The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) is an interdisciplinary writing and research center that aims to support UW students, staff, and faculty on their diverse writing and research projects through one-to-one tutoring sessions, group tutoring sessions, workshops, and other programs. We serve nearly 5,000 students with over 10,000 one-to-one writing appointments each academic year. Our tutors are undergraduate and graduate students from a wide range of academic fields, and we provide a rich learning environment for writers and tutors alike.
The mission of the OWRC is to support the long-term development of writers and researchers across UW—undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff—through high-quality, conversation-based peer learning.
In the service of justice, equity, and inclusion, the OWRC seeks to be a national leader and a campus-wide resource for transforming how writing is learned, taught, and understood on the UW-Seattle campus. We imagine that this transformative work creates opportunities to learn, provides the space to negotiate and critique dominant academic discourses, and empowers students with agency to choose one’s way of being and writing. We firmly believe that there are many ways of making meaning and achieving one’s ends with writing, that writing is a relational act, and that all writing involves negotiations of power.
The OWRC serves students with a wide range of abilities and social, economic, cultural, ideological, racial, ethnic, gender, and linguistic identities. We value and honor diverse experiences and perspectives, strive to create a welcoming and respectful learning environment, and promote access, opportunity, and justice for all. We strive to support all writers–including tutors and staff– in writing and research development while achieving their personal and academic goals. We seek to be proactive in foregrounding linguistic justice as a center through trainings, professional development opportunities, and ongoing revision of policies and support offerings, and we seek to create a culture of listening to and learning from historically marginalized voices and literacies.
In Tutors’ Own Words
To demonstrate our firm belief in the value of writing in multiple different forms, we have provided an alternate version of this job description below. This description was collaboratively written by OWRC staff members:
“Mostly what we do is talk.”
“A good tutor knows how to ask the right questions to get writers talking – about their projects, about their ideas, about their classes, about what they’re trying to accomplish, about their own past experiences. In our perfect world, all the writers we work with become more confident, more independent, more comfortable with but also more sophisticated about their own writing and learning.”
“We never know what the next one-to-one session will bring. A returning student drafting the methods section of their Master’s thesis in Nursing. A new firsts year student from small-town Washington working on their first English composition paper. A multilingual International student putting the finishing touches on a dissertation chapter on nanotechnology. A first-generation college student trying to control a really unwieldy chemistry lab report. A senior finance major brainstorming ideas for their upcoming business competition speech. A mechanical engineer revising a how-to guide for their robotics team. Lots of it is new to us, and we don’t pretend we have all the answers. We learn to trust in the expertise of the writer. Most writers just need someone who will read their work thoughtfully and be interested in helping them develop it further.”
“And we listen. Really listen.”
“We offer ideas – strategize and troubleshoot, discuss the work they’ve done and what they still might do, brainstorm ideas for what questions to ask instructors, model a new skill, provide our responses as readers to what they’ve written so far, help make sense of other feedback they’ve gotten.”
“It means we have to be pretty flexible, always customizing our tutoring to the needs of the writer we’re working with at that moment, always figuring out new types of writing. It means we have to be relaxed and approachable, patient, so the writer feels like they can really say what’s on their mind. It means we have to have a kind of quiet confidence in our own thinking, research, and drafting practices so that we know what to share that might help the writer out. But we also have to cultivate the ability to learn from all the writers we work with so that we can round out our own creative problem-solving skills.“
“OWRC staff members have all sorts of synonyms for ‘tutor’: mediator, coach, translator, buffer zone, navigator, advocate, strategist, mentor, co-learner. We appreciate in each other a wide knowledge base, strong communication skills, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, intellectual curiosity, and shared commitment to supporting the writers who seek us out.”