Writing Center Tutoring Services

The Writing Center offers three types of tutoring services: individual tutoring appointments, small-group writing workshops, and designated tutoring for specific courses. Tutoring appointments are offered Monday-Friday (in the Writing Center) and on Sundays (in Gordon Library). Workshops focus on special topics in writing, document design, or oral presentation. Students learn new strategies, practice, and receive feedback. Workshop topics and schedules are announced each term.  Designated tutors are assigned to specific courses or project groups for the whole term. All tutoring is in English, except those sessions marked specifically as SPANISH. In those sessions, a Spanish speaking tutor will offer practice in Spanish conversation or help with writing assignments from Spanish courses. 

Tutoring Appointments

Our trained writing tutors are available to help WPI students with their writing six days a week in one-hour appointments. Any WPI student--undergraduate or graduate--may sign up for help with projects, course papers, oral presentations, document design, or personal writing. Please visit the Tutoring & Workshop Registration page to make an appointment.

What type of projects do writers and tutors work on at the Writing Center?

Tutors help with a variety of communication projects: course papers, oral presentations, WPI qualifying projects, dissertations, application essays, and more. Tutors work with undergraduate and graduate writers (individuals or writing groups) at all phases of a project, from planning to final revision.

What is the tutor's general approach?

Tutors help writers to think critically about their goals, to consider how an audience might respond to key points and evidence, and to examine the impact of organizational and visual elements of writing. Tutors do not copyedit or "correct" students' papers, although they might teach editing strategies or review rules of grammar or punctuation that writers may then apply to their own writing.

How does a student make a tutoring appointment?

The one-hour tutoring sessions are scheduled by appointment through our website. Click on the Tutoring & Workshop Registration link to the left, and you'll see a list of available appointment times for that week. If you have trouble with the site, give us a call (x6070), and we'll help you sign up.

Once you select a time, you will be asked to fill in your contact information and a brief description of the type of project you are working on and the type of help you need. You'll receive an email confirmation of your appointment shortly after submitting this information. If you need to cancel or reschedule, please call or email the Writing Center as soon as possible.

How should I prepare for a tutoring session?

We recommend making your appointment early in the writing process. This will ensure that you get an appointment (our hours fill up fast) and that you will have time to revise and make a return visit if you need additional help before the paper is due. Walk-in tutoring is only available on a limited basis since the tutor may have another appointment scheduled. So plan ahead. Bring a copy of the assignment to your appointment, and be prepared to discuss the purpose and audience for your project. Also be prepared to describe the type of help you think you need. Bring a copy of your draft, outline, or slides, and take along any notes or related source materials you have been using. If you want feedback on an oral presentation, please give us a call (x6070) so that we may reserve a presentation room and set up a video camera ahead of time.

What will happen in the session itself?

That depends on the type of project, but typically, tutors will begin by asking for some background information on the project and for some direction in the type of help you need. If your project is an oral presentation, the tutor will ask you to rehearse it. She may even record it so that you may review it together. If you are beginning a writing project and are in the pre-draft stage, the tutor will ask you questions to stimulate your thinking about the topic and the types of stylistic choices you might consider. She may suggest ways to outline, map out, or diagram your ideas. If you are working on a prepared draft, the tutor will read it (or the relevant section/s) aloud or have you read it aloud so that she might get a sense of the whole and make some notes for discussion.

Tutors will try to summarize the main points you seem to be making, to make sure they understand the logic of your paper or presentation. If the tutor has trouble teasing out these points, it may signal a problem with clarity. Use the tutor's "misreadings" as cues for rewriting, reorganizing, and clarifying. The tutor may also ask questions, signaling a conflict or noting a place where you might need to add more detail or explanation.

In early drafts, tutors respond to content and its impact on them as readers; in later drafts, they might note patterns of error-- grammatical issues or punctuation errors, for example. In this case, the tutor will review the appropriate rules and conventions with you and test your understanding by having you apply them yourself.

Group Workshops

The Writing Center offers one-hour workshops on special topics related to writing and oral presentation. Past topics include Paraphrasing and Quoting Source Materials, Eliminating Wordiness, Writing Literature Reviews, Designing Effective Slides, MQP Presentation Critique, and others. An experienced tutor reviews the conventions, offers examples and tips, and then provides practice exercises and feedback to participants.  Registration is limited to six, so sign up for these workshops early. We encourage you to bring a small sample of your own writing or your presentation plan so that you may use them to practice. Currently, most group workshops are scheduled on Monday evenings.

Designated Tutoring

In our Designated Tutoring program, experienced writing tutors are assigned to work with students in a specific course. Designated tutors become familiar with course goals, assignments, and the specific needs of the students with whom they work, allowing for sustained and focused tutoring over the term. They sometimes design writing workshops specifically for the course. Due to the high demand for designated tutors, we ask instructors to request this service a term ahead of time. Designated tutors are available on a limited basis, and requests are filled in the order in which we receive them. Please contact Lorraine Higgins (ldh@wpi.edu) for further information, or print and submit the Tutor Request Form (7KB PDF file).

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Last modified: August 25, 2009 17:19:12