The Academic Writing Center is an online service in conjunction with the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) Center for Writing & Scholarship (CWS). CWS offers a variety of services from workshops to private tutoring for students interested in developing more advanced writing, reading and research skills. You can access CWS from your myCIIS page.
The Center for Writing & Scholarship (CWS) views reading, writing, and research as interconnected processes that depend on inquiry, critical thinking, engagement, self-reflective analysis, and collaboration. The mission is twofold: we strive not only to assist individuals in developing effective academic writing, reading, research, and communication skills, but, more importantly, to do so in ways that prioritize the unique interests, learning processes, and epistemological diversity of those with whom we work. Through our programming, we hope to create spaces for dialogue and collaboration among the different constituencies on campus in order to support the continued academic and professional growth of all CIIS community members.
CWS also includes Editing Services, a free service for CIIS staff and students who identify as international, English as a Second Language (ESL), or as having a learning disability.
CWS welcomes writers of all levels of experience and interest. Our goals are to help individuals develop a growing awareness and understanding about how to effectively develop and communicate their ideas to an audience through writing. The complexity of accomplishing this while also ensuring that we are helping to foster independent scholars and writers necessitates that our tutoring approaches be multi-layered, active, question-based, and process-oriented.
Rather than “fixing” papers, individuals who come to CWS can expect to be involved participants during their consultations with CWS Fellows. More specifically, students can expect to identify what they would like to focus on and why, talk through their ideas, learn how to revise and communicate their ideas more effectively, evaluate their own writing, and develop plans of action with the assistance of the Fellows. We encourage everyone to set up appointments well in advance of due dates of assignments to discuss papers and ideas at different points in the writing process and ensure they have sufficient time to develop, grapple with, and revise their work.
When using our services, individuals may learn how to:
- Brainstorm ideas for a paper and develop possible approaches or plans for writing the paper
- Analyze course assignments in order to determine how to begin and complete assignments
- Develop more effective and sophisticated methods for reading, questioning, and responding to texts
- Become more aware of their approaches to learning, studying, writing, reading, and communicating
- Develop arguments and claims, analytical techniques, organizational forms, and research-based inquiry in order to develop and communicate their ideas effectively to specific audiences
- Analyze sample essays and published texts in order to identify and practice using different rhetorical discourses, styles, and forms for various academic fields and genres of writing
- Identify and locate patterns of sentence-level issues in their writing, discuss and learn the corresponding grammatical or stylistic concepts and rules with the help of grammar and style handbooks, and develop strategies for locating and revising these issues independently
- Learn how to assess and revise their writing at different stages of the writing process
- Professionally insert themselves as scholars into established academic fields in order to engage established ideas and contribute new ideas to those fields
Writing Services for Students and Alums
CWS writing workshops are structured around a particular topic, skill, or theme common to CIIS assignments and academic writing. They allow students to focus on skill-building for a specific component of the reading, writing, and research process. A portion of workshop time is devoted to practical application, where students can apply the skills and strategies they learn to the papers on which they are working. Past topics have included assignment analysis, critical reading skills, organizing/structuring papers, tackling the literature review, deconstructing the critical reflective essay, writing for academic publication, narrowing a topic, and selecting and analyzing quotes.
Individual weekly or by-appointment sessions are ideal for those who are interested in working on their reading, writing, and research skills on a regular basis during the semester. Sessions are 50 minutes long and can occur in the CWS tutoring center or online. The primary purpose of tutoring is to provide support to individuals while fostering their growing independence, self-awareness, and confidence as writers.
CWS writing groups give individuals a dedicated space to talk about and work on their papers in a group environment. CWS writing fellows co-facilitate writing groups and design peer review activities, interactive mini-lesson modules, and assignments that expose students to effective academic writing, reading, literacy, revision, and peer review skills in a structured environment. Writing group participants not only practice applying these skills to their own papers, but also become more analytical, careful readers of, and thoughtful responders to their colleagues’ work within a supportive community setting.
Services for Faculty: Core and Adjunct
The task of assisting students to develop their writing, reading, research, and communication skills is a joint and collaborative effort between the students, the tutoring staff, and the core and adjunct faculty. A central part of the CWS mission is thus supporting the pedagogical practices of the CIIS core and adjunct faculty themselves, and particularly as these practices pertain to teaching academic writing, reading, and research skills. Contact CWS director Brynn Saito for more information on how faculty can take advantage of various writing services:
- Reflect on what they expect students to know or learn about effective writing, reading, and research skills.
- Determine how to assess the extent to which the students are developing, learning, and mastering writing skills and how to identify the effects faculty pedagogy, course structure, and feedback have on students development as writers, readers, and scholars.
- Reflect on how faculty and the CWS tutoring and professional staff can collaborate to support students more effectively.