Interview with Director of Writing Programs Dawn Abt-Perkins

With the writing center at full capacity rolling into finals week, the Weekly News sat down with Writing Center director Dawn Abt-Perkins to talk about learning, writing, and condoms.

Weekly News: What’s going on at the Writing Center these days?

Dawn Abt-Perkins: It’s interesting and exciting how busy we have been this semester and how valuable students find their peers to be. There’s a kind of buzz or learning that only can occur through a “knowledgable peer,” someone who’s not a faculty member or even an adult. Studies show students find it beneficial to learn from someone their age who is slightly more experienced and successful.

WN: What’s it like at the Center during finals?

DAP: It’s packed here, but it’s been this way all semester. Besides having five fewer tutors this fall over last, we have seen an increase of 40 standing appointments. We also have learned to create expectations of our students to be prepared and focused during the appointments, As a result they’ve gotten much more out of their time [at the Center].

WN: What would surprise readers to learn about the Writing Center?

DAP: I think my colleagues would be surprised by how much value there is to teaching students how to take notes, both on what they are listening to in class and on the readings they are doing. There are completely different strategies involved with reading to support an argument rather than reading simply for the facts. That’s a learned process, and something our students teach at the Writing Center.  

WN: What’s the story with the condoms?

DAP: They’re giveaways for students who come by the Pierson Rooms during our third “Write All Night” event taking place this Sunday, December 15 starting at 7 p.m.