Tag Archives: Writing Center

Undergraduate Student Morgan Aprill Discusses Her Writing Fellowship and Her Research Project on Tutoring


Morgan Aprill is an English literature student at Ball State University with minors in Spanish and professional writing. She is entering her senior year as an undergraduate at the university in the fall. In addition to her work on the “Digital Literature Review,” she currently works as a tutor at the English Department Writing Center. She is conducting a research fellowship with two of her professors about tutoring and composition in second languages, with hopes of publishing the findings in a peer-reviewed research journal. She is a recent recipient of the Carol S Chalk Memorial Scholarship awarded to outstanding tutors in the Writing Center.

I was approached by Dr. Kuriscak, one of my previous Spanish professors, and Dr. Grouling, the Director of the Writing Center, at the end of the 12-13 school year. As a Spanish minor, I took Dr. Kuriscak’s Spanish 202 class at the end of my sophomore year. Both professors knew I worked as a tutor in the Writing Center and that I was also in the Honors College, so they thought I was the perfect candidate for the research they were interested in pursuing concerning alternative tutoring methods. Dr. Grouling had been in conversation with Dr. Kuriscak about ways the Center could aid students who were working on writing for their foreign language classes. The professors came up with the idea of trying out a writing fellow who would work with Dr. Kuriscak’s Spanish composition classes. That’s where I came in.

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New Faculty Profile: Jennifer Grouling

Last semester, the Ball State English Department began a short series to celebrate and profile our newest faculty members. This week, the department continues the series of new faculty profiles by featuring Dr. Jennifer Grouling. Continue reading below to see Dr. Grouling’s interview conducted by English intern Tyler Fields and don’t forget to see past profiles featuring Dr. Jason GladstoneDr. Susanna Benko,  Dr. Miranda NeslerDr. Maria Windell, Prof. Liz Whiteacre, Prof. John King, and Dr. Andrea Wolfe.

*Photo provided by Jennifer Grouling

*Photo provided by Jennifer Grouling

Tyler Fields: Can you talk about what sparked your interest in Rhetoric & Composition?

Jennifer Grouling: I always wanted to teach writing, but I didn’t really realize that was a field. I was an undergraduate English education major, and I did teach high school for a little bit. But I really didn’t want to teach literature; I didn’t want to teach Romeo and Juliet for an entire quarter, which is what I was required to do. So when I went back to school for my M.A., I wasn’t exactly sure exactly where I wanted to take my interest in teaching. Once I realized that Rhetoric & Composition was an option, I thought, “that’s what I want to do. I want to teach writing.”

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Ball State Writing Program Contest Winners For Fall 2012

The Writing Program at Ball State is always interested in promoting our student writers and the great work they are doing in their Writing Program courses.  To that end, we hold a writing contest each semester in an effort to find and promote the best student writing and to reward great student writers for their hard work.  Any project composed for a Writing Program course (ENG 101/102, ENG 103, ENG 104, or ENG 114) is eligible for the contest. We are happy to receive submissions that are written in a variety of genres and composed in a variety of media. Winning submissions not only receive monetary prizes but also are published in a future edition of BallPoint, Ball State’s writing handbook.

We are pleased to announce the winners from our Fall 2012 contest (instructors listed in parentheses):

1st place- $150: “Blurring the Line: Ethics in Scientific Experimentation,” by Evan Neace (Geri Strecker)

2nd place- $75: “A Blade By Any Other Name,” by Bradford Barclay (Beth Dalton)

3rd place- $50: “Revisions: Why Do We Do It,” by Naomi Rockenbaugh (Nichole Pena)

Multimodal prize- $100: “Visuals Can Connect the World,” by Lauren Sherwood (Jennifer Grouling)

In addition to our winners, three students received honorable mentions:

“Why Should You Be an Organ Donor,” by Alyssa Cowan (Bridget Gelms)

“Living Unhappily Ever After: Marriage and the Stream of Consciousness in Alice Walker’s ‘Roselily’,” by Chelsea Police (Geri Strecker)

“Speech Language Pathologists and Strokes,” by Brittni Beerman (Geri Strecker)

Congratulations to our winners and honorable mentions! Our Spring 2013 contest is accepting submissions now through May 10, 2013. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students to share their work, to possibly win a little money, and to be published in the process! We look forward to reviewing a new batch of submissions! For detailed information on how to submit, please visit http://goo.gl/xgPCu. For questions about the contest, contact Bridget Gelms at bcgelms@bsu.edu. You can follow The Writing Program on Twitter @BallState_WP.


Guest Post: Phil Call shares his experience in the English education program


I’m Phil—a senior in the English education program. Essentially, I want to present a picture of the program by escorting you through some of my memories. If you’re new to or considering the English ed program, you might find some helpful tips; if you’re a non-English ed major, you might gain some insight into what our world is like; if you’re an old hat in the program, you might get a smile from reminiscing.

