Writing Center consultants adapt to Zoom, discuss tutoring stigma
Despite a reduction in student job opportunities due to COVID-19, the student-led Writing Center is continuing to operate online. Sign-ups to talk with experienced student writing consultants can be made over Wise, and their hours of operation are Monday to Thursday from 6-9 p.m., and Sunday from 3-9 p.m.
Whereas previously they would edit paper copies in-person, their current method of operation is editing shared Google documents over Zoom calls. Two staff members described their experiences with this change by sharing their perceived benefits, as well as detriments, to using online resources in regards to tutoring.
Senior politics major Layce Yamauchi said that although there are some drawbacks to Zoom, overall she thinks that online appointments are working efficiently. “The transition has been like our regular classes-it's been difficult at first because we had to jump into it all the sudden. We had to be the hosts of the Zoom meeting and that was hard to get used to at first. We have been getting a lot of appointments at first so that’s good. I think they [students] find that meeting on Zoom has been much more convenient,” she stated.
Junior English and PPLE double major Adina Goldstein had similar sentiments. “I had a little bit of trouble with the mechanics, like hosting the Zoom meeting, because I've never done it before. Overall though, I think it’s working okay. There’s been like no people at all. I think only one of the slots was filled, but I also think that’s normal for the first week.” Willamette students typically don’t get many writing assignments until a significant amount of course material has been covered, so the amount of first-week Writing Center visits are usually low. She also pointed out that the lack of attendance may not be because of Zoom. “There's a stigma with getting help from tutors in general,” she said.
Yamauchi has worked at the Writing Center for three years. Though she sees the benefits to working over Zoom, she personally prefers meetings to be in person. “Sometimes on Zoom it can be a little awkward when you’re meeting someone for the first time. Google Docs can be more convenient because we’re both looking at the same thing at the same time, but I personally just prefer a physical copy.”
Goldstein, a first time staff member, said that she had no preference for in-person or online tutoring. She did note that, “I personally find it harder to pay attention, and I feel like a little bit of the human connection is lost through Zoom.”
Yamauchi also had some opinions about the differences between interacting with coworkers. She said, “That’s probably the thing that’s been the most affected, the interactions with other consultants. Because usually if there’s no walk-in appointments we’ll talk to each other about what's going on or we’ll go over articles on improving writing for our next staff meeting, so yeah, I definitely miss someone to talk to during meetings. We can’t sit together or have lunch together, so that’s kinda sad, but what can you do?”
Going forward, Goldstein had no opinion on whether or not the Writing Center should stay in-person or online. “I have no preference personally. For the safety of everyone, we should stay online right now,” she said.
Yamauchi said: “I think that it would be a great idea to maybe have Zoom as an option for people who don’t want to come in in-person. Even when COVID is over, I think some people still feel uncomfortable meeting in-person, especially if you don’t want to get out of your dorm or go on-campus for some reason. It is kind of convenient.”