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Writing Centre Celebrates Eleven Years of Success


Writing Centre Celebrates 11 Years of Success



In the autumn of 2001, Jonathan Worley, originally from New Jersey, USA, was appointed to teach on the newly established Liberal Arts Degree programme at St Mary’s and given the task of creating a writing centre. Eleven years later, the success of the St Mary’s Writing Centre, a vastly expanded and now mature element of the College’s provision, continues to meet the needs of all the College’s students. “We now regularly see over 700 students per year coming to the Writing Centre for appointments,” Jonathan commented, “and each visit represents a unique opportunity to help one student better define and develop his or her writing.”

The Writing Centre annually recruits approximately two dozen student tutors who undergo ten hours of training before beginning to tutor other students individually. Students volunteer from a broad spectrum of academic subjects making the Writing Centre truly interdisciplinary.

Jonathan continued, “I never cease to be impressed by the quality and dedication of our student tutors. They freely give of their time and skills, assisting not only the Writing Centre, but the community of St Mary’s as a whole.”

The Writing Centre’s pedagogy is strongly student-centred in the tradition of the well-known American writing instructor Donald Murray (who established the writing programme at the University of New Hampshire). A student tutor begins every session by asking the student to comment on particular concerns, and the tutor listens very carefully to these comments. The tutor then brings his or her own expertise and experience to the particular piece of writing while at the same time encouraging the student to make his or her own decisions.

The Liberal Arts Programme’s keen support for a writing centre became the foundation for initial funding from the English Subject Centre (part of the Higher Education Academy). This success subsequently led to the designation of the Writing Centre as a national Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

The Writing Centre also has been a significant source of scholarship. Student tutors at the Writing Centre have made presentations at international conferences in both the United States and England, while the College’s lecturing staff have published articles on the Centre’s work.

“St Mary’s is about the development of the whole person, and our writing centre pays close attention to the individual,” Jonathan said, “but we also look outwards to society. In our second decade of service to our students and their writing, we look forward to learning about our graduates’ contributions to the world-at-large, contributions made, in part, through their work as successful writers.”