The University Writing Center’s Mission is to provide individualized writing instruction (tutoring) to any currently enrolled CSULB student. The UWC takes a contextual and holistic approach to developing successful writing skills in both experienced and beginning writers. With support from tutors at the UWC, CSULB students will hone their writing skills throughout their time at the university and will be able to transfer these skills to writing situations in and out of classroom settings. Tutors at the UWC help students brainstorm, develop, draft, organize, revise, format, and proofread their writing, but UWC tutors do not write or edit papers for students. In incorporating the best practices for these goals, the UWC draws upon the scholarly and pedagogical literature of Writing Center Studies.
The goal of the writing center is to help students become effective and independent writers. To that end, the focus of each tutoring session is individualized instruction that supports this goal, and not just a “fix-it” approach to the particular text at hand. Of course, every session proceeds differently, but generally speaking, each session begins with a greeting and needs assessment, followed by goal-setting, both for the session itself as well as for beyond the session, after which the student and tutor engage in reading (of the assignment/prompt or the student’s notes/draft) and discussion about how to proceed and/or improve the writing. The tutor typically address global concerns (writing strong thesis statements, logical flow of the paper, etc.) first, and then moves on to more local concerns (clarity, coherence, etc.). The tutor may offer strategies or suggestions for revision as well as point out areas of strength that the student can implement or leverage throughout the paper. Then, at the end of the session, the student develops a specific plan of action for what he/she/they will do moving forward.
Tutors in the UWC do not do any of the following:
- Rewrite a student’s paper
- Edit a student’s paper
- Write extensive comments or corrections on a student’s paper
- Voice an evaluation of the student’s work or predict what sort of grade it might receive
Many students who view themselves as “poor writers” or who receive below-average grades in their writing-intensive courses, assume that “Grammar” is the culprit, so they may come to the writing center looking for “help with grammar.” Our goal is to help them with grammar, but we take an instructional approach to their professed “problem with grammar,” rather than a “fix-it” one that is often more about the decontextualized text itself rather than about the writer. To that end, tutors teach students relevant grammatical concepts and show them how some grammatical misconceptions can result in grammatical errors and how those errors can be resolved once the students understand the concepts.
We would appreciate your help in spreading the word about the UWC to your students. We are happy to have one of our tutors visit your classroom and share, first hand, the kind of work we do here in the writing center. The following are some guidelines for referring students to the UWC:
- Provide students with a flyer or bookmark that shows them where the UWC is located and how to make an appointment
- Advise students to bring their assignment instructions or prompt as well as any notes or drafts that they have to each session
- Help them set reasonable expectations for what they can accomplish during the session. They are unlikely to leave one 45-minute session with a “perfect” paper.