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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Writing Center finds success serving students remotely

Maria Volemsky on campus at City College in Sacramento, CA on Thursday March 18, 2021. (photo: Meegan Williamson/[email protected])

co-written by Monica Galvis | Staff Writer | [email protected]

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Maria Volmensky finds it fulfilling to work as a tutor in the Writing Center with City College students as they have what she calls “a-ha moments.” When working with students, she’ll often talk out the points of an assignment with them, helping them order their ideas and give them clarity and direction while writing.

“Today, I was working with a student working on a paper analyzing ‘Othello.’ She’s having trouble keeping her outline focused because it’s such a huge assignment,” Volmensky said. “At the end of the session, she started to [realize], ‘The things I’m talking about are connected. I’m not just pulling at straws here.’ That’s always great to see — when my fellow students have that moment of confidence, knowing that they can finish the assignment — and do well on it and enjoy it.”

For the past two-and-a-half semesters, the student tutors of the City College Writing Center have, like most other college professionals, worked remotely to connect with students.

Most of the work done by tutors in the center is through one-on-one sessions on writing assignments, but Meghan Facciuto, an instructional assistant at the Writing Center, said she and other Writing Center tutors joined English writing class sessions at the beginning of spring 2021 to inform students about how the center can help them develop their writing skills.

“We have appreciated the chance to visit several synchronous classes already this semester to talk about Writing Center services available to students,” said Facciuto. “We love when professors make the opportunity for us to talk with students about who we are and what we do, as well as allowing students to ask questions they may have about our services or becoming a tutor themselves.”

Faculty tutor Katie Pinkston explained that students interested in becoming writing tutors must be enrolled in at least 6 units and be able to take a 1-unit, hybrid tutor education course during their first semester of tutoring.

The process of scheduling a tutoring session is quite easy, according to Pinkston. Students looking for help with writing assignments can make an appointment by phone, email, or online. Sessions are carried out remotely using Google Meet. After the invite arrives via email in the form of a link and calendar invite, a tutor can be made available for 55 minutes (just five minutes shy of Google Meet’s free meeting limit).

“We’re also excited to be collaborating with other programs on campus this semester like the Rasa Center, the ASHÉ Center, and the UndocuAlly Program to hopefully provide more support to more students who are interested in getting writing feedback from their peers,” said Pinkston.

Nursing major Jackie Barragan is a student-tutor in the Writing Center. She said students who seek help from the Writing Center tutors sometimes do so because they’re overwhelmed by the writing process for their assignments. Barragan encouraged students to connect with a writing tutor at any stage of the writing process to help them develop their writing.

“Talking about it can really help students figure out what they want to put down on paper. I would tell them not to give up,” said Barragan. “Many students always feel like giving up, especially if it’s a really long paper.”

Pinkston explained that the Writing Center has 20 writing tutors for the spring semester. This includes 10 student tutors, five staff members, two faculty tutors from ESL, and two tutors from English. She said students consistently make progress when they practice.

“We feel that this synchronous way of tutoring is important to continue given how crucial it is right now to feel connected with others,” said Facciuto. “Talking out loud about your thoughts with someone who will listen can make the process smoother.”

In some situations, students meet with tutors weekly throughout the semester. Volmensky said that sometimes, after working on assignments with students, the tutors hear from students about their professors’ reactions.

“It’s always nice to check in and hear positive feedback,” she said. “Every so often, we try to get students to take a picture with their [graded] essay to show, ‘I got a good grade on this! My revisions worked.’ Those go on our Instagram.”

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