By Gary D. Myers
By now most members of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary community have heard of The Write Stuff — the seminary’s quality enhancement plan designed to improve academic writing. The plan calls for a host of writing helps, resources and services for students.
One of the most visible aspects of The Write Stuff initiative is the new NOBTS writing center which opened Feb. 16. While the writing center will focus on helping students improve their class papers, the center’s director, Dr. Jeff Griffin, sees a much greater purpose.
“The Great Commission has to be communicated,” Griffin said. “Even though the writing center is helping students hone their skills to meet the course requirements, at the end of the day, we are helping students learn to communicate the greatest message ever told.”
Calling today’s culture “truth adverse,” Griffin said critical thinking and clear communication of the gospel is more important than ever. Good writing techniques, he said, help students focus thoughts and formulate reasoned responses to important issues. Griffin believes that all this attention to detail in academic writing should lead to better preaching and gospel communication.
“For me, this is far more than just helping students get a better grade on assignments in courses,” Griffin said. “Ultimately this is going to translate to the local church.”
The writing center, located in Hardin Student Center Room 290B next to ITC, is open from noon until 5 p.m. on weekdays. Staffed by student writing coaches, the center’s services are available to all NOBTS and Leavell College students regardless of location.
In-person consultations are available on the main campus and “virtual” consultations via the telephone are available to all students. Virtual coaching sessions are not limited to the noon-5 p.m. window when the physical center is open. Writing coaches will be available in the evenings for the telephone consultation. In fact, Griffin expects much of the coaching will take place via telephone after a rough draft is submitted via email.
Regardless of whether students are seeking in-person or virtual consultation, the starting point is the same. Students begin the process by completing an online appointment request form at http://nobts.edu/writing/make-an-appointment.html. The form allows students to request a consultation and learn how to submit the rough draft of their paper. Students planning an in-person consultation in HSC 290B should submit an appointment request and a rough draft several hours before they plan to visit the writing center.
Writing coaches will read the first five pages and the conclusion of the paper before the follow-up consultation. Each paper will be evaluated on the following five criteria: 1. Logical Development; 2. Grammar; 3. Citation Style; 4. Quality of Sources; and 5. Writing Style.
Griffin said the center is committed to timely responses to students. The goal, he said, is for coaches to contact a student for the follow-up consultation within 72 hours of receiving the rough draft. During the final coach-student consultation, which takes up to 30 minutes, the coach reviews the five-point evaluation with the students and offers suggestions to help improve the paper.
Other aspects of The Write Stuff include writing guides, resources and helpful links designed to help NOBTS students become better writers. For more information about The Write Stuff, visit www.nobts.edu/writing.