DCS personnel supporting the Graduate Writing Center (GWC), Sandi Leavitt, Director, right, and John Locke, Deputy Director, left, have grown the university’s advanced writing program into a well-utilized support function for NPS students returning to the rigors of academic writing. In fact, the GWC set a handful of attendance records this quarter thanks to growing demand from students seeking out this invaluable service.
DCS is the prime contractor for the Graduate Writing Center (GWC) and Thesis Processing Support Services contract which provides thesis processing, editing, formatting, and coaching on critical thinking and writing mechanics. NPS provides graduate education to a student body of approximately 2,800 mid-career military officers of the uniformed services, Department of Defense civilians, and members of the international defense community.
The three year contract awarded on September 2014, valued at almost $2.5M, is a continuation of fifteen years of work supporting NPS.
“At NPS we don’t do creative writing, we do creative research and we create new knowledge,” said Locke. “But without clear communication in writing, the knowledge will disappear.”
The GWC was established in 2013 with just three writing coaches, and has since expanded to nine coaches with 25 workshop sessions offered during the first four weeks of each quarter. GWC leaders keep the average class size small, approximately 11 students, to offer more interaction between students and instructors.
“Students have said the workshops have been very helpful,” said Leavitt proudly. “Just as advisers work on content in the lab, we are working on how to write a literature review, or how to write out your results, or how to best describe the information.
“The writing center helps students to prepare to write a thesis,” she continued. “It gets their skills up to speed with workshops that cover the mechanics, like how to build better sentences, how to cite correctly, a refresher on grammar and punctuation. We also do organization, and critical thinking.”
With the recent addition of new writing coaches, the GWC has surpassed itself each quarter, fielding 1,140 scheduled appointments with students in the 2016 Fall quarter, and set records for individual appointments and students served in a single week this Winter quarter.
“In the beginning, we were more of an island where people would come to us for writing coaching, but now professors are asking us to come out to them,” said Locke.
“Leaders need to be able to communicate clearly, to process information, come up with solutions, and make cogent arguments,” added Leavitt. “We help students in two areas … One is in critical thinking, which is to identify, analyze and evaluate a problem with the appropriate evidence to make a logical argument. The other part is being able to write, so people can understand it.”
By MC2 Michael Ehrlich