In continuing the land grant mission of OSU, we also actively explore avenues of improvement not only to our consulting sessions, but also in how we are perceived in the community as a whole. As a result, we have a couple research projects currently in development with a few more on the horizon. One is in regards to the inclusivity of the LGBT community in the Writing Center, and the other is focused on the College of Engineering’s relationship with the WC. The following outlines the motivation behind each project and what is being done right now to help further each.
Galen Bunting is a first year M.A. student: he heads up the “LGBT+ Writers and Tutors within the Writing Center” research project. He hopes to center Oklahoma State University’s geographical and cultural background while exploring the position of the SafeZone tutor within the broader context of the Writing Center, especially when confronting homophobic attitudes within writing, and hopes to explore ways in which the OSU Writing Center can uplift and reach out to LGBT+ students. To pursue this research question, he plans to interview OSU’s SafeZone tutors, and to examine studies of LGBT+ tutors and students. He also plans to measure student opinions (LGBT+ and otherwise) of the presence of SafeZone tutors on the Writing Center’s website via survey.
ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) is a governing body that decides the baseline of whether a program meets standards to produce graduates who are entering “critical technical fields” (Abet.org). Aside from general knowledge of the applied sciences and theories that govern the engineering field, a key factor that determines the value of an engineer is the quality of writing one can produce. ABET requires written reports, both individual and group, during a student’s undergrad to try and prepare students as much as possible for the amount and type of writing they will be doing in industry.
Despite these requirements, we don’t see many STEM majors coming to the Writing Center. Each student, engineering or not, has to write many pages throughout their time at OSU, and by coming here, each student has a chance to improve their writing. This has not historically been the case of the engineering department. The goal of this project is to increase engineering student involvement with the Writing Center to better prepare them for the multitude of reports and presentations each will have to produce in their careers.
A new facet being implemented in our WC this Fall is the addition of inquiry groups. Inquiry groups are consultant-led, informal discussions where our staff can engage in small group conversations without fear of ridicule on a wide variety of topics. For a given group, there will be an overarching topic that will be discussed, but given the informal basis of the discussion, the direction can be changed to go any which way. We believe this will enable our staff to think critically about the happenings of our center, analyzing areas of improvement, common problems encountered, and ways to increase outreach to typically underrepresented locales on campus. Our goal with these inquiry groups is to foster strong enough informal discussion about a topic that more information might be needed to address it, which would be a great lead-in to a new area of research.