FAQs from Instructors
I told a student to go to the Writing Center to work on grammar. Why does the paper still contain errors?
When it comes to grammar, mechanics, syntax, and word choice, Writing Center tutors focus on process rather than product. That is, we teach students strategies for editing their work and helping them practice identifying and fixing errors. To increase the likelihood that the student will internalize what we're teaching, we focus on a limited number of types of errors per session. Even after hours of hard work, the final product that the student hands in might not be perfect. However, students who visit the Writing Center consistently will improve their writing on the sentence level from semester to semester.
To discuss options for supporting students who need extra help with sentence-level issues, contact Jen Callaghan or Betty Litsinger, Director of Multilingual Writing.
Are my students using the Writing Center?
The best way to find out if your students are visiting the Writing Center is to tell them to ask for a "proof of visit" sticker. The tutor will date and initial the sticker and put it at the top of the student's draft.
You may also email the director to inquire about individual students. Writing Center tutors keep records of their conferences, and if a writer has given permission to share the tutor's report with you, the director will send a copy upon request. If no permission was given, you'll simply receive confirmation that a conference took place.
Is it a good idea to require students to visit the Writing Center?
Students tend to be more engaged during conferences when they come to the Writing Center voluntarily. Announcing in class and on your syllabus that you encourage everyone to use the Writing Center and repeating the recommendation privately to individual students usually persuades them to try it.
If you decide to require a Writing Center visit, please keep the following in mind:
- Before requiring all of your students to visit the Writing Center for a single assignment within a particular time frame, contact the director to see whether we can accommodate your class. Sometimes our schedule is too full to permit it.
- If you require a visit at some point in the semester (i.e., students choose when to go), advise them to schedule carefully. Students who wait until the last two weeks of the semester to make an appointment are unlikely to be able to fulfill the requirement, and we won't make special arrangements for them.
If you award extra credit for Writing Center visits, make it clear to students that to earn credit and receive a "proof of visit" sticker from the tutor, they must stay for the entire hour and actively participate in the conference.