Welcome Back Bobcats!!

We here at the Writing Center hope your summer went well, and we hope that your semester is off to a good start!

Here are some new things going on at the Writing Center this Semester:

Our hours of operation for the Fall semester of 2013 have changed!

San Marcos WC

10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday


4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday

Round Rock Campus WC

10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday

10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday



If you have a quick question that you would like to ask us, please feel free to send us a tweet!

Either @txstwc or #txstwc


Life, Writing, and the Wearing of Many Hats

We wear a lot of hats here at the Writing Center. There’s my trucker hat with my pin collection, that baseball cap Michelle’s been rocking lately, that cool plaid newsboy hat on that one client…

Okay, facetious exploitation of English idioms ends here.

Want to know what the first work I did at the Writing Center was (work=thing that someone told me to do while I was on the clock)? It wasn’t teaching an English 1310 student how to structure an argumentative essay. It wasn’t proofreading a 200-page doctoral dissertation. It wasn’t politely explaining to someone taking their first writing-intensive class just how exactly to use a comma.

It was taking a Sharpie and crossing out “Flowers Hall G09” and replacing it with “ASBN 100.” On about three hundred fridge magnets. Remember those chunky pencil-looking fridge magnets we used to have at the front desk? That was me.

I figured it was just busy work, like being told to sit in the back of the room with the glitter and the safety scissors, and that I’d soon be a proper tutor, earning my bread teaching students the beauty of the English language rather than having to do this demeaning manual labor. But it didn’t stop there. Because at the Writing Center, we tutors don’t have the luxury of shunting off less glamorous tasks to underpaid workers. We buckle down and we get stuff done.

Last month, we spent a lot of time on-and-off using paint scrapers to clean the outside windows of all the inspiring quotes we’d written up there for Women’s History Month. The orange and pink were the easiest to scrape off, but the purple was really stubborn. “So, what did you do at the Writing Center today?” “Well, I helped a student with an admissions essay, brainstormed with one of the 1320 kids, and spent like thirty minutes scraping marker off the windows.” We only put one quote up for Autism Awareness Month–I can’t imagine why.

But that’s just how it is at the Writing Center. One moment you’re discussing the finer points of preposition usage with an international student; the next, you’re sanding paint off the door in the back while paint dust blows into your face from above, where another tutor who shall remain nameless is likewise sanding away.

This fluidity carries over into our personal interactions as well. The reception desk at the writing center is a very interesting place. Each of us is scheduled to work there for an hour at a time (two hours for me, occasionally–still not sure how that happened), but because reception work is typically slow apart from the rush on the half-hour marks when clients come in, off-duty tutors typically take it upon themselves to relieve the poor soul at the desk by loitering around and just…talking. But! But!! We do talk about work-related things. We commiserate about appointments gone sour. We discuss better ways to explain things. We also talk about inherent sexism in the Spanish language, whether Pocahontas’s marriage to John Smith was the first interracial marriage, and the difference between flesh-eating zombies and brain-eating zombies. No, I did not make any of those up.

The Writing Center is the only place I’ve ever worked. It is also, by far, the greatest place I’ve ever worked in my entire life. I get to help students become better writers, hang out with a bunch of great people, and do so many other different things that I know I’ll never be bored.

We wear a lot of hats around here. Also, we have cookies. Sometimes.


Teaching PIE (the Tyesha way)

From experience, PIE is a technique that many clients feel they have mastered; however, in reality they do not know what it actually means. Clients understand the basics (words): P-point, I-illustration, and E-evaluation. But they do not understand how this template functions within their work. One solution that I have found helpful is both highlighting the parts of pie in different colors (use 3, and highlight all Ps one color, Is a different one, etc) and explaining it to them as follows:
Ask your clients

P- [WHAT] What is the point of the paragraph? In simple terms what are you going to be talking about in this section of your paper.

I- [HOW] How can you prove the point you just made? Where is your evidence? Use quotes from book/story, research, interviews, statistics, anything that you can find to prove that the claim you made exists and that it is valid.

E-[WHY] Why is this important? How does this prove your thesis? Why should a reader care?

The WC handouts are useful; nevertheless, I have found that asking what, how, and why is more successful. It is a quick way for students to reevaluate their work and it helps them to develop points besides the obvious. This also allows them to see any weaknesses in their thesis statements.

Some clients will be resistant to the idea of it, but if you put some sass into it (like I usually do) they usually come around. Our job is to help them immediately and in the long run. As we all know, clients book 30 minute appointments and have 55 minute questions and/or issues. This provides them with a quick way to check themselves and it is easier to remember than PIE. I hope this helps you as much as it has me when trying to explain to an uninterested client what PIE is and what it is important.

The Growth of the Writing Center and its Tutors.

Although I have only been a tutor at the Writing Center for a little under a year, I can already tell that my experience here has helped me grow in enormous ways. Through my work at the Writing Center I have learned to be more confident in my ability to work under pressure, my ability to multi-task, and overall my ability to connect with other people around me.

Everyone that I have come to know at the Writing Center–whether it is my coworkers or the clients–has taught me something new. I have learned not only how to look at essays and compositions in new ways, but also how to look at my life and my experiences in new ways. Everyone has helped me grow so much, and from them I have learned more than I could have ever imagined.

Not only has my own experience grown during this past school year, but the Writing Center itself has also grown. In the fall semester of 2012, the Writing Center saw its biggest change: a new location! Previously located in Flowers Hall Room G09, the Writing Center used to be smaller, and it did not have any windows. Now in it’s new location (ASB-N 1st floor) the Writing Center has been able to grow to its full potential. The place is spacious, open, inviting, and most of all…bright!

In addition to a new location, the Writing Center has also added some new resources for Texas State Students! Now the Writing Center consists of a laptop bar (for students who prefer to work on their own computer in a private location), updated handouts (for students who need a quick bit of information on the go), and now a Writing Center blog (so all of the Texas State Students can continue to connect to us from home)!

The Writing Center has become more to me than just “my job”; it has become a part of me. Everyone I work with–coworkers and clients alike–has become a part of me. I live and breathe for the Writing Center, and it has found a place in my heart as a second home. I am so excited to watch the Writing Center continue to grow, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for us in the future.


Tricky Plural Terms

Although I believe it is true that good writing is good writing no matter the style, different styles and subject matter have different conventions and may utilize irregular terms more often than others. Science writing, for example, often utilizes Latin-based terminology.

Here is a quick example of correct and incorrect usage of the tricky term ‘data.’

The word ‘data’ is always plural.

INCORRECT EXAMPLE: The plant data was collected in an area off the Ivory Coast.

CORRECT EXAMPLE: The plant data were collected in an area off the Ivory Coast.

The above example is always correct, unless you are writing about one group of data. In other words, ‘data’ is always plural unless you are writing about a data set, a data group, or a data pair–in which case, the ‘a’ overrides the plural form and you use the singular form. However, the use of ‘a’ is not necessary to reference one grouping of a typically plural noun, so carefully examine the sentence.