April 22, 2013

Students Get Writing Help in New Digs

Department of English and Foreign Languages has improved writing lab open, available for all students

Grambling State University Media Bureau

GRAMBLING, LA – A faint smell of fresh paint fills the halls of Woodson Hall at Grambling State University these days. This isn’t an art project, or simply a new paint job; it’s a focus on writing.

The university’s Department of English and Foreign Languages is working to help students across the campus improve their writing skills. Alumna Evelyn Wynn, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, went to work with the faculty to freshen up two writing labs. With the help of a Title III grant, two state-of-the-art computer labs were funded and the lab walls got a fresh coat of gold paint and the floor was covered with new carpet.

“(What) I like most about the lab is that is does what Dr. (Frank G.) Pogue wants to do,” said Wynn, talking about the president of Grambling State University. “It provides enhancement learning for students.”

The Enhancement Writing Lab in Woodson Hall Room 231 is across the hall from the English Instructional Computer Classroom. Both have 55-inch flat screen televisions, several Dell OptiPlex 790 desktops, printers and a Smart Board, an interactive white board that uses technology tools to enhance education and learning with a projector, computer inputs, touch screen and digital.

The lab is open for all university students, not just English majors. Students can get help from a team of volunteers and tutors as they develop essays, correct grammar, proofread and brainstorm. In addition, English professors host lab workshops about various subjects. Just this month, there was a “Writing about Religion in an Academic Manner” workshop and another one about using academic style with research writing.

Linda Ward, the EWEL lab coordinator, wants more and more students to know about the lab and its resources. She wants to “see students in the other fields to come and get help at the lab” in an “atmosphere in the EWEL is both friendly and productive.” 

A number of professors are introducing students to the writing lab by offering extra credit assignments and hosting class sessions in the labs.  Beatrice McKinsey, Ph. D., a faculty member who coordinates the Department of English and Foreign Languages, said she’s seen an increase in students’ attendance and participation. Students can easily see how to conduct proper research for a paper, she said.

Teachers outside of the department can reserve the EICC lab, a wireless teaching classroom designed to provide a stimulating learning environment, a place designed to provide students with hands-on learning and blended learning on research and essay revisions.  “We’re seeing that the students are more involved in the classrooms with the technology,” said Wynn during a recent tour of the EICC lab.  Ward demonstrated a special feature. Standing at the podium in the right front corner of the lab, she pressed a button and, in a matter of seconds, Dell computers emerged from a hidden compartment.

“The technology helps me to provide better instruction because I can actually teach students how to conduct research, to develop essays, and to complete assignments more effectively right here in the classroom,” added McKinsey, a Minden resident. “I don’t have to send them to a lab.”

Ward said she has plans for an expansion to neighboring rooms and additional workshops. “We must find ways to address students’ writing needs,” explained Wynn, Ph. D. “We are trying to reach them when they first enter the university.”
The lab blog, which has lots of writing help and information, can be found at http://gsunet.gram.edu/writinglab/.

The writing enhancement lab is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and it is closed Fridays. Walk-ins are welcome, but Ward said appointments are best. Students should call 318-274-2352 or email Ward at wardl@gram.edu.

English Writing Lab Photo

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



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