The type of decorations used in a space ultimately shapes the activities and attitudes that occur within it. For example, the walls of books, desks, and Southwestern floor lamps within a library prompt visitors to be quiet and thoughtful as they study or read. In contrast, this space would not be conducive to house a basketball game with screaming fans and basketball hoops. While this is an extreme instance, it illustrates the effect a building’s design has on its purpose and audience. The same understanding can be applied to writing spaces as well. Writing centers are an important part of these writing spaces. Directors need to investigate which decor encourages best tutoring pedagogies and how variations of it can alter tutorial sessions. Writing centers must satisfy diverse populations with a variety of needs, be accessible to all, have a comfortable and/or friendly environment, and be aesthetically conscious.
Most practitioners believe that a comfortable environment leads to a productive one because students are encouraged to discuss their papers more openly in a safe space. Such security reinforces the concept of student ownership in their work as they are more willing to be active agents in the revision process. This can be achieved by forming an environment that is different from usual institutional buildings in terms of the decorations used in the center.
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The pleasant atmosphere can be achieved through kinds of decor. For example, universities supply art, plants, coffee machines, and noise reducing panels in order to put students at ease. A desk style where consultants and clients can sit next to each other also reduces stress by decreasing the power dynamic. Finally, having access to materials other than paper to organize one’s thoughts helps provide comfort to students. These can include items like whiteboards, sticky notes, projectors, and smart technologies.
While directors believe a certain aesthetic can be achieved using the same method, not all centers want to create the same atmosphere. Thus, their end results are different. Universally, centers use paint color to indicate the type of environment they want to have. A space painted a mixture of warm colors marks it as other from an academic building and makes the center feel more relaxed. In contrast, others rely mostly on plain colored walls so that their scheme is consistent with that of the university’s. This creates a center with a more professional tone, so as to add to the ethos of the organization. Neither decision is better than the other, yet it is a prime example of how design can directly affect the goals of a writing center.