Writing Center Frequently Asked Questions

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Question 1:  Why do I have to log in and out of the Writing Center?

Knowing how many students visit us, why they visit, how long they stay and whether they schedule appointments in advance assists us in meeting our writers’ needs. This information allows us to plan scheduling, obtain texts, prepare handouts, anticipate assignments and measure our effectiveness. Even if the writing project is not a class assignment, the information you provide helps us grow and develop.

Question 2:  If I just need to look up something in the APA style book or pick up a handout, do I still have to log in and out?

Yes. We prefer that you log in and out even if you don’t meet with a tutor so that we can have an accurate picture of how students are using the Writing Center.

Question 3:  Why do you need so much information about me and my assignment?

The Writing Center uses the Tutoring Session Notes (TSN) form to record tutoring sessions. The form requests basic information about things like your course, instructor and assignment due date. The information we collect allows us to improve our services. We are better prepared if we have records that let us anticipate the types of assignments we’re likely to see. Knowing which classes students need help with gives us the opportunity to have materials ready before the tutoring session. Reviewing our history of past sessions on similar assignments allows us to see which tutoring strategies work best and gives us an idea what common issues are likely to arise for this assignment. This record is primarily for you, your tutor and Writing Center employees. We won’t share your TSN with your professor or others without your permission.

Question 4:  What is the Tutoring Session Notes (TSN) form for?

The TSN is a form the Writing Center uses to record individual tutoring sessions. This form has three parts: a white copy for the writer, a yellow copy that is kept by the Writing Center, and a pink copy given to instructors with your permission. The form records information about the writer, assignment and type of tutoring session with space for the tutor’s notes. These notes may be used to list revision tips, refer to other resources, ask guiding questions or provide examples.

Question 5:  What is a tutoring session like?

When you come into the Writing Center, whether you have an appointment or not, you’ll first log in on the dedicated TutorTrac computer. Your tutor may start by introducing herself and asking about your assignment. We want to know as much as we can about the assignment and your particular concerns before we get started so that we can read with those in mind. We need your input on what you hope to get from the session. 

You may fill out the top portion of the Tutoring Session Notes (TSN) form before you begin discussing the paper with your tutor. As you work with the tutor, she will make notes on the TSN. These serve as guidelines for the conversation and reminders for you as you revise. The tutor may also make notes on your draft with your permission. Tutors generally try to address issues affecting the whole paper first — such as organization, evidence and clarity — before moving on to sentence-level concerns like punctuation. Handouts providing more information may be given for you to take with you.

As the session draws to an end, your tutor may ask if there are other questions you have. The tutor will ask you to sign the TSN. This just acknowledges that you received the form. A copy of the TSN will be provided to you. To close out the session, you’ll log out on the TutorTrac computer. 

Question 6:  Can I visit even if I’m not working on an assignment?

Yes. All writers need readers, so we welcome you to bring us any project you’d like. Your tutoring session will have the same structure described above.

Question 7:  Do I have to have a finished paper to have a tutoring session?

No. Tutors can help at all stages of the writing process, even if you don’t know where to begin. A tutoring session can assist in narrowing down a topic, understanding the assignment and brainstorming areas of research. Questions, notes and partial drafts are all useful materials to bring to a tutoring session.

Question 8:  Will you proofread my paper?

That depends on what you mean by “proofread.” If you mean dropping off your paper while you go get a latte, then returning an hour or so later to pick up a paper with all of the grammatical errors “fixed” or even marked; no, the Writing Center does not do that. Tutors will go over the paper with you, pointing out some of the errors and advising you how to correct them, but our focus is more on teaching you how to recognize and correct these errors yourself. There are a couple of reasons why we approach it this way. First, correcting all the errors for a writer doesn’t help the writer improve, it only makes him dependent on an editor to shape his writing. Our mission is to make better writers, not just better papers. Second, all papers brought to the Writing Center are the sole responsibility of the writer. We cannot write, grade or edit papers. The Writing Center has numerous proofreading resources that can help you improve this valuable skill.

Question 9:  Can you tell me what grade I should get on a paper?

No. Writing Center tutors cannot grade papers, dispute grades or even speculate on what grade a paper should receive.

Question 10:  Will you tell my instructor that I came here?

Not without your permission. The Tutoring Session Notes (TSN) that serves as a record of your consultation stays in the Writing Center unless you request a copy for your instructor.

Question 11:  How can I prove I came to the Writing Center?

At the end of your tutoring session, you will be given a copy of your Tutoring Session Notes (TSN). This can be used as proof of your visit should you need it. If further copies of the TSN or other proof is needed, please ask your tutor during your session. You must give us permission to share your session information with third parties.

Question 12:  What if I don’t like my tutor’s advice?

Writers are not required to follow a tutor’s suggestions. The writer has final responsibility for the paper. You are free to choose to disregard any advice you receive.

If you find your tutoring session straying too far from your concerns, please speak to your tutor at that time to redirect the conversation. A tutoring session is for your benefit. Tutors need to know if you’re finding the session helpful or not, so please give feedback during the session.