who are continuing to seek out support with writing and
learning are continuing to do better than those who don’t,
which is pretty nice to see,” he added.
For the 2014–15 academic year, the Writing Lab drew
2,192 users for a total of 5,317 visits. There were more
than 4,000 one-on-one consultations between students
and the 26 tutors and five support staff members in the
lab. Students can make appointments for a free, half-hour
tutorial to discuss any aspect of writing. Tutors work with
undergraduates and graduate students from all of Purdue’s
colleges and schools, making the resource relevant for just
about everyone studying at Purdue.
And to make accessing the Writing Lab even more
convenient, Purdue students can now use online scheduling
to make appointments, uploading documents and chatting
with tutors through the platform before and after their
sessions in the lab.
Chirag Patel, a senior in the College of Science, turned
to the Writing Lab last year for help on applications for
summer internships and entrance into medical school. He’s
studying neurobiology and physiology at Purdue, and while
he considers himself a “pretty good writer,” he wanted
“It was extremely helpful,” Patel says. “I’m very science-
oriented with my thinking. The people in the lab…have a
much more language-oriented mindset. They picked out a
lot of the diction I used and gave me a different perspective
on my writing.”
“The tutors were always very friendly and very helpful,”
he adds. “I always try to spread the word to my friends.”
In addition to personalized consultations, the Writing
Lab offers more than 300 instructional handouts on writing
skills and common writing issues. They are available
in print and at the Online Writing Lab (OWL), a server
that allows users to download writing resources, which
launched in 1993 as an extension of the physical lab. The
Writing Lab also has a You Tube channel with video lessons
on several aspects of writing.
The Writing Lab offers an extensive library of books,
journals, and reference materials. In-lab and in-class
workshops on writing skills, English as a Second Language
resources, and a computer writing facility are also
available. “It’s transforming,” Denny says, to meet the
demands of current users.
Tutors learn too
Students who want to work as tutors in the Purdue Writing
Lab must complete rigorous training. Undergraduate
students take a semester-long course that teaches
instructional methods around the tutoring of writing and
the writing process. Graduate student tutors must have
worked for a year teaching an introductory composition
course, Denny says. Tutors also complete small group
About 60 percent of the current tutors are graduate
students from the Department of English; others are
students working as undergraduate teaching assistants or
business writing consultants.
Richard Severe was a Writing Lab tutor from 2005–10
while he was a graduate student at Purdue. “It was great.
It gave me a lot of opportunities to engage with not only
my peers, but also undergraduate writers,” Severe says.
“I learned professional development skills, and the
mentorship I got was especially beneficial for me.”
After graduating from Purdue, Severe joined the
English Department at Centenary College in New Jersey.
There, he was asked to start a writing lab, so he built
one based on what he’d learned in Purdue’s lab. He tried
to mirror the sense of community and mentorship he’d
experienced at the Purdue Writing Lab. He even tapped
Associate Director Tammy Conard-Salvo to consult as he
developed the Centenary College lab.
“The structure and the professionalism of the lab were
things I wanted to be able to replicate,” Severe says. “And
the sense of community came from how we interacted with
one another.…It was just the ‘writing center family.’ We
really got along and worked with each other.”
Severe is returning to Indiana this fall, to join
Valparaiso University’s English Department as an associate
professor. He plans to continue implementing lessons he’s
taken from the Purdue lab.