Promoting Writing Centers
Sponsor an event on campus
Especially during the first few weeks of a semester a social event to introduce the newer students to the writing center can be effective in getting the word out to new students and returning students who may be unaware of the writing center’s existence. From my experience, if an event offers free food the turn out is likely to have more students show up. Even if their initial motivation is to show up for the free food, they are still exposed to the writing center while they are there. This can also be helpful in getting the students to emerge from the dorm rooms and interacting with other students. Another benefit of introducing the writing staff in a social situation is it makes them feel more accessible to the student and takes away some of the fear that they would have about approaching a stranger to help them with their paper. If they see that the staff is friendly then they would be more likely to come to them later when help was truly needed.
Create an informational video
Team up with the school’s film/drama department/s to make a video that illustrates what the writing center does. Perhaps showing a student that is having problems with writing a paper and then that student goes to the writing center and has someone help them. This video can be shown during new/transfer student orientation and/or attached to the course catalogs that get mailed out to prospective students.
Have an open house at the beginning of the semester
Invite students into the writing center and let them interact with the tutors and other writing center employees. One of the main reasons why students often refuse to get help for a homework issue is they are embarrassed about needing help or perhaps even a little scared of what they don’t know. If they see that the writing center is nothing to be scared of and the employees are really only there to help them, they may be more likely to seek help when they need it.
Hold weekly workshops, advertise those workshops
The staff of the writing center can get together and identify several of the more common issues students have with their writing papers. Have weekly workshops that address these issues where the students can learn not only from the staff, but from others students. If they have a question that they are wary about asking, chances are someone else has that same question. It is likely that at least one of the students will ask their question. One student asks and both students are helped. Another idea is for the instructors to invite the writing staff to help design a workshop for a specific class. The Franklin & Marshall College writing center (1) offers this option to the faculty of its college to help facilitate the learning process. The writing center can help the instructor when they are looking for additional ways to improve their classes.
Team up with other departments to do cross promotions
Find other departments on campus that would like to team up with the writing center to promote awareness of both programs on campus. Perhaps there is a social organization on campus that is looking to be of use to the students. Use their desire to help to your advantage.
Salt Lake Community College has a feature on their website and in their writing center called Grammar Gardener. (http://www.slcc.edu/cwc/grammargardener.asp) This is a feature that is highlighted in their writing center and their website. They set aside a certain time each week for their resident grammar expert to answer questions from the student/population. They also accept questions submitted to them via the internet from different people about grammar usage. They respond during this weekly time and also choose certain questions to post on their websites each week.
The International Writing Center Association has the following on their website about publicity for the writing center. “The type and extent of the publicity in large measure determine the success of the writing center, thus calling for creative publicity. Writing centers use ads and articles in the school newspaper and/or radio station, signs around the school and in dorms, brochures distributed around campus and in classes, announcements by teachers, table tents in cafeterias, visits to classes, tee-shirts, open houses, tours, testimonials of previous students, souvenirs (e.g. pencils, visors, balloons, or bookmarks with relevant information about the center), and writing contests.”
http://writingcenters.org/slate.htm http://www.fandm.edu/x9384.xml http://www.marist.edu/writingcenter/workshop.html http://www2.shastacollege.edu/wc/eduworkshops.htm http://www.slcc.edu/cwc/grammargardener.asp