Tips from the Writing Center Tutors

Please let your students know that tutors can help them with every step in the writing process--from brainstorming to revising--but that tutors will not "spellcheck" or “proofread” a draft.  In fact, you can help by avoiding words like “proofread” when you send your students to us.   Please don’t say, “You need to have your papers proofread in the Writing Center,” but, instead, “A Writing Center tutor can help you revise and edit this paper to make it more effective.”

Encourage your students to take your instruction sheets and guidelines to the Center when they go for help.  Students often come in with no idea of what a professor expects, but the tutor can get some idea from the instruction sheet.  You might also consider sending the Center a copy of your instructions, especially for essays written in Core classes.  Tutors can file the instructions for future consultation.

If you send a student to the Center after you've read and marked a draft, please be sure that your comments on the draft are legible.  Also, please be specific about what improvements you'd like to see in the draft--a more substantial thesis, better organization, a stronger conclusion, and so forth.

Although we are open many hours a week, students usually wait until the very last moment (you're not surprised, I'm sure) to visit the Center.  We've had students come in with drafts of essays that are due within hours of their visit.  If more professors repeat the advice to visit the Center early, perhaps students will begin to listen.  Stress that good writing takes time and that working through a process (prewriting-writing-rewriting) generally produces the best papers.

Please be aware that a student will occasionally protest to you that he or she has been to the Writing Center even though the finished paper shows no evidence of improvement.  While it is true that some visits to the Center are unproductive for whatever reason, most serious students who come to the Writing Center show improvement over time.  If you suspect that a student writer is not being honest about having visited us, you can find out for certain whether he has.  We keep a log of every visit.  Students sign in, and tutors record in the log the course for which the paper is being written, the time and length of the tutorial, and the advice given to the student.   If you have any doubts, please call us.