Madison College Writing Center – Featured Writing Center

Madison College Writing Center

Madison Area Technical College

Madison, Wisconsin

Describe your institutional context.

Madison College is a world-class community college in Madison, Wisconsin. For more than 100 years, the College has offered educational opportunities to a wide variety of students with varying educational needs. Today, Madison College is the educational home to some 40,000 students, interested in the 4-year college transfer program, an associate degree, technical diploma or a certificate in more than 150 programs.

What are your hours during the academic year?

The Writing Center on our main campus is open Monday through Friday from approximately 8 am – 6 pm, depending on the day. Hours are designed to complement the hours established by the Student Achievement Center. Hours for other metro and regional campuses vary depending on the courses offered. Each semester, hours are posted on our website.

If you have a mission statement, what is it?

The Writing Center’s primary mission is to work collaboratively with members of the Madison College community in becoming more effective, confident, and successful writers and communicators.

Tell us about how your writing center is staffed.

The Madison College Writing Center is staffed by a mix of professional staff, full-time faculty, and peer tutors. The Writing Center is overseen by a Director, who is a full-time member of the English faculty, and is administratively managed by a full-time year-round Senior Coordinator at the main campus location. Seven Regional Coordinators manage operations part-time during the academic year for eight campus locations and the Online Writing Center. Each semester, we have approximately 30 tutors on staff to cover the hours at all 9 locations.

Tell us how your tutors are trained.

Our professional tutors are first interviewed by the Writing Center Director. Upon a successful interview, tutors receive a Tutor Handbook to review and then meet one-on-one with the director to discuss Writing Center pedagogy, the culture of the center, and administrative responsibilities tied to the role. Every other semester, staff members are asked to partner with each other to conduct peer observations. These observations are designed to encourage dialogue between tutors about effective techniques used, opportunities for growth and challenges experienced during sessions. Peer tutors enroll in a semester-long course that meets the same requirements and transferability as any second semester college level English composition class. It includes both traditional classroom instruction as well as a practicum in the Writing Center. After successfully completing the Peer Tutoring course, students can interview to join the staff as paid peer tutors.

Tell us about the writers you work with.

Madison Area Technical College is a large dual-mission two-year college (conferring professional degrees as well as serving as a transfer institution to four-year schools). Writers visiting the Writing Center are as diverse as the programming, so the staff works with all students at the college. This includes students in developmental writing courses and those earning associate’s degrees in business, applied arts, health sciences, protective services, and others. Still, each semester more than 65-70% of students at the college are enrolled in a liberal arts course or have officially declared an interest in transferring to a 4-year institution. Forty percent of sessions are with non-native English speakers, though this proportion varies widely by campus. At our South Metro campus the percentage is closer to 75%, while at our rural northern locations, the numbers are much lower (though growing).

Tell us about some programs and/or collaborations your writing center participates in.

The Writing Center serves faculty across many disciplines through workshops, presentations, classroom-based group conferences, and individual consultations on assignment design, rubric development, and providing effective feedback. More specifically, we regularly visit English classrooms to model peer review techniques. We also work with instructors from our paralegal program, nursing program and recreation management program, providing students with resume and cover letter writing expertise. Each semester we lead a workshop on email writing etiquette designed for new student workers. We also are developing initiatives that provide language support to ESL students and their instructors. We have recently expanded our reach into the K-12 community by serving our college’s dual-enrolled high school students through in-class workshops and online support.

Tell us two additional things you’d like people to know about your writing center.

From a staffing perspective, our Writing Center is known as a home within the college community. Its design allows instructors the rare opportunity to engage with students one-on-one, enjoy the camaraderie of colleagues, and participate in professional development that is directly applicable to the work they do in their classrooms.

In the fall of 2016, we hired an Online Writing Center Coordinator to support the ever growing number of students enrolled in non-traditional course formats, such as online, hybrid, and accelerated.

Whom should I contact if I want to know more about this writing center?

Sarah Z. Johnson, szjohnson@madisoncollege.edu