Academic Writing Center
Who are we and what do we do?
The Academic Writing Center is a space for the learning and teaching of (academic) writing. We offer individual writing consultations, workshops, and materials for all writers, students, and faculty. We also train students of all disciplines to become writing tutors.
According to Stephen North writing centers are “an institutional response” to the need of talking about writing. We believe that it is important to provide a space, specifically designated for writing-related topics, as there are preconceived notions on what the writing-process should (and shouldn’t) look like. We acknowledge and appreciate that each individual may employ their knowledge, background and resources in unique ways.
What is a Writing Center?
Students can go to the Writing Center to get one-to-one feedback on their writing from specially trained peers. Writing Centers are animated by the idea that writing is a process, and good writing is the result of a process that includes feedback and revision. Many students jump to the conclusion that Writing Centers are only for those students who are struggling with writing or who are getting bad grades. In truth, Writing Centers work to avoid deficit-oriented thinking and practices (we are not going to fill you up with our expertise), and even the most advanced students find our writing conferences helpful and productive. All writers, regardless of their talent or experience, need careful, attentive readers and good feedback.
Writing Centers are available for students at any point in their studies, at all levels of academic writing proficiency and experience. Writing Centers are / Our Writing Center is designed to support students as they transition to university study and are confronted with the high expectations and unfamiliar demands of university writing in English. But we are also there for advanced students writing their BA or MA theses or working through a term paper, and for PhD candidates working on their dissertations. Students can bring any genre of text to the Writing Center (Hausarbeit, lab report, essay, thesis) from any discipline. We are also happy to work with students on writing they do outside of the university, like a personal statement for a graduate school or internship application, or creative work.
How is our mission connected to the faculty and/or our institution as such?
- We strongly believe in the importance of critical thinking and its role in fostering responsible citizenship. We also believe that one of most effective ways to develop critical thinkers/ critical thinking is through writing.
- We thrive to encourage all writers in finding their own voice, develop their analytical and critical thinking, and to foster writing skills that will be helpful in the workplace.
- We are aware of the diverse backgrounds and learning biographies of our students and we aim at offering each person resources, methods, and material that will help them in their individual growth.
- We understand that academic writing is strongly related to and based in the disciplines. You will learn how to think, act, and write “like a biologist” mostly in Biology, not at the Writing Center. Nevertheless it can be beneficial to talk to us about your writing projects, because our Writing Center will offer you a friendly and non-judgemental space where you can explore ideas and develop new strategies without feeling the need to impress your teachers or feel pressured to pretend that you know everything already.
What we don’t do:
- Proofread or edit papers, although talking about recurring errors or other grammatical issues is always an option and will hopefully lead you to a better understanding of how to shape your paper according to your reader’s expectations
- Grade papers. Only Professors have the institutional power to evaluate papers. Thus, as peer writing tutors, we cannot tell you whether or not your paper is “good” or assign it a grade.
- Offer “last minute” or emergency consultations. Please make sure to contact us early enough for you to revise your paper; we will always try to give you an appointment as quickly as possible!
What do we believe in?
- Writing - that means also and especially academic writing - is a craft that can be learned and taught. It is not a “natural talent” or a gift that you either have or you don’t have. If we look at academic writing as a craft and compare it to learning a musical instrument, it becomes obvious that one needs (a lot of) time and ample opportunities for practicing it. Writing research has shown how beneficial teachers and tutors can be in this process. Giving and receiving feedback, revising one’s texts (sometimes several times), developing healthy writing routines, and learning from good and bad examples also play a major role in the acquisition of writing skills.
- In the Writing Center we think of ourselves as writers. We will not judge you or try to give grades - our main job consists of listening to your ideas, reading your text carefully, and talking with you about possible next steps. Working at a Writing Center does *not* mean that we are in any way “perfect” or that we never struggle with deadlines or challenging writing assignments. What we do have is a thorough understanding of individual writing processes, of conversation techniques, of helpful strategies and methods that could improve your writing routines, and we have access to the vast field of writing research. This helps us to support you in your journey to become a better writer!
- We are skilled and diverse readers.
What We Offer
Resources for Students, PhD Candidates, And Faculty
Who We Are
Dr. Stephanie Dreyfürst, founder and director of the AWC, PhD in Early Modern German Literature, currently working on a habilitation treatise about the effects the Writing Fellow program has on the acquisition of academic writing and on the teaching of academic writing in the disciplines. She is a member of EATAW (European Association of the Teaching of Academic Writing), the gefsus (Gesellschaft für Schreibdidaktik und Schreibforschung), Co-Chairwoman of the German skeptics organisation (GWUP) and Co-Editor of the Writing Centers Across Borders blog.
Carly Crane, a Master’s student in American Studies, is, in addition to working as a peer writing tutor, the Assistant Director of the Outreach Program at the AWC. She received her BA from Barnard College in New York City, where she worked as a Writing Fellow for the Barnard Writing Center for two and a half years. Carly is currently writing her Master’s thesis on the work of memoirist, poet, and critic Maggie Nelson, and she also works for the IEAS as a tutor.
Yannick Gutmann is enrolled in the teacher training course at Goethe University, studying English and French. His main fields of interest are civic education in public schools and formal grammar. He worked as a Peer Tutor and Writing Fellow at the Schreibzentrum Frankfurt for two and a half years and has experience in both peer tutoring and teacher-centered instruction. At the AWC, Yannick is currently co-developping the workshop program and training sessions for future writing tutors at the AWC.
Christina Steinbach is currently completing her Bachlelor’s degree in Southeast Asian Studies. At the AWC, she works with students as a peer tutor for writing conferences and fulfills the role of Assistant Creative Director. Prior to this position, Christina spent a year at Goethe-University’s Schreibzentrum as a peer writing tutor. She recently switched to the SZaR which caters to the needs of beginning Natural Sciences students in writing-related topics.