Why encourage students to use the Writing Center?
In most professional writing situations, writers seek feedback before attempting to publish. Often, getting feedback is part of the submission process. When given the chance, it makes sense to have the work read before publication. Yes, getting feedback can help identify grammar issues. More importantly, getting feedback can help identify clarity and logic issues, questionable assumptions, and poor development. The feedback process can also end up confirming good practice.
Also beneficial, perhaps crucial, to the process of developing effective communicators is forcing the realization that one’s written work is now a social object tied to one’s identity. High school rarely offers the opportunity to interact with a relatively independent reader. The writing is not intrinsically motivated, unless the subject happens to be near and dear. The Writing Center provides that opportunity. The process of sitting with a person who is actively reconstructing one’s thinking . . . well, it can be quite motivational, a benefit beyond whatever specific learning occurs during the consultation.
We don’t grade the writing. We don’t proofread for the students. We want to encourage the development of a writing process that integrates feedback, and we want to help writers understand how their writing is causing both understanding and confusion. We’re big on helping writers understand how readers process text and why various rules and guidelines exist. The general philosophy is to provide the writer with a model for reading their own work. It can’t fully happen in one consultation, but the seeds can be planted.