Gardner-Webb’s Writing Center Offers Students Assistance and Continues to Show Growth

Three members of the 2019-2020 Gardner-Webb Writing Center staff.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Research papers are educational requirements that students are aware of long before they fill even enter their first year of high school. But what’s one to do when that 15-page paper’s due date is fast approaching and it must be referenced in a format that is confusing to the student? Well, use your resources available to you and contact the Gardner-Webb Writing Center.

Nestled on the third floor of the Tucker Student Center lies the Gardner-Webb Writing Center. The Writing Center is a place for helping students to improve their writing. “It’s a one-stop-shop that covers anything from idea generation and understanding assignment prompts through drafting, revising and even proofreading.” GWU Professor of English and Writing Center Director Dr. Matthew Duffus shared. “We basically work with students through any stage of the writing process and offer assistance when we can,” Duffus concluded.   

Dr. Matthew Duffus is the current Director of the Gardner-Webb Writing Center. He has held this position since 2017.

The Writing Center has been a mainstay on the Gardner-Webb campus as far back as Duffus can remember. “Easily 25 years, maybe even more. Over the past few years, it has grown in size and become more prominent in its corner on the third floor of Tucker.” The Writing Center used to reside on the second floor of the Tucker Student Center, but it needed additional space upon Gardner-Webb’s increase in the amount of writing intensive courses a student needs to graduate. “Gardner-Webb switched to the three tier system which provides us with a forty-percent increase to our budget and that allowed us to handle the denser work load upon the expansion.” 

The center employs a total of eleven people including Duffus. “We employ one graduate assistant, seven students that are a mixture of undergraduates and graduates and two receptionists.” Duffus elaborated. “The students are the ones that lead the consultations and they have both myself and the graduate assistant if they need assistance.” 

The center is open to all students—undergraduate, Degree Completion Program, graduate, and both on- and off-campus students. Duffus has heard from his fellow colleagues from all types of disciplines that the center does make a difference and that it helps students papers in various ways. Duffus shared that his favorite part of being the director is that he gets to interact with students who work for the center on a more personal level. “Having both the chance to teach students how to support each other better and the opportunity to help them become better scholars is my favorite part of the job.” 

Duffus offers reassuring advice to anyone that is wary about going to the center. “Our goal isn’t to criticize a paper, but it is to help students make it better. Even if there are things that we don’t feel are working, we won’t say “Oh, this is a bad paper. You should start over.” or anything like that.” Duffus continued. “We try and be constructive with our criticism if any arises.” The writing center has reached record highs the past three fall semesters for people scheduling appointments and Duffus said that is something the pride themselves in. 

The future goals of the writing center involve doing more style-guide presentations in the classroom. Duffus feels that it is beneficial for students to become familiar with the center early on, so that if they do need help then they’ve already met someone involved in it.

With consultations lasting one hour, and a maximum of four consultations in one week allowed per student, Duffus believes that great strides can be made in improving a student’s writing skills if they provide the center enough time in advance to give them the proper feedback and help. “We strive to help make the student’s final copy, the best it can be.”

The GWU Writing Center is a free service for all students of the University.  Located on the third level of the Tucker Student Center in Room 327, specific hours of operation are posted online at gardner-webb.edu/writingcenter. Students can make an appointment via WebbConnect or by calling (704) 406-4393 during operating hours.

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