Southern California Writing Center Association Presentation


In February 2019, I presented research with an awesome team of tutors at University of California, Irvine under the SoCal Writing Center Association. In late 2018, we submitted a research proposal, and it was accepted! Our proposal is posted below, and you can find our presentation here.

Abstract: Navigating through college is overwhelming for any student. By incorporating social-emotional learning strategies, we can increase students’ comfort levels, helping them feel noticed and at ease, giving them a sense of belonging. This presentation utilizes the 5 C’s: calm, connect, collaborate, create, and celebrate. By applying these steps, students are encouraged to take advantage of their resources without feeling undervalued because we are better equipped to consider the additional stresses of negative thinking and how it impairs the mind at work.

Proposal: Navigating through college is overwhelming for any student. Even with resources to help students cope with the rigors of campus life, the students who need the most help often do not feel comfortable reaching out, discouraging them from developing a confident approach to learning. This hesitation not only limits the student, but it also conceals where we need to allocate resources. As a supplement to higher education, our objective is to minimize our students’ obstacles. Through the use of social-emotional strategies, we are better equipped to reduce students’ invisibility. When students are comfortable in academic settings, they increase content mastery by 27.5% (Theobald, 2017). A comfortable, safe learning environment allows students to see their potential, and it eliminates destructive negative thinking (Fogle, 1979). When students are not stressed by negative emotions, they can control the type of information that makes it to the brain (Metcalfe, 2017). 

Using this information, we will explain how we can empower all students, ensuring comfort and equity through what we call the “5 C’s”: calm, connect, collaborate, create, and celebrate. Employing quick check-ins are effective ways of incorporating the “5 C’s.” We will conduct a set of takeaway activities that appeal to all learners, such as personal weather reports (asking students: What’s your weather report for today? Sunny? Cloudy? What’s the forecast for the weekend?), coin counts (inviting tutors to consider a student’s energy levels — example: Sarah wakes up feeling like $100, but she’s just found out that her deadline for homework has been moved up. This energy takes $10 from her initial amount, so she now has $90 to spend on the rest of the day. Sarah later realizes in the day that she has to meet up with an academic advisor instead of going to the movies, which she was looking forward to doing all weekend to take a breather. Now, she is at $70. A lot of other things happen to Sarah before she sees the tutor. Will the tutor help rebuild Sarah’s coin count? Or will the tutor take more from her and discourage her from getting the help she needs on a paper?), thorns and roses (looking at what we excel at and things we need to improve in our writing and/or in little things that happen throughout the week), and speed-dating (questions that generate a sense of familiarity with students). To do this, we will divide participants into groups, asking them to practice the check-in they feel most comfortable with. After, we will reconvene and have participants reflect on their check-in of choice. While they may seem a bit unorthodox, it is just enough to break the barrier between the student and tutor.

By celebrating student work, we remind them of their value in academia. Essential to this, creating a calm environment helps the student combat their insecurities. When we connect with students, we acknowledge that they can have unfavorable circumstances, thus alleviating isolated thinking. Working as facilitators between students and professors in a collaborative effort breaks the barriers of student discomfort and intimidation. By applying creative techniques to engage students, we encourage growth mindsets, removing students from negative thinking.


Fogle, D. O. (1979). Preparing Students for the Worst: The Power of Negative Thinking. Personnel & Guidance Journal, 57(7), 364. Retrieved from

Metcalfe, J. (2017, January/February). Learning from Errors. Retrieved October 20, 2018, from doi:

Theobald, E. J., Eddy, S. L., Grunspan, D. Z., Wiggins, B. L., & Crowe, A. J. (2017). Student perception of group dynamics predicts individual performance: Comfort and equity matter. PLoS ONE, 12(7), 1–16.

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