This is the last 3 Things of the academic year and we're dubbing it "The Studio Issue." Over the summer, Western Libraries will be finalizing the relocating and reimagining of both Research Consultation and the Writing Center. Read about how these two units are working toward a studio model of teaching and learning, how students can leverage the Studio environment to ensure success, and how the Studio addresses a need Western's teaching faculty have helped identify.
Connecting Literacies in the Research-Writing Studio
If you haven't heard about the Research-Writing Studio yet, it’s okay; we’re just a few weeks old. In short, the new Studio combines two Learning Commons partners--the Writing Center and Research Consultation. Because we’re excited about the new teaching and learning opportunities that are emerging from this new initiative, we want to show you how our connection works--and hopefully give you great reasons to check us out.
First, the Research-Writing Studio integrates academic literacies. Research and writing are usually two sides to the same coin. As an example, take “Mo,” a recent visitor to the Studio. Early in the quarter, Mo worked with Abby, a writing assistant, to figure out the scope of his topic and to gain strategies for organizing. But when Mo started diving into databases to identify articles and books for this narrowed focus, Gabe, a research consultant, stepped in to lend research expertise. Writing and research consultants work hand in hand to support these integrated literacies.
Second, the Research-Writing Studio operates studio-style, connecting students to expertise and to strategies for developing their own expertise as they work in the space. The other day five students were working on identifying sources for their annotated bibliographies. Instead of forming a line for one-at-a-time help, everyone pulled up tables and got started. Research Specialist Julene found it easy to rotate between students by giving each one a research strategy or two to work on. Then she checked back on them to see how they were doing. In this way, everyone kept working on one bite-sized strategy until they were ready for another. Julene was even able to get away to pull in some reference sources for a hard-to-find topic.
While our practices have changed already, our space will catch up come fall. Thanks to a generous private donation, the Studio will expand to include new furniture and equipment. We'll also reveal a joint online presence to more seamlessly connect virtual support as well. We hope you too will be excited by the new opportunities available through the Research-Writing Studio, so we invite you to drop by, get some research and writing work done, and share your ideas on how we shape the Studio going forward.
Until fall, you can get support for research and writing online or in-person in Haggard Hall behind the Student Technology Center overlooking Red Square.
This Issue's Great Tip
How You Can Use the Research-Writing Studio
By Alyssa Kaufman and Cory Briar | Studio Writing Assistants
Since we all struggle at times with the complexities of the thinking-research-writing-revising process, the Research-Writing Studio is fast becoming a hub for student writers and researchers to sort out problems together, much like the Tutoring Center down the hall. At the Studio, it’s all about helping students find their own potential as scholars. No matter the stage in the research-writing process, the Studio’s professional and student staff can help you with strategies.
Students, think of the Studio when you are...
Stuck in the brainstorming process: We'll provide fun tips to get the ideas rolling.
Lost for a thesis or organizing scheme: We'll help you try outlining with stickies or mapping with markers.
Troubled with too many, too few, or not the right sources: We'll dive into databases to sleuth sources.
Puzzled by grammar and citations: We'll help you spot and edit patterns of error and teach you to manage citations in any style.
Working in a group: Designed to accommodate groups, we'll provide not only space and equipment but also mediation for negotiating everyone's goals.
Working at home: We'll help through any medium -- online chat, text messaging, or web submission.
Faculty, think of the Studio when you are...
Making your students aware of campus resources: We'll be here throughout your students' college careers, so help them connect early and often!
Assigning a research-based writing assignment: We'll be more effective in helping students meet your goals when you send us an advance copy of your assignment.
Recommending targeted assistance for specific students: We'll offer tailored and ongoing research and writing support through our Partners Program.
When it comes to student research and writing we know that Western faculty have high standards for their students. In many cases that means connecting students to research and writing services to augment literacy instruction they receive in the classroom. Responses to Western Libraries’ 2015 Faculty Use & Needs Survey indicate that faculty at Western see the development of research and writing skills as an important initiative for the Libraries. More than 83% of responses (234 of 296) ranked, “Help improving student research and writing skills,” as an important library initiative in terms of its value to their research or teaching.
For Western, this sense of importance first emerged in the 2012 Faculty Resource Use Survey. At that time we asked teaching faculty about the importance of research and writing skills for their student’s success. Additionally, we asked how competent they perceived their students to be in these areas. While faculty ranked information literacy skills as important (well above 3 on a 4 point scale) their perception of how well students performed was significantly lower. In response to another question 229 faculty ranked the usefulness of library initiatives to their work and of those 180 overwhelmingly ranked student research and writing skills as a first or second priority (2.29 on a 3 point scale).
The 2012 WWU faculty response was relatively consistent with national data about the importance of these research and writing skills [PDF]. But while faculty nationally lacked any clarity about partnering with libraries to augment the development of these skills, our own faculty tended to acknowledge the Libraries' instrumental role in teaching academic literacies.
The new Research-Writing Studio is positioned to help students and faculty bridge the gap in developing research and writing skills. When Fall Quarter 2015 arrives students and faculty will find a robust collaborative studio space that addresses this essential demand with a service model designed to support the learning habits, and needs, of 21st century students.