Below are some questions instructors often ask about WTS tutoring. For student questions, please see the student FAQ.
Frequently asked questions
- What can WTS do for my students?
WTS tutors can work one-on-one with your students on any writing assignment, at any stage of the writing process: brainstorming, outlining, drafting, or revising.
- What kinds of tutors are available at WTS?
Our tutors are divided into three groups:
- Composition tutors. These tutors work with students from Elementary Composition courses, and other courses that fulfill the University’s first-year writing course requirement: English L141–142; Comparative Literature C145–146; or Afro-American Studies A141–142.
- Discipline-specific tutors. These tutors come from a variety of departments in the University and work with students from courses in designated disciplinary areas: humanities, social and natural sciences, SPEA and Business, Journalism, and others.
- Course-specific tutors. These tutors are assigned on an individual basis to a specific course at the faculty member's request. These tutors will be more familiar with the particulars of the course, assignments, and instructor’s expectations than discipline-specific tutors. They are not, of course, AIs for the courses they’re assigned to, and cannot re-teach the content of the class.
- What goes on in a typical tutorial?
The first question a tutor generally asks a student is “What would you like to work on today?” That is, the tutor asks the student to focus the tutorial. Using whatever materials the student has brought—assignment sheet, draft, outline, notes—the tutor addresses the student’s concerns. Tutors usually work in the interrogative mode: Their job is to lead students to be better readers and critics of their own prose. They ask students questions that will lead them to clarify their ideas, paragraphs, and sentences.
- How can I best inform my students about WTS?
We have several means by which we can advertise the services WTS provides:
A tutor can visit your class. In a 5–10 minute presentation, the tutor will explain the who, what, where, when, and how of WTS, and distribute bookmarks that provide pertinent information about making an appointment. With advance notice, the tutor can tailor his or her presentation to your specific needs or concerns. Contact WTS at (812) 855-6738 to set up a class visit.
- Feature WTS services in your course syllabus. Consider including our standard WTS syllabus blurb.
- You can arrange a "field trip" for your students, so that they can see WTS and learn about its services on the spot. In a field trip, your students visit WTS, hear a 5–10 minute presentation about our services, and receive bookmarks. We have found that students who have taken a field trip to WTS are more likely to make appointments for tutorials than students who have not visited WTS.
- You can pick up a set of informational bookmarks to distribute to your class (or request that they be sent to you). We have found, however, that having a WTS staffer address your class—either in the classroom or at WTS—is a particularly effective way to encourage your students to take advantage of the services WTS has to offer.
- What is course-specific tutoring?
Course-specific tutoring is a service provided by WTS to faculty who use writing in particular courses. At your request, we will assign a tutor from WTS to your course. This tutor, a graduate student who is (whenever possible) very familiar with your discipline or an allied discipline, will meet with you to learn about your course. He or she will collect copies of your syllabus, writing assignments, grading criteria, and any other handouts that you think might be helpful. The tutor will also learn about your course's goals, the aims of your writing assignments, and your expectations and concerns regarding your students' writing. The tutor can also visit your class to inform your students about WTS and to hand out bookmarks. Then when your students call WTS to arrange tutorials, if at all possible they'll be given appointments with the tutor assigned to your course. Armed with information about your course and assignments, the course-specific tutor can be especially effective in helping your students.
Course-specific tutors, incidentally, work in groups within allied disciplines, and keep each other informed of the details of the courses for which they are responsible. If a student calls for an appointment and cannot be scheduled with the tutor assigned to a specific course, he or she is scheduled (if at all possible) with a tutor from the same working group.
- How can I arrange for a tutor to be assigned to my course?
- Can I require a student in my course to have tutorials on his or her paper(s)?
On an individual basis, requiring a student to get tutorial help can be an effective way of improving the student’s performance in your course. We suggest, however, that you discuss this possibility with the student before so directing them.
- Can I require ALL the students in my course to have tutorials on their papers?
You can, but we discourage requiring ALL students to make WTS appointments for two reasons:
- WTS may not be able to accommodate all your students within a short period of time if yours is a large course of over 25 students. We offer 200 hours of tutoring each week, but in this limited time we must serve students in the thousands of courses offered each semester.
- We have found that blanket requirements for tutorials are not effective; students who see their tutorial as merely another hurdle in the obstacle course of passing a course do not engage the tutorial with much interest, often cut the session short, and resist making major revisions to their papers.
- I don’t have a tutor assigned to my course. Can my students arrange tutorials at WTS anyway? What kind of help will they receive in this situation?
Even if a tutor has not been assigned to your course, your students are welcome to arrange tutorials at WTS. They'll be given appointments with tutors whose background and disciplinary knowledge are as close to the discipline of your course as possible. At the beginning of these tutorials, the tutor will take a few minutes to talk with your student about your course and assignments, and will continue to draw on the student's knowledge during the tutorial. Otherwise, the tutorial will proceed along lines similar to those of any other tutorial.
- Will WTS tutors proofread my students' papers?
No. That is, a WTS tutor will not go through an essay to mark and correct sentence-level mistakes. However, we are happy to point out frequently made mistakes in a student's essay, explain such problems to the student, and help him or her learn to recognize and correct these frequent errors.
- If my students visit WTS, how can I be sure that their papers represent their own work and not that of the tutors?
WTS philosophy and policy require tutors to avoid directing students' ideas or words; students are expected to take responsibility for the issues discussed during the tutorial as well as for any revisions to the paper.
- My students are working on group projects. Can they arrange for group tutorials?
Absolutely. However, we ask that students make an appointment for a group tutorial to guarantee that a table large enough for them is reserved at WTS. In addition, we request that all members of the group be present at the tutorial, so that the tutor can talk with each student author about his or her portion of the project.
- Some of my students said that they were unable to schedule tutorials at WTS. What happened?
WTS has about 200 hours of tutoring available each week. We usually book appointments for almost every hour each week. And, at certain times of the semester—just before mid-term, or at the end of the semester, for instance—we receive far more requests for tutorials than we can accommodate. For these reasons, it is important that students call as far in advance as possible for a tutorial appointment. We recommend that they call at least two days in advance, or even three or four days during "peak" times.
- I don’t want WTS tutors to work on the content of my students’ papers. Rather, I want their tutorials to focus on sentence-level problems of grammar and standard usage. Is this a possibility?
Absolutely. While WTS tutors will not proofread students' papers—that is, they will not go through essays to mark and correct grammatical mistakes—they will explain such problems to students and help them learn to recognize and correct these frequent errors in their own writing. You will want to make the distinction between content and sentence-level issues clear to your students so that they can inform their tutors about their desired focus for the appointment.
In general, we're happy to tailor our tutoring to meet the specific demands of your course. Requesting a "course-specific" tutor is one way to ensure that WTS tutors steer your students in the right direction. Feel free to contact WTS at (812) 855-6738 to discuss other ways in which we can help your students succeed in their writing assignments for your course. Visit the CITL Writing Program page for more information on Writing Program services for IUB faculty.