Writing Center peer tutors help students become more confident and
effective writers. They do this through one-to-one dialogue, asking questions
that good writers ask themselves as
they draft and revise:
are typical of the ones tutors discuss with students.
Sometimes students who have never worked
with a tutor might think precious time is wasted by the questions tutors ask: If
I knew the answers to these questions, I wouldn’t be here—please, just fix my
What all writers eventually learn, however, is that questions
from a thoughtful and caring reader do more to help writers express ideas
clearly than a pen that spills red ink on their papers.
visit the Writing Center, they can expect their tutor will read and respond to
them in a thoughtful and respectful manner, offer constructive advice, and help
them decide the next steps they need to take to complete the assignment.
In general, tutors start with higher-order
concerns like thesis, organization, and use of supporting details. Then they move
to sentence-level concerns like grammar, mechanics, and usage. Tutoring
sessions last 30 to 45 minutes; students usually have more work to do on their
papers before handing them in.
The Writing Center staff is comprised of
paid undergraduate and graduate peer tutors, as well as community volunteers,
including retired professors emeriti. Tutors are selected carefully and receive
regular training and supervision. Their job is to help students become more
independent, self-sufficient writers.
When students say they want someone to
edit or proofread their papers, they may be asking the tutor to find and
correct errors in grammar and punctuation, but often they are more interested
in receiving feedback on the organization and clarity of their ideas. Requests
for proofreading are understandable (even the best writers have editors), but
such requests may be premature for early drafts or when a paper is disorganized
or unclear. Tutors try to help students see that correcting errors will not
benefit a writer whose paper does not meet the assignment, contains a vague or
confusing thesis, or lacks good information.
your students to use us—early and often. A good way to get students to take the
first step is to bring your class here for one of our many workshops.
addition, instructors can encourage students to consult with tutors about specific
aspects of their writing. For example, in your assignment sheet or syllabus,
you can build in time for students to visit the Writing Center and suggest what
they might work on when they meet their tutor.
The Writing Center’s main campus location is 218 Eicher Hall. Eicher is located on Grant Street between Wallwork Hall and the smokestacks. Learn more about the Writing Center in Eicher Hall.
The Writing Center’s Library Satellite is located on the first floor of Stapleton Library in the green booths behind the Reference Desk. Learn more about the Writing Center - Library Satellite.
Students can get help with papers online from a Writing Center tutor. Using the Online Writing Center means no downloads, no user account, no special training, and no hassles. Learn more about the Online Writing Center.
To contact the Writing Center, please call 724-357-3029 or email email@example.com.
By Dr. Ben Rafoth, Writing Center Director