.

“The post-session surveys are so important,” said Craig Theissen, M.Ed./L., director of the Learning Center, which houses the Writing Center. “The survey data will help us improve the service and potentially extend our hours if we can show that students and others value the Writing Center.”

Appointment required

The Writing Center is open to students, faculty and staff 20 hours per week. Appointments are required. The center’s website describes how to make an appointment.

The Writing Center lead is Brian Harrell, a writing specialist in Student Services (pictured above with two students). Harrell has taught classes at NEOMED since 2018. He has a master’s degree in English Composition and his research interests are online pedagogy, writing center theory, first-year composition and the rhetoric of health and medicine.

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