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Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet

This document provides a brief summary of the award-winning Purdue University On-Campus Writing Lab's history, recent statistics of the Lab use, and evaluations of the learning that takes place in the Lab.

A Journey from a One-room Operation

The Purdue University On-Campus Writing Lab was founded in 1976 by Dr. Muriel Harris as a resource for Purdue writers. Operation started off in one room with three tutors, who welcomed writers of any skill level to a one-to-one tutorial. This tradition still lives on in a three-room complex with over 50 tutors and support staff. During their tutorials, students can discuss any aspect of their writing with a trained and caring tutor who will provide instructive feedback. Tutors work with students at all levels -- from freshmen to graduate students -- on papers in all disciplines as well as on job search documents such as resumes and cover letter.

Launching the World's First Online On-Campus Writing Lab

In an attempt to bring the On-Campus Writing Lab to students no matter where they were, Dr. Harris and David Taylor started the world's first Online Writing Lab (OWL) as an email server/GOPHER FTP service in 1993. In 1994, Stuart Blythe brought the OWL to the World Wide Web. The OWL has grown into a popular web site that received over 192 million pageviews from May 2019 - April 2020. This represents an 18.5% gain over the traffic for the previous year. In March 2012, the OWL further extended its reach to meet diverse user needs by launching the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel. The OWL’s YouTube channel currently has over 25,000 subscribers.

The OWL's 25th Anniversary Retrospective

Attentive Services for Growing and Diversifying Needs

The On-Campus Writing Lab and Online Writing Lab have over 200 instructional handouts on writing skills and issues. Students and faculty can also use its reference library of books, journals, and reference materials. Additional services have been added over the years as well. In-lab and in-class workshops on writing skills, specific resources for English as a Second Language (ESL) students, the Grammar Hotline (since discontinued), and computer writing facility have been developed to meet the growing and diversifying needs of writers. The On-Campus Writing Lab receives many visitors from other universities as far away as South Africa and Japan, who view it as a benchmark for both On-Campus Writing Lab and online On-Campus Writing Lab excellence.

Becoming an Award-winning Writing Program

With the retirement of Dr. Harris in May 2003, the On-Campus Writing Lab was then directed by Dr. Linda Bergmann, with Tammy Conard-Salvo serving as assistant director. Under their direction, we continued to answer the need of the time, while keeping the tradition of our commitment to providing one-to-one feedback on student writing. In 2004, it was recognized that we are on the right track. The Purdue University On-Campus Writing Lab was one of eleven winners of the Conference on College Composition and Communication's (CCCC's) Writing Program Certificate of Excellence for Fall 2004. Conducting a major revision of its Web Site pages both in design and content in 2005, the Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab continued to fulfill its engagement in serving writers' needs today.

For More Information

If you would like more information about On-Campus Writing Lab services, use, or engagement, please contact our current director, Harry Denny.