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University Writing Center

Frequently Asked Questions and Services for Faculty

Who works in the UWC?

In addition to the director, the staff is made up of undergraduate tutors who have been recommended by faculty. All new tutors take a three-unit course in tutoring writing concurrent with their first semester of tutoring. While many of the peer tutors are English majors, we are working toward diversifying our staff. We strive to be a writing center serving the needs of the entire CI community. The best way to do that is to hire tutors with a variety of majors.

How much help can the UWC give my students?

UWC tutors can sit down with students and brainstorm for ideas, think through a tentative organization, and be a sounding board for ideas. An early trip to the center may help students avoid becoming too attached to a draft that does not respond fully to an assignment. Later in the process, tutors can look over a draft and comment on places where coherence or clarity suffers. Tutors can also help students become more effective editors of their own papers.

We strive to help students learn to identify grammar and usage issues in their writing without acting as copy editors. This can take more than one or two visits to the center. Some students may benefit from weekly appointments with a tutor to work on their writing. Tutors are taught to be mindful of the University’s definition of academic dishonesty, or "an attempt by a student to show possession of a level of knowledge or skill that he/she does not possess" (CSUCI 2009-2010 Catalog 60).

Should I require my entire class to visit the UWC?

Yes and no.  The answer is "no" because when you send an entire class to the center within a brief window of time, some of your students might not be able to meet with a tutor -- we simply don't have enough staff to see twenty students from one class within the last few days before a paper is due.  Another reason to avoid sending your entire class to the center is, although we appreciate your interest in helping students to become better writers, most of the time it is better that the decision to come to the center be made voluntarily by the student. Reluctant or resentful students do not learn well and take away time that might be given to students who are eager to improve. We hope you will continue to urge, exhort, and recommend that students come to see us.

However, once in a while there is a situation in which a certain student may benefit from the added accountability a visit to the center can provide.  If you decide to require a student to visit the center, know that we can stamp, sign, and date the paper in order to "prove" that the student came to see us.  Keep in mind, though, that if the student is reluctant or disengaged from the session, there is not a lot a peer tutor can do to help the student. 

In a nutshell, please use required visits sparingly.

Are there ways I could encourage students to use UWC services?

Yes! Most important is to tell all of your students that you value clear writing. If you speak to the class as a whole, then recommendations for individual students to visit the center will be a part of a continuing promotion of writing to learn.

Here are some other ways of encouraging students: 

  • Include a statement about the Writing Center in your syllabus. Feel free to copy the following paragraph and paste it into your syllabus or post on Blackboard: 
    • The University Writing Center offers free one-to-one writing help to students at any stage of their writing process. All CI students are welcome to visit the Center Monday through Thursday 9:00am to 7:00pm and Friday 9:00am to 2:00pm or call (805) 437-8934 for an appointment. We are located in the Broome Library, second floor, room 2675. 
  • Request an in-class visit from a UWC tutor. Tutors will make a five-minute presentation introducing the center and leave information with your students. Please fill out our In-Class Tutor Visit form: https://csuci.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4Gi0ndHN05zMQLO to arrange a visit.
  • Request workshops for students on specific topics. Instructor attendance is a must for these sessions - improving student writing is a team effort! 
    • Peer Review Workshop (30 minutes +): We will share some advantages to and strategies for peer review. We will then join the group(s) in order to help the students learn to give one another effective feedback on their writing. 
    • Avoiding Plagiarism Workshop (30 minutes +): We will help students learn to define plagiarism and how the campus responds to it. They will also learn some techniques for detecting it (or questionable citations) in their own work. 
    • Citation Workshop (25 minutes +): This workshop includes some basics on why we cite and then moves into specifics of either MLA or APA citation. (We are happy to develop sessions on other style guides with your assistance). These sessions are best help later in the semester when students are more likely to be working with sources. 
    • Literature Review Workshop (25 minutes +): Many students have trouble transitioning to upper division writing - particularly literature reviews. This workshop helps students understand their purpose and offers organizational strategies that assist students in writing in this new genre. 
  • Depending on demand, a tutor can be assigned to a particular class so he/she can become familiar with the students, the assignments, and perhaps assist in group work. The tutor will attend the class as needed. Our tutors are all undergraduates and cannot conduct lessons or grade papers, but they are available to support collaborative learning. 
  • If you perceive several students need reinforcement of an aspect of writing, you can urge groups of your students to arrange for sessions on special topics. The UWC has space for small group (4 or fewer students) tutorials. 

What if I want to communicate with the tutors working with my students?

Feel free to make specific comments and requests on the Instructor-Tutor dialog form .  Students should present these forms at the beginning of a tutoring session and fill them out with their tutors at the session's end.  Keep in mind that a limited amount of material can be covered in a 30-minute tutoring session.

While students are encouraged to bring along their assignment sheets (or access them on Blackboard), faculty are welcome to send their assignments and/or scoring guides to the UWC director so tutors are familiar with them before the students come in. 

Should I recommend a student who would make an excellent tutor?

Please do. We are committed to serving writers from across the curriculum and welcome student tutors from various majors. All tutors are required to have recommendations from two CI faculty members. If the student takes your advice and applies to work at the center, expect a request for a recommendation -- see the form on Tutor Recommendation Form (MS Word, 39.5KB) 

What happens during a tutoring session? 

Goal of the UWC 

The UWC is part of a long-term learning process. Improvement in writing takes commitment, hard work, and time. We want students to learn to get readers' opinions, to revise frequently, and to proofread their own writing. An appointment at the UWC is a good beginning. 

The Session 

The tutor will begin by asking what the writer wants to work on. Then the tutor will read the draft quickly to get a sense of what the writer is trying to do, and what the problems are. An important factor in setting the agenda for the interaction is the stage of the writing process for the particular assignment - problems relating to the prompt and confusion about organization are more appropriate for early drafts, while sentence-level and concerns such as grammar and punctuation are more important for later drafts. 

Many students come to the center on their own for help, but instructors can also refer students using the Instructor-Tutor dialog form

Students can make appointments by calling or dropping by. When they come in, they should bring along a copy of the assignment and a draft of the paper if they have started one. UWC tutors help with the entire writing process from brainstorming and refining a topic to revising and citing sources. 

UWC tutors have been educated to offer a multi-level response to student papers. Tutors can provide the following kinds of responses: 

  1. A response to the paper as a whole. The tutor will resopnd as a reader and address questions of audience, purpose, and form, including the constraints of the assignment. The tutor will look for things such as lack of focus, unsupported, arguments, and organizational problems. 
  2. A sentence-level negotiation of meaning. When a student is writing about concepts that are new or difficult, their writing may become confusing or even incomprehensible. In these cases, the tutor will point out sentences and ask the writer to help him or her understand the intended meaning and revise the syntax. 
  3. Selective attention to systematic grammatical problems. While an error-free text is something we all want, the UWC does not proofread for students. Rather, tutors evaluate which forms are causing the most trouble and focus on those for the session. We have found this method helps students become better readers of their own writing. Students with multiple grammatical concerns in a paper will require more than one session with a tutor. 

How Many Sessions? 

Students' work is rarely ready to submit for a grade after a single session with a tutor. We encourage repeat visits. Weekly visits with a tutor are also available and encouraged for students with the need for more help with their writing. 

The Stamp 

If you want to know if your students are using our services, consider asking them to have their papers stamped. The stamp includes the date of the visit and the name of the tutor your students saw. Note: all writing on the paper will be done by your student and not the tutors. 

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