Writing center introduces workshops

Katie Fata

 The Illinois Wesleyan University Writing Center (IWUWC) has been under new direction for almost an entire school year and with that guidance, new initiatives have been introduced. 

Dr. Anna Scanlon, IWUWC’s current director, has focused her energy in introducing a series of workshops sponsored by the Center. 

Previously working at Marquette University’s Writing Center, Scanlon came from an environment where workshops were considered a key component in helping students’ writing.

“It seemed to me an important way to remove the stigma of the writing center as only a remedial place or a place that only helps “bad” writers,” Scanlon said. 

When interviewing for IWU’s new director, she was adamant about introducing workshops to campus. 

Once Scanlon was hired, she began brainstorming her initiative. As she got to know her colleagues, writing center staff and IWU’s students, she realized there were far more opportunities in regards to workshop possibilities than she had initially expected. 

“Initially I was thinking of more general workshops like the sort that delve into things like citation style, paragraph form and college-level writing expectations. 

“Now, we’ve ended up with APA workshops, a writing process workshop and a workshop on creating writing beyond receiving a grade,” Scanlon said. 

According to Scanlon, the workshops are purposefully low-stakes. Students don’t have to have any writing to come to the workshops. They just need to have a willingness to listen. 

Scanlon has also begun collaborating with faculty in order to hold workshops specific to certain disciplines such as Sociology and Anthropology. 

Coming from Marquette, a mid-sized university, Scanlon wasn’t expecting a huge turnout rate. 

“At Marquette, I’d be grateful to see six students in a workshop despite the larger size of the university but here, that’s the low end of the spectrum as the one we hosted last night had 18 students,” Scanlon said. 

Scanlon and her staff have also been actively working to improve as the workshops are rolled out. According to Scanlon, timing is one specific aspect they’d like to work on going forward. Namely, Scanlon plans to be cautious about workshopping one topic too often in a semester such as citation styles. 

We have to be careful not to inundate people with citation workshops, especially if we want to avoid the notion of ourselves as human citation machines,” Scanlon said. 

Scanlon also plans to map trends for what people come in needing the most help regarding during the first few weeks in order to design further workshops. 

Outside of workshops, Scanlon is also dedicated to introducing a number of other changes. 

“We’d love to be open during future May Terms and would like to begin offering some of our services to local high school juniors and seniors and their instructors,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon’s goal going forward is to broaden what the Writing Center is known for and, according to her, workshops are the first step in making the Center more approachable. 

“We’re a place to talk about writing, brainstorm ideas, learn about your writing process and read over where you are and where you can go,” Scanlon said. 

The Center’s next workshop will be held on creative writing on March 3 at 5 p.m.