Skip to content

New Help for Student Writers

“Your paper is due on Friday—get it done.” This may sound easy, but often it’s not. The recently renamed Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center’s newest services are helping more and more students with their writing—and also the faculty who assign it. Under the direction of Kirsten Benson—and with the generous help of Judi and Jim Herbert (’63)—the center has created a new culture of writing for students and faculty on campus.

New Help for Student WritersOne exciting new service in the Herbert Writing Center staff is assistance from undergraduate tutors from a wide variety of fields—linguistics, music, audiology and speech pathology, computer science, philosophy, and more. These tutors receive intensive training and gain lots of practice providing feedback to the writers who visit the center. Their peers from disciplines all over campus love to seek them out and get their advice.

Another new and highly successful service is specialized help for students preparing application materials, such as cover letters for jobs, résumés, and personal statements for law, medical, and other graduate schools. With so much at stake with such documents, students can sometimes feel uncomfortable when others read their drafts. The Herbert Writing Center tutors, however, make writers feel confident and able to create more powerful application materials. This service has been received very positively, with 100 percent reporting they would recommend it to other students.

Students are not the only ones who are getting more support; the Herbert Writing Center is now offering writing-in-the-disciplines workshops for faculty outside the Department of English. Instructors from any department on campus gather to learn about and discuss best practices for designing writing assignments and responding to and assessing writing assignments. Three new faculty workshop series have been offered in the past year, with plans for more.

The Herbert Writing Center, in other words, is becoming a hub for student and faculty support across campus, with more than 18,000 student visits in the past year from every college. A satellite location is now open in Pendergrass Library to support students on the Herbert College of Agriculture plus graduate student writers seeking in-person help for coursework and thesis/dissertation writing. The center has also partnered with the Graduate School, the Center for Career Development, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Honors and Scholars Programs, and other departments to offer numerous workshops tailored to specific students’ writing needs.

Quotes from the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center dedication ceremony on October 11, 2019
I’m very grateful for the tutors’ knowledge and support they provided all of my years of college. As I kept meeting with friendly tutors, I felt more confident in my writing. The Writing Center has helped me so much with my organizational skills, and I was able to apply so much in my writing-intensive science courses throughout the rest of my undergraduate career. Moreover, now that I’ve graduated from UT and am in the process of working through medical school applications, the Writing Center has been greatly instrumental with providing useful advice.
— Brittney Bannor, biochemistry and molecular biology major (’19)

Their recognition and desire to better understand what I do in my classes and in my discipline in order to help the students they serve speaks to the value that they provide to the UT community. Across the board, my students who took advantage of their services wrote better papers both relative to their peers and to previous semesters. This was true even for students who were struggling. They help students, and they also help me, and my colleagues, become better teachers and in turn help our students. Most importantly, they get clear results.
— Alex Feldt, senior lecturer in philosophy

With the leadership that we have in place in the Writing Center, I feel that we can only do more and more wonderful things. We can now help students all across campus. The most exciting thing that I see is the seminars that are occurring to help faculty help their students become better writers. We never want to see a UT graduate who cannot compose a good paper.
— Judith Anderson Herbert (’63)

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.