WRITING CENTER PROMOTES ACADEMIC RESEARCH AT UMO

MOUNT OLIVE- The Writing Center at the University of Mount Olive (UMO) was created by Quality Enhancement Program director Dr. Alexis Poe Davis and a vision to promote higher levels of academic writing throughout the institution. Davis has taken the Writing Center from a small dream into a reality with the help of her coordinator, six student writing coaches, and numerous volunteers. This semester has been particularly exciting for the Writing Center with different research and conventions for the staff.

Davis, Brianka Morgan, the Writing Center coordinator, and Luke Hill, a student Writing Coach, recently traveled to Orlando, FL to present their research on student involvement in a Writing Center context at an international conference.

“The conference was enlightening,” said Davis. “It was a joint conference presented by the International Writing Centers Association and the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing and gave us inspiration to take back to our Center. Our presentation was titled ‘Everyday Magic: The Role of Peer Writing Tutors in Drawing Students to the Writing Center’ and focused on how the UMO Writing Center and Writing Coaches can bring students into the Center without being mandated to attend.”

“It was the first academic conference that I have ever attended,” said Writing Coach, Hill. “It was a great opportunity to learn about Writing Center theories and further myself as a coach and as a scholar.”

The third attendee at the conference, Morgan, noted, “The conference gave me insight on how to promote our Writing Center here at UMO and developed my ideas on how to better provide our services to non-traditional students and English language learner (ELL) students.”

Additionally, five of the six student Writing Coaches are new to the Writing Center and are taking a course to learn about the different theories, developments, and research associated with Writing Centers. A portion of the class is dedicated to the five students developing their own research projects to conduct, analyze, and present in hopes to assess and better accommodate the students of UMO.

The research projects include assessing the UMO faculty and staff perceptions of the Writing Center, assessing students’ misconceptions in the writing process, and assessing students’ writing improvement after a coaching session. These five students, Jessica Kennedy, Kierston Matheson, Jenny Hall, Emily Shaw, and Caley Breese, have been accepted to present their research projects at the Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference in Nashville, TN in February.

“Going through the IRB process for my project and conducting real research has taught me more than I ever would have imagined,” said Hall, a senior English education major from Mount Olive. “This opportunity will help me in my future teaching career and open the doors for possible publications.”

“As Writing Coaches, we are always trying to find new ways to grow and improve our coaching sessions, so this research is promoting our improvement,” said Matheson, a senior English communications major from Boone. “The research opportunity is also an asset as I begin to apply to graduate schools.”

Davis is excited for the future development of the Writing Center. “I see the Writing Center as an incubator for professionalization and mentoring of peer Writing Coaches. I hope to continue to nurture the talent I see in our Coaches and to encourage the camaraderie I see among them,” said Davis. “I would like to see our research promote the Writing Center as a go-to place for writing assistance for all students, both traditional and non-traditional, and all instructors. I’d especially like to expand our services for our adult learners at our locations across North Carolina.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit www.umo.edu.

Pictured (L-R):  Luke Hill, Dr. Alexis Poe Davis and Brianka Morgan.