Writing center mission

In order to foster and honor diverse voices, we serve all writers at Oklahoma State University and in the surrounding community through collaborative writing consultations, a variety of writing-focused programs and partnerships and community engagement projects. Our staff and consultants are committed to the land-grant mission, which emphasizes instruction, research, and outreach to foster agency and literacy for all people. Inclusion, equity, and accessibility are integral values at the center of our everyday practices that continue to shape our mission, our pedagogy, and our own learning environment.

 Writers

Here at the Writing Center at Oklahoma State University, we value and serve all writers at OSU. Our belief is that every writer, no matter the stage of their career or the stage of their writing, can benefit from having a conversation about writing with our consultants. The writers that make up our center are our own consultants, who are also OSU students, the rest of the OSU population such as OSU faculty and staff members. Regardless of the stage of their career, they all have experience knowing where writers may struggle or where they may need help in their own writing.

Alongside reaching the students, faculty, and staff at OSU, we also serve the writers of the Stillwater community. Some of the writers we serve in Stillwater range from elementary school children in community engagement programs to adults working on resumes and cover letters. Our outreach extends across campus and the community into the digital world, because although our writing center mainly revolves around our face-to-face sessions, we also provide online consultations to ensure that all OSU writers, whether they are studying abroad or are commuter students who need distant writing assistance, can still benefit from having a conversation with our consultants. We want to ensure that our writing center strives to serve and reach all members of the OSU and Stillwater community in order to provide writing support through various modes.

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consultation

The writing center is a space of collaboration and embraces a relational-based pedagogy that focuses on the importance of peer tutoring. In the writing center, our consultants are also writers and readers that you can trust to try out ideas on, to ask questions you are grappling with, to be a second pair of eyes to help refine your writing through discussions on clarity, syntax, and style. We read anything that you are writing, from web design projects and blogs to conference presentations to senior thesis projects.

In a consultation, you meet individually with a writing consultant (face-to-face or online) and can receive guided feedback at any point in your writing process- from brainstorming to polishing. We believe in collaborative learning and our consultants are grounded in writing center theory and pedagogy to help you with your writing through guiding questions, an understanding of genre, purpose, and audience, a focus on writing as a process, and revising techniques in order to best support you with both the paper and with you as a writer.

We view our sessions as conversations and believe in the power of talking about writing in order to empower ourselves as thinkers and writers; through conversation and collaboration, we aim to foster agency and self-efficacy in our writers. We ask that you come in with any materials you are working with and come prepared with specific questions. However, we know that sometimes it is difficult to know where to start and our consultants can help you with that, too!

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community engagement

The Oklahoma State University Writing Center collaborates with a variety of groups within the Stillwater community to bring free, educational programs to the public. Consultants have the opportunity to participate in community engagement programs, working with all age ranges, and disciplines of writing. Program’s aims are to improve others’ literacy and professional development skills through the Writing Center pedagogy. We encourage mutual respect and active listening for co-learning outcomes. Community engagement events are tailored to special interests or needs within the community, and bring value to the learning experience. We believe community engagement is meaningful and important work to create rewarding experiences for the volunteers and program participants through partnerships with schools, museums, libraries, and other community services and programs in Oklahoma.

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 consultants

The Oklahoma State University Writing Center is uniquely qualified to discuss writing at all stages and with all writers because we employ consultants from a variety of backgrounds. Our writing staff is comprised of English graduate students, Writing Across the Curriculum graduate students (WAC), and undergraduate students. Many of our graduate students are experienced instructors, researchers, leaders, and organizers. Our undergraduate students are involved across campus in different majors, research projects, student organizations, and campus leadership.

Through the Writing Center, our consultants are involved in consultations, inquiry groups, research projects, workshops, presentations, and community engagement. Leadership and professional development experiences are also available through facilitating mentor groups, working as assistant directors, and leading research projects. Through an ongoing curriculum focused on pedagogy and writing, and staff education that is built on relevant readings, our consultants are well-versed in pedagogy and effective ways to talk and teach writing. We recognize and promote writing in all fields of study and work which is why we bring in writers from diverse fields to meet the needs of our university.

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 land grant mission

Oklahoma State University is a land-grant university. Land-grant universities were started from the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, where federal land was given to build universities in more rural areas in order to make education more accessible, and included more practical majors such as agriculture. The three primary values of land-grant institutions are research, instruction, and outreach/extension. At the Oklahoma State Writing Center, we embrace all three components of the land-grant mission.

Instruction occurs in our sessions as both the consultant and writer work together and learn from each other in our table sessions. We also lead several workshops each semester on various topics, from writing an abstract, to how to organize and get started on a senior thesis. In addition to workshops that support writing instruction in and outside of the classroom, we also provide instruction in writing retreats and writing fellows programs. These events support writing for for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff.

Research is another important component of the writing center. One of the ways our consultants are actively involved in research is through inquiry groups, which are consultant driven groups who meet to research and discuss different topics that relate to the writing center, such as working with writers in STEM fields, multilingual writers, and antiracism in the Writing Center. Our consultants present their research at conferences and publish their work.

Outreach/extension is an essential component of land-grant institutions, and the writing center embraces that extension and sees it as an integral part of our social justice mission. The writing center has several community engagement projects in the Stillwater community, where we get the opportunity to partner and work with community members of all ages.

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inclusion, equity, and accessibility

The Oklahoma State University Writing Center demonstrates our commitment to equity, inclusion, and accessibility by acknowledging the ways that our institutions (academic and otherwise) have excluded, neglected, and marginalized many community members based on race, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, national origin, language, ethnicity, sex, ability status, socioeconomic status, age, body type, and other aspects of identity, and by seeking to understand and resist those failures both obvious and covert. Because systems of oppression often operate invisibly or under the surface, we seek not only to address intentional forms of oppression, but also to identify and resist the ways that oppression is facilitated and perpetuated through negligence.

The writers we work with and the consultants and staff we employ have diverse bodies, experiences, needs, and ways of learning, and because we believe in the power of language to shape our world, we reject rhetoric that denigrates others based on any identity category.We seek to critique and counteract both individual and structural oppression in order to create a safer, more just university by educating ourselves about systems of oppression and marginalization, fostering conversation and community learning around those topics, developing professional and academic practices that respond to the needs of historically marginalized communities and individuals, and holding ourselves accountable to the ongoing process of learning and becoming more equitable, inclusive, and accessible.

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 pedagogy

Your knowledge matters. Your thinking matters. And your writing matters. At the writing center we pride ourselves on collaborative learning. What that means is that the consultant is the guide and the client is in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Learning and improving your writing can be fun, especially if we work together on parts of the document that you have questions or concerns on.

Writing Center pedagogy is inherently peer-oriented. If one of the main purposes of the Writing Center as an institution is to help create better writers and not better writing, then we, as consultants, need to abandon two strains of traditional pedagogy: instructor-student and tutor-student. The word "consultant" is key, I think, in that it differentiates us from tutors. The word "tutor" implies that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about completing an assignment; it implies that there is an answer. The word "consultant," however, implies a conversation--how do student writers get to where they need to be without having someone else dictate exact steps to them?

We would also do well to remember that Writing Center pedagogy is not unrelated to pedagogy theory and criticism.   To that end, we should be training our consultants to be versed in contemporary pedagogy and conversations surrounding the teaching of writing through readings and regular training sessions. Acknowledging the connection of consulting to teaching will help serve the student-writers in addition to the consultants, as it will be a reminder that writing--including writing about writing--is ever-changing and should adapt to the appropriate educational setting.

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