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Writing Center offers variety of workshops for students

Charitha Isanaka | Thursday, March 1, 2012

Every semester, the Writing Center offers a variety of workshops designed to cater to the specific needs of students at Notre Dame.

Director Matthew Capdevielle said the center will offer over 20 workshops this semester. Each event will have a different focus, ranging from medical school applications to successfully completing essay exams.

“In the workshop setting, we can address common writing concerns in specific writing genres, like cover letters, personal statements, or scientific research papers,” Capdevielle said. “Our workshops complement the tutorial services we offer in the Writing Center, but they are by no means a replacement for our face-to-face consultations.”

Second year graduate student Colleen Fitzsimons, a tutor at the Writing Center, is working on six workshops this semester. She said one workshop, “How to Write a Research Paper in One Week: Making Massive Manuscript Manageable,” will place a special focus on academic papers.

Fitzsimons said the workshops feature a collection of the most useful tips she has learned during her time as a writing tutor.

“I then organized the material into presentations and looked in my own writing for examples of what I wanted to get so they could see how some of these strategies can be implemented in an actual paper,” she said.

Fitzsimons said past workshops on academic papers have been extremely successful.

“So many people registered for my first presentation last semester, called Academic Writing Guidelines, that we had to find a bigger classroom,” she said. “And according to the surveys we sent out after the workshops, the students seemed to gain a lot from them.”

Fitzsimons said in addition to workshops, the Writing Center offers two writing camps with Hesburgh Library.

“Thesis Camp is a week-long, intensive writing workshop for senior thesis writers offered over fall break,” she said. “Dissertation Camp, which is held over Spring Break, is a similar camp designed for graduate students writing doctoral dissertations.”

The Writing Center is also an important site of research on tutoring methods, Capdevielle said. For the past two years, 13 tutors have presented their research at national conferences on gender dynamics in the tutorial environment and the role of empathy in writing pedagogy.

Capdevielle said the center is also actively engaged in a number of community initiatives. Tutors work through the Power of Writing project, a joint initiative with the Notre Dame Institute for Educational Initiatives, to help students in two South Bend middle schools improve their writing.

Capdevielle said writing is a form of conversation through which words can be brought to life. The Writing Center promotes this dialogue in all of its activities, he said.

“All writers benefit from talking about their writing with other writers because [it] heightens our awareness of the choices available to us in writing,” Capdevielle said. “[It] makes us more sensitive to the power that our words hold to move our readers.”