In order to serve the diverse student, faculty, and staff community a large, research university, consultants need to be prepared to work with writers from different disciplinary backgrounds as they create different types of texts. They also need to be able to adapt their tutoring strategies to different points in the writing process: helping a client brainstorm ideas and learn about a new genre of writing, organize and plan for drafting, identify gaps in their writing or research, address higher-order revision concerns, and make lower-order corrections as they polish and finalize their writing. At Auburn, we have the benefit of employing undergraduate and graduate peer consultants from across the university. A highlight of my job is helping them see how their backgrounds in counseling and engineering can shape their approaches to tutoring and how experience in writing might serve them as developing professionals.

Client Learning Outcomes

Miller Writing Center Client Learning Outcomes: Based on their experience in the Miller Writing Cent

To help create concrete goals for our clients, we worked with peer consultants to develop client learning outcomes, which are goals for what clients should take away with them following writing center appointments. It's important to mention that a single appointment may not hit every single outcome but our holistic assessment of the writing center should show this work is being done across our appointments. 

By creating concrete goals for our services, we can better train and measure how well those outcomes were being delivered to the institutional community. We align these outcomes to client report surveys, appointment observation data, and consultant professional development. We also created an Assessment Institute that compares the drafts clients attached to their appointments with final versions of their writing projects (we contact clients asking them to consider sending us their final versions for this purpose). A side-by-side comparison allows us to assess how writing center appointments are leading to revision strategies in our clients' writing. Through identifying clear learning outcomes for our service, we can better articulate and assess the impact we have on the Auburn University community.

The Miller Writing Center employs undergraduate and graduate consultants from across the disciplines. They go onto become counselors, teachers, engineers, biologists, health administrators, political scientists, professional and technical writers, etc. For that reason, it's important that we achieve two goals with our professional development: 

  1. Establish a strong foundation in writing instruction and writing center theory

  2. Help consultants see the connections between what they do with the Miller Writing Center and their long-term professional goals. 

I work with an administrative team to design and deliver multiple professional development programs, including...

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Ongoing Professional Development
Consultants continue their learning and growth throughout the semester by participating in ongoing professional development. Delivered through a mixture of small group "circle" meetings and whole staff meetings, this training is aligned to consultant learning outcomes, or outcomes that illustrate what we want consultants to gain from their experience working with us. See what a semester of training looks like.

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ePortfolios are a high impact practice that can integrate different learning and professional experiences and develop reflective practice. To help consultants see the connections between their work in the MWC and their future professional goals, we guide them in creating an ePortfolio. The ePortfolio contains several tutoring artifacts, like a theory of consulting and reflective goal statements in addition to artifacts that they select from their ongoing professional development and experiences in the MWC. We hope these ePortfolios will help them reflect on how their experiences with us can inform their growth as professionals in various disciplines and professions. We hope they consider growing these ePortfolios beyond their time in our office.

Pre-Semester Training
This one-day training helps new consultants learn the outcomes for the writing center, the general beats of a typical appointment, and the technologies they will use while tutoring clients. They also connect with administrators and peer mentors and are introduced to a suite of asynchronous resources, like our consultant handbook. The day ends with them practicing some of their new skills in a guided consultation with more experienced consultants from the MWC. See how we structure that day.