Gaming grammar: Student tutor Lindsay Meaning
By James Southworth, PhD
“Working at Laurier’s Writing Centre has been formative to my academic career,” said Lindsay Meaning, who studied English at Laurier. In September 2016, Meaning will pursue a master’s in Experimental Digital Media at the University of Waterloo.
Meaning began working at the Writing Centre in the beginning of her third year. Although she was a strong writer at the time, she had some concerns about tutoring other students. Most notably, she had never been taught formal grammar.
“I could tell when something was grammatically wrong, but I couldn’t explain why it was wrong.”
During her tenure as a writing tutor, with ongoing Writing Centre training and additional grammar reading on her own, Meaning turned this weakness into a strength.
In fact, grammar instruction has blossomed into a research interest for Meaning. Her proposed master’s project arose out of her experience working at the Writing Centre. She wants to help others learn the mechanics of English grammar, but not in a traditional method of instruction. Instead, Meaning wants to take grammar into the 21st century. She is planning to “integrate educational content like grammar into video games in innovative ways.”
While Meaning insists that entertainment is the fundamental goal of any video game, she is interested in how educational content can be embedded into the gaming experience. In this way, players will find themselves learning without even knowing they’re learning. Ultimately, Meaning hopes to blur the line between playing and learning.
“I want to focus on the digital humanities, especially literature and writing instruction. I have a personal passion for game studies.” Meaning isn’t exactly sure where all of these interests will lead her. Beyond her master’s program, she is open to numerous possibilities, from working within academia as a professor to a position within the video game industry.
In addition to teaching and tutoring skills, working at the Writing Centre provided Meaning with a unique research opportunity. In collaboration with some of her Writing Centre colleagues, she was the co-author of a project funded by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. The project, which focused on writing assignment instruction in Ontario, resulted in a publication and two conference presentations. Meaning played a central role in the project and developed additional skills in report writing and interview transcription. More than anything, she was able to see the time and dedication that a major research project requires.
Throughout Meaning’s experience as a writing tutor, she has learned a great deal about writing. “I think more about the process of writing now. It’s a more conscious process for me. Through tutoring students, I’ve learned to think of writing on a more meta-level. It’s like being outside the Matrix and seeing the code.”