Becoming a Tutor

  • Tutor Job Description

    Tutoring is the primary purpose of the Writing Center. Our mission is to help students become better and more self-sufficient writers.

    Tutoring at the Writing CenterTutors must:

    • Be knowledgeable about writing and skilled in communicating with others.
    • Communicate with directors and fellow tutors about sessions, providing and receiving constructive feedback.
    • Maintain professional conduct and appearance.
    • Show up to work on time and attend scheduled staff meetings. Work independently and manage shift duties responsibly.
    • Help students from a variety of backgrounds and whose first language is not English.
    • Lead workshop presentations about the Writing Center, APA and MLA, Google Scholar, peer review, and other topics.

    During a tutoring session, tutors are expected to:

    • Use good communication skills and engage students in conversations that help to draw out and express their ideas.
    • Encourage students to write, document sources, and revise for readability.
    • Be professional and friendly.

    How do I apply to become a tutor?

    You may apply to be a tutor by completing this online Tutor Application.

    Do I need to be a grammar expert to be a tutor?

    Tutors work with ideas, organization, development, style, documentation of sources, and grammar. Some familiarity with grammar and style is necessary. Tutors are not proofreaders, however. You are not expected to produce error-free drafts. Tutors are not critics either. You are not accountable for someone else’s grade. You are expected to have control over errors in your own writing, and to be able to spot errors in others' writing and explain how to correct them. While you are a tutor, you are also expected to use your time wisely and learn as much as you can about writing, including grammar, so that you can increase your knowledge about writing and tutoring.

    What would I do as a Writing Center tutor?

    Writing Center tutors meet with students in our conferencing areas and discuss papers on a one-to-one basis. A tutoring session lasts about 40 minutes. Tutors and students read papers aloud, discussing organization, style, and grammar. Tutors don't “fix” students' work, nor do they write on students' papers. Tutors see papers from all subject areas, and so reading students' syllabi or assignment sheets is important. Tutors help writers in many different stages of writing: pre-writing, brainstorming, free-writing, outlining, organizing, revising, and drafting. Tutors assist students with difficulties as small as helping to use a reference book or as large as organizing a research paper. Due to the specialized content and formatting of graduate level writing, graduate students should work with graduate tutors.

    When there is no other work to be done and we are not busy, tutors may do light reading so long as they are ready to begin tutoring when it is their turn. It is important to know when it is your turn and greet the student promptly. Students visit the Writing Center so they can work undisturbed, and so it is important to minimize disruptions, including loud talking and music. 

    Tutors typically work between four and 14 hours per week. Tutors must submit their hours every two weeks by the deadline. 

    Besides tutoring and leading workshops, what else am I expected to do?

    There is a lot of work to be done at the Writing Center! Some of the work is clerical—answering the phone, filing forms, and making signs. What job doesn’t have clerical work?! Spending your time doing these tasks can actually be beneficial; most of our work is done on computers, so tutors are constantly learning computer technology which they may apply to their own assignments or personal projects. Tutors have an excellent opportunity to try new software and to experiment with existing programs. Other duties include creating and revising workshop outlines, writing help sheets, keeping our work surfaces clean, watering the plants, and feeding the cat (but he's stuffed and doesn't eat much).

    What are workshops?

    After you become familiar with tutoring, you will be asked to lead 30 to 45 minute presentations and whole class instruction to student groups who come to the Writing Center with their professors. All tutors conduct workshops; they also update them and create new workshops. Workshop presentations are rehearsed and follow a standard outline, usually based on PowerPoint. In addition, tutors visit classes to make brief presentations about the Writing Center.

    What is it like to work at the Writing Center?

    There is a strong sense of community among staff members at the Writing Center. The Writing Center provides tutors with both academic and social interaction. Both graduate and undergraduate students from all across the university work at the Writing Center, so there is plenty of information exchanged about different academic areas. If you are an excellent student with good work habits, a love of writing, excellent communication skills, and a desire to help others, the Writing Center could be the right place for you.

    How can this work experience add to my studies?

    Working as a tutor improves your writing. It also makes you a better reader of others' writing and improves your ability to think and talk about the ways in which effective writing is guided by the writer's purpose, style, and sense of audience. Tutors also have opportunities for presentations and publications. IUP Writing Center tutors have published articles in local and national newsletters and journals for peer tutoring. They have also participated in the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) and the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA). Graduate students who have worked in the Writing Center have gone on to become writing center directors at other colleges and universities, professors, book authors, journal editors, and officers in the IWCA.

    What’s in it for me?

    Working at the Writing Center is rewarding on many levels. There is obviously the benefit of the paycheck and the ability to do personal work in the lab. But beyond that, working at the Writing Center is an excellent credential for your résumé. It provides the opportunity to learn new technology and to build better communication skills. And most of all, you develop that warm, fuzzy feeling from helping others.

    Who directs the Writing Center?

    Dr. Ben Rafoth is the director of the Writing Center. His office is in 218 Eicher Hall. Dr. Rafoth is a member of the English Department faculty, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Composition and TESOL program, including Research Methods, Theories of Literacy, Theories of Composition, and Teaching Writing.