The Hortense Parrish Writing Center, located in the Andy Holt Humanities Building (HU 209), is a UT Martin student support facility named after a retired composition teacher who began the center with her work as a volunteer. The Writing Center is open to all students, and most students come on a drop-in basis. Each year, there are approximately 10,000 student visits to the Writing Center. Center assistants, working more specifically with students than with individual papers, help students become better editors and writers.
In addition to individualized tutoring, the Writing Center holds two writing workshops each week, hosts Talk Time (a special outreach activity designed to give non-native speakers an opportunity to practice language skills), and offers literary roundtable discussions, basic skills review, computer assistance, and general orientation sessions for First-Year Initiative groups and other classes.
Through regular staff meetings, discussions with faculty, and feedback from Writing Center questionnaires, the center coordinators and staff continuously evaluate and assess the effectiveness of the center's student support. Some of the changes that have resulted from the evaluation and assessment include the following:
- Providing additional training and mentoring to support writing consultants and student assistants
as they conference with students
- Adding more writing consultants and student assistants to help with basic skills review and with computer assistance
- Adding more student-use computers and equipment
- Redesigning center space
- Providing support for English 100-110 students
- Establishing Talk Time
- Offering outreach and support to creative writers
The center coordinators meet regularly, maintain connections with the Student Success Center, attend English and Modern Foreign Languages department meetings, and are active in campus service. The coordinators also encourage attendance at professional meetings related to writing centers.
Since the fall of 2003, the center has been involved in the support for the English 100 and English 110 classes. Each student enrolled in these classes is required to spend one hour per week in the center.
The Hortense Parrish Writing Center is committed to the six values set forth by The University of Tennessee at Martin: excellence in the teaching/learning process, integrity, leadership, community, inclusiveness, and creativity. The mission of the center, the listed outcomes, and the day-to-day work of the center also reflect the mission statements of the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and The University of Tennessee at Martin. Furthermore, the "Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition" from the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) serves as a guide for defining outcomes in rhetorical knowledge, in critical thinking, reading, and writing, in processes, in knowledge of conventions, and in composing in electronic environments.
The Writing Center's mission, goals, and stated outcomes are closely aligned with those of the university. The Writing Center also recognizes that more specific outcomes are defined at the departmental level. Staff members underscore the center's role in supporting writing improvement, and they recognize that they are participating, as stated by those in the Writing Center at Oregon State University, "in a campus-wide effort in support of students who are learning to write in complex global, academic, and professional environments."