Whether pursuing a master’s or bachelor’s degree in Point Loma Nazarene University’s graduate and professional studies (GPS) department, finding the right resources and academic support is essential to college success.
According to Primary Research’s survey of college students’ satisfaction with tutoring services, 28.39% of college students used group tutoring in 2018. According to the report, tutoring was most commonly utilized among students 19 or younger and least commonly used among students over age 30. However, PLNU’s GPS Writing Center may be challenging this statistic as their writing support and tutoring resources are targeted to students of all ages.
When GPS emerged at PLNU in 2016, the need for a writing center became clear, according to Katie Rios, academic resource manager and student success counselor at PLNU.
“Right away, we realized we needed to support students in this area because our programs are heavily focused on writing, that’s how we communicate.”
“Right away, we realized we needed to support students in this area because our programs are heavily focused on writing, that’s how we communicate,” Rios said. “Everything is writing, from essays to brainstorming.”
“Students needed help with thinking, ‘This is what my professor wants me to do. What does that mean?’ To talk to someone else who is a professional in writing, who knows the ins and outs, is very helpful to get students started on an essay.”
Writing Center grounded in advising theory and professor feedback
Since its inception at PLNU’s Mission Valley building, the GPS Writing Center has utilized group advising theory and integral feedback from professors to create catered writing support for students.
The advising theory drives the writing center’s mission of fostering community and support for each student, according to Rios.
“The group advising theory helps give a sense of community,” Rios said. “[Because] students are everywhere and online, it’s hard to feel that sense of community.
“If they come to a workshop, they can see people in other programs and ask questions. Someone might ask the question you were about to ask, and you have that connection with them, even over Zoom.”
Regarding professor feedback, Rios said workshops and resources are created based on what they learn from professors.
“We did a survey and asked, ‘What are the writing needs? What do you see students coming in and asking questions about?’” Rios said. “We got a comprehensive look at what professors are dealing with, and we created the resources and workshops based on that feedback.”
In addition to advising theory and professor feedback, the writing center hopes to promote community and remind students they’re not alone in their learning. The center is located on the third floor of the Mission Valley building near the student lounge area.
What we want to do is we want to come alongside, give resources to students to help alleviate that stress.
“What we want to do is we want to come alongside, give resources to students to help alleviate that stress,” Rios said. “The theory of margins says if you give enough options, hopefully they’ll take something from that will help alleviate the stress in their lives as busy adults.”
Resources available wherever you are and at whatever time
From writing workshops to Canvas courses you can take at your own pace, the resources made available are not limited to students taking classes in person.
“It’s basically meant to help meet students wherever they are and what they prefer to use as a means to get their answers,” Rios said.
The in-person office currently has one writing coach on staff.
The services available also include:
- Live and recorded Zoom writers workshops
- A video resource library of micro-learning content
- A free online writing course with real-time feedback
- Live-online writing help with rapid paper drop-off service
“If a student needs help at midnight, obviously our coach is probably not working, but they can jump onto our tutor.com 24/7 access to a writing coach,” Rios said. “They can get answers to their questions pretty easily. They can also turn in a paper and get feedback within 12 hours.”
In the online Canvas writing course, students can also get a draft checker done within 20 minutes.
“Our center is unique in that way: We can offer really personalized services, and even though we are outsourcing, we trust that resource,” Rios said. “Even in our group settings, they feel like they’ve got what they needed.”
While in-person support is available for those based in San Diego, the GPS program recognizes that students may be fully remote and working full time.
“My theory is give tons of options if a student finds one or five of the options helpful, that’s great. It’s just trying to meet students where they are in their educational and writing journey,” Rios said.
Support that empowers students to learn and apply
On an average week, the writing coach, Brooke Williams, can see papers ranging from thesis essays to simple literature reviews. However, her main objective is to empower students to become better writers and editors who can eventually answer their own questions. She works with students and helps them to format and cite their academic papers properly.
Some of the ways the writing center is teaching applicable skills is through creating video content aimed at addressing specific questions that students have regarding APA style, formatting, and other topics. All of videos available in the online library are created by PLNU faculty.
With the library of videos and on-demand writing help Rios said the writing center is aiming to empower students to take initiative with their writing resources and education.
[We’re] trying to instill this sense of personal advocacy to get the most out of their education.
“[We’re] trying to instill this sense of personal advocacy to get the most out of their education,” Rios said.
PLNU is rising to meet today’s challenges
Find out if this is the right place for you
In the world of increasing AI technology, students need to know how to succeed in higher education and grad school. PLNU’s writing center is one way that higher education is rising to the challenge.
“I hope that we continue to grow, and offer services to our students to meet the needs that they have,” Rios said. “With technology emerging like ChatGPT, we just want to make sure we come alongside students and help them do the best they can do as a writer at PLNU.”
With student success at the heart of outreach and support both inside and outside the classroom, PLNU presents over 20 master’s and credential programs to help you to advance your educational career.