Below are some questions instructors often ask about WTS tutoring. For student questions, please see the student FAQ.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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 their presentation to your specific needs or concerns. Contact WTS at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 gotten a chance to see the WTS space 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.
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. They 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 visit our online schedule to arrange tutorials, they can book 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.
Incidentally, course-specific tutors meet monthly during the semester at professional development events, at which point they keep each other informed of the details of the courses for which they are responsible. Therefore, if students are unable to schedule an appointment with the tutor assigned to your specific course, all tutors at WTS will be familiar with your course.
You can contact us via email at email@example.com to request a course-specific tutor.
While we value your trust in WTS, our experience and that of writing centers across the country have demonstrated that requiring students to visit for any reason (including for extra credit) is not a productive approach. Students who see their tutorial as merely related to a grade do not engage the tutorial with much interest, often cut the session short, and tend not to make major revisions to their papers. By contrast, students who visit on their own volition are more likely to learn skills that will help them improve as writers. Moreover, WTS may not be able to accommodate all your students, and so offering extra credit or requiring students to visit often produces inequitable results. We offer around 200 hours of tutoring each week, but in this limited time we must serve students in the thousands of courses offered each semester. For these reasons, we do not support required tutorials or tutorials for extra credit and will not provide proof of student visits. We would, however, be more than happy to talk with you about approaches that are more effective: course-specific tutoring, writing workshops for your students, and arranging for a WTS tutor visit your class.
To ensure that students are prepared and know what to expect during a tutorial, it can be helpful to share the following:
- WTS can help at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to looking over a nearly final draft.
- WTS tutors work with all students: both those who consider themselves very good writers and those who aren’t as confident in their writing skills.
- In addition to course assignments and essays, we also help with other kinds of college writing, including scholarship applications, cover letters, and graduate school statements.
- Tutorials at our main location, in the Wells Library, will last 50 minutes.
- The tutor can make suggestions and talk through ideas, including about specific sentences or word choices, but will prioritize larger concerns like argument and organization, and will not edit or "fix" a student's paper for them.
- The student should plan to bring their draft and some questions or areas they'd like to focus on to help guide the tutorial session.
- It's best to come with a specific assignment, goal, or writing project.
- We have both in-person and online tutorials available.
If you are suggesting that a specific student visit WTS to work on their papers and are offering feedback or directions on aspects of their writing that they need to improve, specific feedback is especially helpful. It's more difficult for a tutor to help a student writer who has only received feedback that their writing needs to be improved without any direction on what your concerns are, or where to focus their time and attention as they begin to address those concerns.
Even if a tutor has not been assigned to your course, your students are welcome to arrange tutorials at WTS. They can use the "limit-to" function on the schedule to select a tutor whose background and disciplinary knowledge are applicable for your course. 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.
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 students' essays, explain such problems to students, and help them learn to recognize and correct these frequent errors. WTS maintains a list of paid editors for students who need further assistance with editing.
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.
Absolutely. However, we ask that students make clear in their online appointment form that they are part of a group tutorial so that we can reserve a table large enough for them 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 their portion of the project.
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 go online and book at least two days in advance for tutorial appointments. During the previously-mentioned "peak" times, it may even be advisable for students to book three to four days in advance to ensure they are able to secure an appointment.
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.