The University of Pittsburgh Writing Center provides free one-on-one help with writing for students, faculty, and staff. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions by faculty.
- If the Writing Center doesn't correct papers, what happens in a tutorial?
- When is it appropriate to recommend students to the Writing Center—before or after they've written a paper?
- How does the Writing Center work with students who need help with grammar and punctuation?
- How can I find out if a student has been to the Writing Center?
- What happens when students go to the Writing Center and their writing doesn't improve?
- Is it possible to send an entire class to the Writing Center?
- How do students arrange to see a consultant?
- How can I arrange for my students to learn more about the Writing Center?
- What about graduate students who need help?
- Can the Writing Center help faculty?
- Can you direct me to other resources on the teaching of writing?
- How do I reach the Writing Center or its administrators?
If the Writing Center doesn't correct papers, what happens in a tutorial?
Our goal is to support writers at all levels, to help them become aware of their writing process and to take responsibility for it. A typical tutorial might consist of a brief conversation about how the paper was written; the consultant will ask the student what she wants to focus on in the tutorial. We encourage students to shape the direction of the tutorial through our questions. Sometimes we ask students to read their work out loud; other times, a consultant will model editing and proofreading strategies that the student can try on her own later in the paper. This means we often do not get through an entire paper in a session but expect the students to complete the work on their own, using what they learned in their session.
When is it appropriate to recommend students to the Writing Center—before or after they've written a paper?
Students can come to the Writing Center at all stages of the writing process from brainstorming to drafting to revising to editing and proofreading. They can bring their assignments before they start writing, or they can bring part of a paper they are already working on.
How does the Writing Center work with students who need help with grammar and punctuation?
The Writing Center teaches students strategies for working with error in their own writing. We generally don't use drills; instead we help students learn to identify their patterns of error and correct them on their own. We direct students to handbooks, style books, online writing labs, and other resources that they can access when they're writing their papers.
How can I find out if a student has been to the Writing Center?
The best way is to ask students and have them explain what they worked on. Tell your students to note the name of the consultant they met with, so that you can call the consultant if you have a question.
What happens when students go to the Writing Center and their writing doesn't improve?
Writers develop their habits—good and bad—over a period of time. Any change in writing requires practice; the more students write, the more changes you'll see in their writing. Because we don't correct or proofread student papers, their papers may still have errors. Some students might need multiple appointments over the course of a semester. The degree of improvement depends on students' individual needs and the time they're able to put into their writing.
Is it possible to send an entire class to the Writing Center?
It is more effective and efficient to send individual students to the Writing Center rather than issue a requirement for an entire class. Good tutorials rely on student input; students who don't want to be here or don't see the need to be here take up time that might otherwise be spent on students who would benefit from our services. If you'd like to send a whole class here, you can suggest that every student come to the Writing Center to work on a paper of their choice at any time during the semester.
How do students arrange to see a consultant?
Students can make an appointment online. During the fall and spring terms, students may also visit our Hillman Library site by choosing that schedule in our scheduler.
How can I arrange for my students to learn more about the Writing Center?
By contacting Beth Newborg, Outreach Coordinator, you can arrange to bring your class to the Writing Center for a brief orientation or to have a consultant to come to one of your class sessions. You can e-mail Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 412-624-6556.
What about graduate students who need help?
Graduate students can use the Writing Center and are subject to the same rules and policies as undergraduates. It's important to remind graduate students that the time available to them is limited and that we are a teaching service: our goal is to help writers, not to correct individual pieces of writing. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for proofreading or editing long documents like theses and dissertations.
Can the Writing Center help faculty?
We can meet one-on-one with teachers to help them think about how to address writing in their classrooms. We can also work with them on writing assignments or help them talk through approaches for working with students who have writing issues.
Can you direct me to other resources on the teaching of writing?
Pitt's Writing in the Disciplines site offers useful information for faculty, including news about upcoming workshops, a detailed bibliography, sample writing assignments, the requirements for W-courses, and suggestions for responding to student writing.