The Miller Writing Center is a tool available weekly to all students in locations across campus. It is meant to be a place for all students to bring any form of writing, from lab reports to thesis papers to collaborate with another student to improve their writing.
“We do see students from across all departments," said James Truman, the assistant director of the writing center. "For the first time [last fall] we had a majority of engineering students using the writing center.”
Truman said 22-25 percent of appointments are with graduate students and most of them are in STEM disciplines.
“About 40 percent are students in English classes which are generally composition or world literature classes," Truman said.
To assist with the diverse set of majors coming to the writing center, all the writing center consultants are Auburn undergraduate and graduate students across a variety of disciplines. This allows students to be able to find a consultant with a similar major to make the writing process more helpful.
Freshman in biochemistry, Jacob Sinopoli, used the writing center multiple times this semester for his history class.
“I have used it for history papers concerning the analysis of primary resources," Sinopoli said. "This is a big subject of discussion in my history 1017 class.”
The writing center is not only for a final check and rather meant to be used as a helpful tool throughout the writing process.
“The goal of any writing center consultation is that it is built around conversation," Truman said. "Wherever you are in the writing process of this particular project, having someone who can give you thoughtful feedback about where you are and what choices you can be making will always help you.”
The consultant will first discuss with the student what they are working on and what they want to work on in their appointment. Then they will figure out what the best way to give feedback to the student is, whether that is reading quietly, out-loud or another method.
After the consultant has read through the writer’s piece, they will start to ask questions about what the student wants to communicate through their writing. Together the consultant and student will come up with a plan to further the student’s writing on the piece and their writing skills as a whole.
“That goal of being a partner and a collaborator [is] to be able to help the writer think through what they’re trying to say and how they’re going to make choices to communicate more effectively,” Truman said. "It’s a peer thing, we’re not here to be another teacher we’re here to work with you."
Truman said it is intended to be a partnership and collaboration between the student and the consultant.
“I have had two great experiences with the writing center, the process was fairly similar for both," Sinopoli said. "I brought in my essay and I went through it with an advisor. We talked over strengths and weaknesses and went over any questions I still had.”
Truman said it is the center's goal to help people become writers rather than just improve their writing. There is a focus on making sure people are developing their writing skills.
“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in Chicago style, something I had never done before," Sinopoli said. "I had been used to MLA but history tends to deal with the Chicago method, which I knew nothing about before going to the writing center.”
Appointments are required when trying to use the writing center because many students are searching for help in their writing.
“It varies week to week, but we have about 2,500 to 2,700 appointments a year which is about 1,500 students a semester because people come more than once," Truman said. "We average about 2.2 appointments per student.”
To accommodate all these appointments, the writing center opens early in the semester and is open most days of the week. This accommodation is more applicable for graduate students who have different deadlines.
Truman said in the past, students who have used the Miller Writing Center have higher grade point averages.
“As a student, my biggest weakness is writing," Sinopoli said. "With the MWC, I feel like they’ve helped me to write with more confidence which in turn, has led to improved scores.”