Helping Students Use the Writing Center
How do I refer a student to the Writing Center?
A meeting is the best way to encourage a student to visit the Writing Center. Talk with the student about the paper that is prompting the referral so that you both can get a better fix on what the student does or does not know. Sometimes the problem is not ignorance about punctuation (for example), but procrastination that led to hasty work with little to no proofreading. Being specific about what the student and Peer Writing Consultant can work on will make a tutoring session more productive.
While the student is with you, encourage your student to set up an appointment through Moodle (look for the Academic Tutoring link on any Moodle page).
Some professors will incentivize a visit by withholding a grade on a paper until some of its problems are addressed through a writing center visit, and some will offer the opportunity for some make-up credit if the paper improves.
A less effective way to refer a student is to encourage a visit in a final comment of a paper on which the student did poorly. Students often do not read these final comments, especially when the news is bad for them, and so they miss your referral.
How would I know if my student visited the Writing Center?
A Peer Writing Consultant can let you know that your student is actively seeking improvement. Use a short form that allows the tutor to document the session (See a boilerplate referral form, below). You can also contact the director of the Writing Center to verify that a visit occurred, and what the student worked on.
How about assigning all my students to use the Writing Center?
Stronger writers can benefit from a tutorial even more than weaker ones, so consider making a Writing Center visit mandatory for all students at least once during a course that has a lot of writing in it. Contact me to visit about the possibilities.
What can Peer Writing Consultants do for my student?
Our peer writing consultants are recommended for employment by faculty who trust their abilities to write and to work with other students. They receive at least eleven hours of training on conducting tutorials, assessing students’ needs, and working with student writing. They are not there to fix the writing for the students, but to work with the student in ways that help them become better writers. Our peer writing consultants know their limitations too. If they are uncertain about how to help, they will reach out to the director or encourage the student to seek more guidance from you.
What about the student who needs LOTS of help?
It took your students eighteen-plus years to get to the stage they are at. One visit can help them get a little further along, but constant engagement will work better. When you encounter a student whose writing is far below expectations, contact me to arrange regular, dedicated tutorials with one of our peer writing consultants.