The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Librarians and Writing Lab team up to teach paper writing

By Shanna Nichols & Darwin Manning

The College is always looking for new ways to assist students in their educational endeavors, and the newest is a series of workshops led by the Academic Resource Centers (ARC), a collection of staff from the libraries and Writing Lab. These sessions are carried out in several areas of expertise, all aimed towards helping students and faculty to meet the high demands of the College. From classes on time management to effective research, they annually produce a series of workshops that allow the work of students and faculty at Grinnell to be done efficiently.

Lizzy Ryden ’12 brainstorms during Writing Lab Workshop “Writing in the Library: Developing Strategies for Research and Writing” led by Helyn Wohlwend on Monday. A list of student workshops organized by the Writing Lab can be found on the website of Academic Resource Centers. Photo taken by Radka Slamova.

For students, the topics for workshops this semester have ranged from “Read Easier: Developing Critical Reading Strategies” to “The Story Behind the Numbers: Writing about Data.”

In Burling Library this Monday, a workshop was held entitled “Writing in the Library: Developing Strategies for Research and Writing.” During this session, librarians Phil Jones and Rebecca Stuhr as well as Writing lab staff Helyn Wohlwend and Janet Carl covered the first steps of a research project.

Monday’s talk started with effective methods for brainstorming research topics. Next came investigating databases that help with producing concrete questions. Students were then asked to come up with two questions on their own. The theme throughout was how the entire process is cyclical.

“The idea is specifically that the process in writing and researching are related,” Jones said. “Writing can generate questions, which can, in turn, create new things to write about. It’s very cyclical.”

Students came to the talk on Monday for very different reasons, and with varying goals in mind, though they all left with a new outlook on how to approach this crucial part of the research process.

“With technology nowadays people are just going to try and Google their topic but if you come to a workshop like this, they will be able to guide you to the right sources to use,” said Joe Sinnwell ’12. “I’ll probably sit down with my professor and go over the research questions I came up with and evaluate where to go from there.”

Students are not the only ones invited to attend these workshops. The Arabic language assistant who attended the Monday workshop found it very helpful.

“I came to this workshop to learn new techniques for writing papers, because English is my second language,” said Mohammed Elamawy. “So I was hoping to get a better proficiency in writing papers and the whole process.”

There are also workshops geared specifically towards faculty. This semester’s have included, “Making Meaningful Media: Short Films, Graphic Novels and Academic Rigor” and “Resources for Teaching with Images.”

The next student-specific class is scheduled for March 14 and will address how to evaluate sources.

“The next student workshop will be really useful on finding data or evidence to support academic work and how to determine what is strong and useful,” Jones said.

The libraries and Writing Lab were trying to determine a way they could collaborate to best serve the campus community, and found the perfect opportunity through ARC last year. The workshops have changed quite a bit from last semester and feedback will probably cause more tweaking in the future.

“Now we have several people that are working together on a regular basis and I know that from a library perspective we would be very responsive to particular interest in workshops coming from students. We wouldn’t repeat the same ones every year,” Stuhr said.

What makes these workshops most useful is how far they are able to delve into specific topics. This separates them from a regular meeting with a class, where librarians or Writing Lab technicians are limited by what a professor hopes their students to obtain.

“These workshops are very, very focused, because when working with classes we don’t get into this. Some of these things like coming up with questions, or thesis are not covered by the library or Writing Lab,” Jones said. “They might be covered in the class but we don’t know, so this was the Writing Lab and library’s take on how to get this started at the same time.”

The librarians and writing staff also really enjoy the process of helping the students develop their education.

“One of the things that we are always doing is working with students from the first-year tutorial and onwards,” Stuhr said. “There is so much we want to get across and I always want to meet and talk with them more because we are all very interested in students’ success.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *