U Writing Center Works to Improve Student Writing


Adam Fondren

J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT on May 14, 2017. (Photo by Adam Fondren | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Allison Stuart, News Writer


The University of Utah Writing Center is a free resource that students of any level at the U can utilize for their various writing needs.

Whether students are looking for general feedback on their writing, want to brainstorm ideas, look to gain writing tips or just need some more insight on an assignment, the writing center can help. Students are encouraged to submit their writing from any class, at any stage of the writing process.

Tutors can help students with grammar and punctuation issues, citing in different styles and identifying weak parts of writing that may need revision.

There are options for students of all levels of education to use the writing center. There is one for undergraduate students and another for graduate students here at the U.

The undergraduate writing center is located on the second floor of the Marriott Library and the graduate level writing center can be found in the Eccles Health Sciences Library.

Anne McMurtrey, the writing center director, wants to clear up confusion students might have about availability. During the busiest times of the semester, they do fill up more than normal, but it isn’t anything their team cannot handle. 

We always get busy around midterms and finals, but we still have plenty of spots available,” McMurtrey said. “In an ideal world, every tutorial spot would be taken by a U of U student. We want to help as many people as possible!”

While they tend to be busiest during finals weeks, there are still spots available for those students who want to use the center. 

And with current health situations compromised, the writing center offers a variety of options for students to get the help they need. They can do a meeting live online, face to face or asynchronously.

A newer resource the writing center has is an online platform called eTutoring. This is a website where students submit papers online to then receive written feedback, without having to go to campus. 

They also offer other resources on their website for students looking for quick answers to any questions they might have.

The center has a staff of 16 undergraduate tutors from a variety of majors to better help the student body. Each tutor is required to take a semester-long course about topics such as creating inclusive spaces in the writing center and appreciating diverse perspectives. 

Students can create a free account on the website to keep track of their future appointments and schedule meetings easier.

“If you have an essay due next week, you can log in now, make an appointment with one of our tutors in the next couple of days to brainstorm or look at a rough draft and then also make a second appointment to look at your final draft,” McMurtrey said. “We can help students multiple times on the same draft.”

Rebecca Zortman, a freshman, used the writing center during the fall semester when things got stressful. 

I used the writing center because I had very little experience in writing longer papers,” Zortman said. “I had a class last semester which required me to write longer than two pages.”

Zortman explained that by using this resource she was able to reduce stress. 

“When I heard about the writing center, I felt better about my situation because I was really nervous about having to write longer papers,” Zortman said. “I was able to just walk in and get help when I needed it and they were super supportive. With their help, I ended up getting an A in the class.”

According to McMurtrey, the number of students getting help with their writing has been increasing every year.

“Each year, we have 5,200 to 7,800 tutorials between the undergraduate writing center, graduate writing center and eTutoring,” McMurtrey said. “I anticipate those numbers to increase, since we’ve expanded our services to include both live and asynchronous online tutoring, in addition to our always-popular in-person service.”

She explained the main goal of the writing center is to improve. 

“We want to help you develop strategies to make you a better writer and help you to see your potential as an academic author,” McMurtrey said. 


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