Many students are struggling with basic reading and writing skills because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Jack Kenigsberg, acting coordinator of The Dr. Murray and Anna C. Rockowitz Writing Center, AKA RWC.
“I know from the conversations I’ve had with so many of you, that I’m not the only one who noticed this, is that more students than usual struggled with basic college skills – their reading was not as critical as it ought to have been, their writing not up to par, their attention spans attenuated,” he said in an email message to faculty members at the start of the fall 2022 semester.
“Those students pretty much lost a year, or two, of high school during the pandemic and they never really recovered,” he said. “This year’s incoming class suffered that disruption to their formal education two years ago, so perhaps those effects have been mitigated by a solid senior year. Perhaps. But perhaps not.”
“If you notice any of your students struggling to keep up, whether newly entering first years or not, I hope you will let them know that an academic support service like the Rockowitz Writing Center can help them bolster their skills and regain their confidence as students,” he said. The Rockowitz Writing Center AKA RWC is located on the 7th floor of the Hunter library, in the Silverstein Student Success Center.
“Many of our students,” he said in the message, “are afraid of writing, afraid that they simply don’t have it within themselves to write well. They are wrong. Writing is not a talent. It is a skill, and skills can be taught. Skills can be improved.” The RWC is a judgment free zone for students to receive help in the areas they are struggling with, Kenigsberg said.
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Paola Soto, double majoring in secondary education and English, is a second-year RWC tutor who started working in the center at the suggestion of one of her instructors who was impressed with the work she did in his class. Soto also said she was interested in this position because of the career she wanted to pursue after college. “I wanted to get more teaching experiences, because of the pandemic I couldn’t do fieldwork that much,” she said in an interview.
The writing center is open every day with in-person and online hours. Services at the RWC include proofreading essays, assisting with thesis papers and reading comprehension. Meetings range from 30 minutes to one hour. One of the models at the writing fundamentals peer relationship. Tutors work with students one-on-one to give them as much attention as needed.
Soto, who aspires to become a middle school teacher, said her role at the center is preparing her for a future career. “Being a one-on-one tutor is kind of similar to being a teacher,” she said. Her position as a tutor has helped her develop what she called transferable skills that can be helpful in any part of her life.
“I think it’s taught me a lot of ways to connect with people and connect with students,” said Soto. She feels a sense of purpose with her job at the RWC.
Soto also can help her fellow students learn to organize and develop essays as well as improve their writing. Students also can learn about the structure of an essay, thesis, the body of an essay, introduction, conclusion, reading comprehension and researching.
Soto also works part-time at Wholefoods in Soho 20-25 hours per week. She said juggling two jobs and a full-time course load can be demanding.
Additional Information About RWC
The center offers tutoring both in person and online. It is opened Monday to Saturday for one-on-one tutoring in person, by video and for asynchronous writing tutoring all week. Another way to introduce students to the center is through this link: Introducing the Writing Center video on instructor’s Blackboard site.
Kenigsberg said instructors should directly introduce their students to the writing center by having opportunity a RWC representative visit their classes for a five-to-10-minute presentation.
Students can find the center online by linking to this scheduling website, Contacting RWC: (212) 772-4212 or by email at email@example.com. The Rockowitz Writing Center is located on the 7th floor of the library, in the Silverstein Student Success Center.
Milan Dupuy can be reached at MILAN.DUPUY58@myhunter.cuny.edu