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Kathryn Raign, director, Writing LabBy Leigh Daniels, student assistant, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

Every college student encounters a time when writing doesn’t come as easy as sending a text message or typing a tweet on Twitter. When students find themselves confused by grammar, have questions about a research paper or need some overall writing assistance, they can find help at the Writing Lab.

The Writing Lab, located in the Auditorium Building, Room 105, offers various types of services and tutoring. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides both internal and external resources.

Faculty members are encouraged to refer their students to the lab, either individually or as an entire class. Kathryn Raign, above, director of the Writing Lab, says that some faculty members already utilize services and tutors.

“I’ve had entire classes that have a required number of tutorials per paper,” Raign said. “A lot of students are there because they have to be, but then we find they come back when it’s not required because they had a lot of success.”


The writing lab offers a variety of services to undergraduate and graduate students. Services include one-on-one tutoring, digital tutoring, GSP (grammar, spelling and punctuation) tutoring, workshops, the Online Writing Lab and graduate-level help.

  • One-on-one tutoring involves a student coming into the Writing Lab, by appointment or walk-in, and sitting down with a tutor to go over writing issues one by one.
  • Digital tutoring is presented through ShowDocument, a Web site that allows you and your tutor to chat in real-time, markup the document using drawing tools and edit the text of the document together.
  • The Mayborn School of Journalism requires that all of its students pass the Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (GSP) exam. The Writing Lab offers GSP tutoring to help prepare students for the exam. The lab also proctors the exam for a one-time fee of $35.
  • Workshops allow multiple students to come in at set times to go over topics that many students find difficult. Workshop topics include style, citations, résumés, comma-use and structure.
  • The Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides several PDF files explaining grammar and punctuation, technical writing, the writing process, types of essays and papers, citations and research and creative writing. OWL also provides links to external resources and information.
  • The Writing Lab has a separate service that allows graduate students to bring in their thesis or dissertation to be proof-read for a fee. Tutors do not alter content.

People of the Writing Lab

As the director, Raign oversees the Writing Lab to assure it is providing students with top-notch writing assistance. The lab does this with a skilled staff of tutors.

Tutor applicants to the Writing Lab must provide a writing sample with a professor’s grade and comments on it, maintain a 3.5 GPA, pass the GSP exam, provide a copy of their transcript, go through a written application process and participate in an interview.

The Writing Lab staff consists of undergraduate and graduate students studying technical communications, English, Spanish, journalism, information science, creative writing and philosophy.

Students Who Visit the Lab
The Writing Lab had a record-breaking 4,000 students visit them last fall and Raign said she expects to exceed that number this semester.

Students vary from writing-based majors like English to number-crunching accounting majors, but the class that the tutors see the most students for is freshman composition.

Science majors can get help with lab reports while business majors can have their memos reviewed. All majors can bring in their résumés to be revised.

Faculty may refer any and all of their students to the lab, which supports the university's goal of providing a superior academic experience. Services offered at the lab help students reach their fullest writing potential.

(Photo by Michael Clements)

Posted on: Thu 01 November 2012

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