FAQs for Instructors | UNT Writing Center

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FAQs for Instructors

The UNT Writing Center provides support for undergraduate and graduate writers across the disciplines, as well as support for faculty who teach writing and assign writing in their classes. Here are some frequently asked questions from instructors.

How Can I Recommend the Writing Center to my students?

There is no more meaningful advertising for us than a recommendation from you. Here are some ways you can encourage students to visit us.

  • Recommend that your students visit us early in the writing process. Talking with a tutor can help writers understand the assignment, articulate their ideas more clearly, or create an outline. (It's also another great opportunity to remind students that writing IS a process.)
  • Recommend that your students visit us often. Good writers are not created in a single appointment, or in a single assignment. Though everyone is happy to see immediate improvement in a draft, the real improvement for a writer happens over time.
  • Include contact information for the Writing Center in your syllabus. It also helps to include a brief description of what students can expect when they visit, i.e., collaborative talk, not proofreading.

Example:

I recommend that you visit the Writing Center with your assignments for this class. All writers can benefit from sharing and discussing their work with a trained peer tutor, early and often. A tutor can help you get started on a paper or help you decide what to revise on an existing draft. During an appointment with a tutor, you can develop your ideas, organize your thoughts, and clarify your prose. For more information or to make an appointment, visit writingcenter.unt.edu, call 940-565-4665, or stop by Sage Hall 150.

Shorter version:

The Writing Center can help you get started on a paper or help you to decide what to revise on an existing draft. A tutor can help you to develop your ideas, organize your thoughts, and clarify your prose. For more information or to make an appointment, visit writingcenter.unt.edu, call 940-565-4665, or stop by Sage Hall 150.

  • Signal to your students that you are invested in their writing beyond error correction. Telling students to go to the Writing Center to get their drafts "fixed" may give students the impression that writing only involves putting the commas in the right place.
  • Talk about both writing and the Writing Center in ways that suggest that you view writing as inherent to your teaching. When students hear from you that writing is peripheral to your class, or something they need to take care of outside of your class, they may be less likely to prioritize it (even if you say "go to the Writing Center!" every time you meet). Making frequent connections during class discussions to the writing in your particular field or to the writing you've assigned will let your students know that you are invested in their writing.

Can I require that my students to go to the Writing Center?

We don't recommend that you require students to go the Writing Center, either as a requirement or for extra credit, and therefore we do not sign "proof of tutoring" forms and/or provide stamps. There are several reasons for this - we find that students who come under duress get much less out of an appointment. It also puts tutors in the role of writing police instead of a peer, which is not a good fit for effective, facilitative tutoring.

While students may see themselves as writing for you as their primary audience, we want to encourage students to have an active, engaged role when they meet with tutors and to help them see that your expectations for their writing are not arbitrary. Instead of requiring your students to visit, offering activities and assignments that encourage students to think critically about their own writing process will likely be more beneficial.

Will you visit my class and talk about the Writing Center?

We always appreciate the opportunity to come to your class at the beginning of the semester to introduce ourselves and talk about our services with your students. New students in particular may be encouraged to use our services when welcomed by peers. Please contact the Director, Kim Moreland, to arrange a visit.

Will you do a workshop for my class?

We would be happy to co-teach a session in your class, but we ask that you be present and that we plan it together with relevant samples and your references to other parts of the course. We've had good success delivering tailored workshops for both graduate and undergraduate students in collaboration with course instructors. Topics have included writing papers in APA format, writing literature reviews, peer review workshops, creating an outline, and developing thesis statements. Please contact the Director with requests.

My student met with a tutor in the Writing Center, so why does the paper still have grammatical errors?

Tutors are trained to encourage students to work through higher order concerns first - thinking through the purpose of the paper, helping a student develop to ideas and to organize their thoughts. Logically, unless it interferes with basic comprehension, it doesn't make much sense for students to focus on sentence-level errors right away, especially at the stage where entire sentences might be changed or removed.

When a tutoring session does turn to grammar, we tend to start with any issues that confuse meaning. We also tend to prioritize subject and verb agreement over prepositions and articles. The tutor will look for patterns in the paper, explain relevant rules, and help students find and correct their own mistakes. Depending on paper length, the number of appointments, other issues discussed, and the type and number of grammar mistakes, it is quite possible for a student to visit us and still not have an error-free paper.

Please note - it's not that we don't think grammar is important - we do. We know that grammar is not isolated from meaning or rhetoric. But we are focused on helping students to become better writers, not just to produce error-free drafts.

What other support do you offer for instructors?

Whether it involves a brief phone conversation or a collaboration for your classroom, we want to help with the challenges related to teaching writing. Here are some of the topics we might discuss:

  • Designing effective writing assignments
  • Working with multilingual writers
  • Providing feedback on drafts
  • Evaluating student work
  • Creating short, ungraded assignments
  • Using in-class writing activities to advance learning goals
  • Helping students cite and use sources in their papers effectively

Teaching writing is challenging and time-consuming, and yet we do it because we know that it has a profound impact on student learning and development. Writing for students is memorable - it can change the way a student views a topic; it can even permanently change the way a student thinks. We are eager to work with you in the effort to help our students become better writers.

How Can I Contact You?

Sage Hall, 150

WritingCenter@unt.edu

940.565.2563

writingcenter.unt.edu

Director: Kim Moreland, Ph.D.

Kimberly.Moreland@unt.edu

940.565.2563

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