The PLU Writing Center isn't just for students. We're also here to help out faculty members. Need help with designing a syllabus or just one specific assignment? Drop us a line, and we will be more than happy to assist you. Is your assignment clear and engaging? Our student writing consultants can give you feedback from a student's point of view. Matthew Levy, the director of the Writing Center (and FYEP Faculty Development) is also available to help at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please notice the quicklinks to the right that are full of helpful tips you can use on the fly.
Encouraging Students to Use the Writing Center
There are a couple of things we would like instructors to know about the Writing Center so that you can help students have the right expectations and attitude, which can lead to more successful consulting sessions.
1. While Writing Consultants try to let student clients set the agenda for sessions, as a policy, we do not proofread. We usually follow a process that begins with high order issues: Does the writing meet the assignment? Does it have its own purpose that is communicated with a clear claim or thesis? Is the organization clear and effective? We don't like to work on correcting a sentence before asking whether that sentence belongs in the paper at all. When we move on to issues of surface correctness, we focus on identifying recurring issues and addressing them. So, we might help a student with noun-verb agreement for the bulk of the session, which means that the student may leave the Center with punctuation errors in their paper. Without doing the work for students (which would be an unacceptable act of academic dishonesty), this is unavoidable. The idea is to teach the student, not to create a perfect paper. Consultants should not and could not be responsible for the quality of the work. When students know they are not coming to the Writing Center to have someone else fix everything, they have more productive sessions.
2. Some instructors like to require students to bring their work to the Writing Center. This is a good way to make sure that students get extra instruction and get used to doing peer review as a normal part of the writing process. It can also, though, have the unintended consequence of students entering the Writing Center just wanting a signature for proof and not truly engaging in the process. For this reason, we have these suggestions.
A. If you do require students to make a Writing Center appointment, please have them do this early in the semester--or at least before mid-term. The Center gets very busy at the ends of semesters, so you don't want students unable to schedule a required session. Also, we find that students who come early sometimes come several more times on their own because they have a good experience. That is a good thing.
B. You can create a place on your assignment sheet for a consultant to sign off that the student did follow through and have an appointment. If you choose to do this, we ask that you add a sentence such as the following: "It is your responsibility to actively engage in your Writing Center session. The Writing Center consultant may choose not to sign off on your session if you do not work with them."
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Writing Center. If you have any questions, please email Matthew Levy at email@example.com.