Introduce the three of us. We have been given the opportunity to design a plan to help the Writing Center realize its full potential, which we think it has a lot of. The foundation for success has been laid; the Writing Center has many programs that can serve as a powerful resource to students. The only problem is that the students aren’t really sure what those programs are.
-WC has recently moved, construction is still going on, but to be completed soon. -Booking a consultation feels like going to the principal’s office, so students using the WC often wait until a deadline is close before booking an appointment.
To find out more about the issues facing the Writing Center, we spoke with Writing Coaches and students on campus. This process was very helpful in identifying groups of people that would benefit most from hearing about the Writing Center. We learned: -Essays are the most common assignment -ESL students are frequent visitors. -Students are usually very stressed out by the time of the appointment -Some students who enjoy writing don’t necessarily have a reason to write. It’s very important to know which groups of students can benefit most from the Writing Center. That way, we know what messages to send based on their attitudes.
Through surveys distributed on campus, we found that the biggest challenge for students is beginning a paper. This may be why so many people procrastinate in getting started. Students also struggle with other issues pertaining to writing, such as Thesis Development, Source Citations, and Grammar. The Writing Center can help with all of those things. This information gives us some insight on our first Key Audience:
Many students have difficulty with the writing process, which can add stress to assignments. We want them to know they don’t have to struggle. Key Message: The Writing Center can make your life easier!
We found that there is a strong interest among students to form a community of writers on campus. The Writing Center has the potential to become common ground for these people. Key Message: The Writing Center is not just for people who are struggling.
English as a Second Language Students often become frustrated when trying to write in English. The translation adds an extra level of difficulty to the writing process. Key Message: Don’t stress about grammar – the Writing Center can help! Because ESL Students are already visiting the WC, they are somewhat of a secondary audience, but we need to include them because many still have not tried the services offered by the WC.
Our goal is to make the Writing Center known by bringing students “into the loop,” while branding the Writing Center as a friendly, progressive place where writers convene. Several tactics in following slides that will be the methods of achieving this goal
The first tactic to bring students “into the loop” is the production of a Writing Center newsletter, which we have titled “Wordplay” We will draw attention to the page with word games, such as crossword puzzles and jumbles. The content around it should be well written (which we don’t expect to be a problem) and interesting, to keep the reader interested. With this, we can prominently display the news we want students to see, such as event announcements and upcoming programs. We can also draw writers in by featuring student work, which we can hold contests for. This will be the beginning stages of building a community of writers on campus.
We will continue to keep people involved by renovating the website. The current page is visually unappealing. In a world where the majority of people get their information from the internet, an attractive, functional website is key. (click) The new design is pleasing to the eye, and the content management system of Wordpress makes the information easy to update. Fresh information is essential to keep people coming back to the page.
Blogs are one way to constantly add new information, and posts written by coaches give them a chance to showcase their writing styles and skills. Readers will become familiar with the staff before booking an appointment, and will be more likely to do so. We will use Twitter to announce the blog posts.
Twitter has the potential to be a very powerful promotional tool. The Twitter account for Webster University has a following of over 3,000 people. That means when they make an announcement, more than 3,000 newsfeeds are updated with it. Twitter can be a fun way to involve people, too. It can be used to hold contests, like Tweet the best quote you’ve ever heard. Prizes can be small because participation in the contest requires so little effort. We can also use Twitter to announce workshops and events.
Hosting an event is a great way to establish an informal initial connection between the Writing Center and students to generate interest. Many students who eventually seek out the help of the Writing Center feel stressed about the assignment for a long time before making the appointment. We want them to know that they don’t have to wait until they are drowning in homework to pay the Writing Center a visit. The event should be hosted a week before midterms or finals as this is when students are known to get stressed about projects or exams. We propose holding the event on October 6, which would serve not only to fit into midterm’s time, but also to introduce the Writing Center to new students on campus like freshmen and transfer students.
The Writing Center can offer to expand Stress Relief Day to the entire Academic Resource Center. You might also consider co-hosting the event with another organization on campus to help pay for the costs of food and prizes. We have two suggestions: Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs – This group hosts a lot of events and they are always interested in helping ESL students. Student Government Association – The Writing Center is a key student resource, and anxiety around midterms is a big issue among students. Therefore, the SGA might also be interested in becoming involved with Stress Relief Day.
A guest speaker could be a primary activity of the event. The speaker could discuss his or her own experiences in dealing with the stresses of writing such as writer’s block and deadline pressures. Larry Baden is one possible candidate. He is a well-known professor at Webster, and is currently writing a book. Kelly-Kate Pease is another professor of Webster University, and she has coauthored several International Resources textbooks.
In addition to the guest speaker, supplementary activities can be offered. You can also invite Gretchen Karros to lead a relaxation exercise. She teaches yoga here on campus. Word games like Scrabble and Boggle can be played around the center. It could be turned into a competition, with prizes such as gift certificates to Massage Envy, which makes it easy to “Give the Gift of Relaxation”
Over time, readership of the newsletter will grow, and student writing will be submitted frequently. As interest builds, writers will want to be featured in the publication, and the designated inbox will start filling up.
Wordpress has simplified the tracking of blog traffic to the click of a mouse button. The graphs and charts record how many readers view the page and which other websites are referring them there. A spike in this chart clearly demonstrates which topics readers are interested in, which can be very useful in future posts. We expect that as the student writers become involved with Wordplay, they will go online for more interaction, and so the readership of the website and Wordplay will grow together.
Success of the event can be measured not only by attendance, but the overall enjoyment of the students involved. The party should help the attendees feel welcome in the Writing Center, and if it is a big hit, they will pass the message along to their friends.
We would like to see a boost in appointments and more interaction between student writers and the Writing Center. Promoting workshops through the newsletter and website should boost attendance there as well. Overall, we expect that students will become more aware of the Writing Center through this campaign, and its presence on campus will flourish in several different ways. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to work on this project…
Suggested PR for Webster Writing Center
Webster University Writing Center Student Awareness Campaign