Working with words

A faint smell of fresh paint fills the halls of Woodson Hall at Grambling State University. It is not until you explore the building and take the third right to the far back of the second floor when two then classrooms now stick out like a fork in the road. 

When the Department of English and Foreign Languages saw a declining trend of quality writing in college students not only at the university but in the United States as well, alumna Dr. Evelyn Wynn took action. 

During the fall, as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Wynn drafted and proposed a Title III grant to fund two state-of-the-art computer labs.

The facilities became available for students at the beginning of this semester. Both labs have a fresh coat of gold paint on the walls and new carpet, creating a warm-welcoming environment and something different.  

According to Wynn, the labs support the mission of university President Frank Pogue in a positive environment. 

“(What) I like most about the lab is that is does what Dr. Pogue wants to do,” Wynn said with a smile in the English Writing Enhancement Lab. “It provides enhanced learning for students.”

The EWEL lab is located in Woodson Hall Room 231, and across the hall is the English Instructional Computer Classroom. Both labs include technological advanced equipment that include a 55″ flat screen television, several Dell Optiplex 790 desktops, printers and a Smart Board. 

A Smart Board is an interactive white board infused with technology. This easy to use device includes a projector, computer inputs, touch screen and digital.

Opened for all students enrolled at the university, a team of volunteers and tutors help students developing essays, improving grammar, proofreading and brainstorming. In addition mini-workshops have covered a variety of topics for students. 

Sociology major Quantreus Hayes attended EWEL’s recent workshop called Writing about Religion in an Academic Manner, which was presented by Dr. David Hodges III, whose dissertation was related to the topic.

“I think it was real good,” said Hayes after the workshop was over. “(Especially) the topic on perspective and descriptive.”

Linda Ward, 66, a professor and the EWEL lab coordinator, wants to continue the enhancement of the lab with improvements and offer more workshops in the near future. 

“The atmosphere in the EWEL is both friendly and productive,” Ward said. Before Title III funded the labs, “Our equipment was ancient and it was not a good learning environment for learning,” she said.

Student volunteer Curtis Randle echoed Ward and added how the current labs have improved drastically from fall 2012 semester. He described the current labs as, “More calm and quieter here than (before). Its pleasant up here to me.” 

In an effort to increase students’ participation and to make them aware of the labs, professors have informed their students about the new EWEL lab. Such as Dr. Tracy Thomas, who informed his English literature class March 20 to attend the upcoming workshops for extra credit.  

Teachers who have taught in the English Instructional Computer Classroom lab have noted the increase in their students’ attendance and participation this semester. 

Students can easily see how to conduct proper research for a paper from the technology in the lab, according to Dr. Beatrice McKinsey, coordinator of the Department of English and Foreign Languages. 

“The technology helps me to provide better instruction because I can actually teach students how to conduct research, to develop essays, and to complete assignments more effectively right here in the classroom,” McKinsey, a Minden resident. “I don’t have to send them to a lab.” 

Equipped with 30 computers that emerge from the desk, the wireless classroom is designed to provide a stimulating learning environment for students enrolled in Freshman Composition 101 and 102. The EICC is only available for English majors, but teachers outside the disciplines may reserve the room in advance. The purpose the EICC is to provide students with hands on learning and blended learning on research and essay revisions. 

Future plans include expansions to the neighboring rooms and hosting weekly workshops in the fall. A main concern for Ward and Wynn is raising the awareness of the EWEL lab to all students and identify their weaknesses.

 “We must find ways to address students’ writing needs,” explained Wynn. “We are trying to reach them when they first enter the university.”

The writing enhancement lab is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is closed Friday. Walk-ins are welcomed, according to Ward; however, to make an appointment or for additional information, call extension 274-2352 or email Ward at