Back in my day *wheeze*, we didn’t have an introductory education course that was specific to English; we were introduced to the teaching world and Teachers College alongside other ed folks. With that kind of diversity, our professor, Dr. Wible, focused on teaching general strategies, practicing most of what he preached by utilizing the very teaching methods he commended to us. Later on, when I started teaching real students at real schools, I dug out the brain teasers, group-making tools, and ice breakers that he taught us and found they were quite helpful. *Suggestion: Have a place to record all the ideas for teaching that you hear from and/or see modeled by ANY teacher ANYWHERE. Dr. Wible was also real with us in saying that teaching can be _(insert word with negative connotation here)_. So, he required us to observe classes, tutor students, and really consider whether we wanted to step further into the world of education.

Having taken that step myself, I found that the middle years of the education sequence are rife with portfolios, rGrade, advisers, and Teachers College. By way of explanation, the portfolio is a website that each student makes to chronicle his/her changing perspectives on educational issues and to post “artifacts” from education classes that demonstrate pedagogical competency, and rGrade is an online program that tracks progress through certain “decision points,” each of which requires certain classes, grades, papers, and levels of portfolio achievement before the teaching candidate is allowed to move forward. The portfolio and rGrade cause most of the stress ed majors feel due to the work required and sometimes confusing requirements. *Suggestion: In order to alleviate the confusion caused by these issues, consult the English Education website and contact professors, advisers, and administrators (esp. Dr. Hartman) in the English Department regularly to make sure you’re on track.

All of the courses that I have taken through the English department and Teachers College have prepared me in some way for teaching. I use grammar skills almost daily to help students with worksheets; I recall methods courses to help me design lessons that avoid worksheets; I follow professors’ examples when I work with students one-on-one; I call on literature I have read to supplement students’ readings; I implement lessons from my communication classes to teach clearly and confidently…the list could go on. *Suggestion: Push the bounds of these classes and your professors.

Outside of BSU’s regular course offerings, I have found it helpful to volunteer tutor at Motivate Our Minds and Academic Achievers in town; tutor for pay at the Writing Center in RB 291 (the Learning Center is another option) and The Compass; and practice teaching through an Honors College program that allows undergraduates to teach an elective course under the mentorship of a professor. These experiences have helped me in the classroom and have also helped me with the Praxis 2, a content-specific, multiple-choice test for education majors. *Suggestion: If you’re sweating Praxis 1 or 2, just study SAT guides: English and Math for 1, and just the long reading passages for 2.

Currently, I’m doing my practicum in Anderson, where I’m working with a teacher for two morning periods for four weeks at the junior high and then four weeks at the high school. My practicum cooperating teacher at the junior high will be the same teacher I’ll work with during student teaching, which is great. I’ve been biting off as much as I can during class—helping students one-on-one, working with small groups, administering spelling tests, giving dramatic readings of “The Raven,” and learning how to manage teenagers in a classroom. She’s given me a lot of latitude to experiment with different ideas that I have while still supporting me so I don’t fall flat on my face.

Looking forward, I wonder about my own classroom. As much as I have learned from taking college classes and observing secondary school classes, I think there are other methods for teaching that will benefit my future students, examples of which I have seen by searching for “Sudbury Valley School” and “New Tech High” on YouTube. One activity that is helping me to feel less nervous about teaching solo is to write out everything I want to do with my future students. To that end, a friend, Luke Boggess, and I are bouncing ideas off of each other, contemplating what we want our classes to be like, and outlining our thoughts on a website (contact me if you’d like the url). *Suggestion: Try to solidify your own teaching plan via combination of practice and theory so that you won’t be left resorting to less effective methods when you start teaching.

Best of luck,

Phil Call

Writing Center Tutors Take on ECWCA

Ball State University was well-represented at the 2010 East Central Writing Center Association Conference in East Lansing, Michigan this April. Three undergraduate students (Tyler Gobble, Phil Call, and Neal Coleman) and two English graduate students (Emily Standridge and Dani Weber) who all work at the Writing Center presented papers at the conference.

In a panel presentation “Exploring the Writing Center’s Convergence with Social Capital,” Phil, Dani, and Emily explored the ways that social capital plays a role in writing center work. Tyler suggested in his presentation, “Creative Writers in the Writing Center,” that writing centers might pursue different paths to appeal more to creative writers. Neal presented on the effect, or lack of effect, that traditional advertising has on writing center services.

Ball State alum, Nikki Caswell (MA, Rhetoric and Composition) co-led a successful workshop on assessment at the conference. Writing Center Director Jackie Grutsch McKinney, also in attendance, was elected to Vice President of the organization.

The Writing Center: A Tutor’s Experience

The Writing Center helps Ball State University students with writing projects. The tutors offer free, one-on-one 50-minute sessions on all varieties of writing projects: essays, reports, websites, slideshows, theses, dissertations, proposals, resumes, and applications. The Writing Center’s purpose is to help students become better writers, whether it be learning to find grammatical errors or to organize an argument in writing. Students, both in the English Department and the University as a whole, are encouraged to stop by the Writing Center. As 97 percent of students rate tutoring sessions as good/excellent, it seems like an opportunity worth taking.

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