Here are a few questions we have answered based on feedback to see how you can best utilize us in your teaching pedagogy. We are here to help you and your students during all stages of writing.
What can the Writing Center do for me? For my students?
Writing Assistants offer one on one opportunities for your students to collaborate with academically experienced personnel. We offer collaborative opportunities for increasing student success through committees, asking for constructive feedback, providing customized tours, and workshops for your course on request. Writing Assistants can offer feedback as well regarding overall student successes and challenges in writing. The Writing Center works to support your completion and retention efforts while maintaining the academic rigor of your courses.
Writing Assistants-Who are they?
Writing Assistants first and primary goal is to work with your students to become better writers. The Writing Center offers a free unlimited walk-in service to any CSN student enrolled in any class/discipline. Other forms of writing, such as Resumes, Newsletters, and Business letters are also covered. Assistance provided to students ranges from choosing a topic to editing a final draft.
Factors - What factors can affect the outcome of a session?
Some students come to the Writing Center several times to brainstorm topics, develop outlines, thesis statements, and revise rough drafts. Writing Assistants on average spend 20 to 30 minutes with a student, however, students may return multiple times and at different stages. Assistants may recommend students to return for another session for several reasons, such as if they believe the assignment or writing prompt was not addressed or if the work is incomplete. Other students procrastinate and visit the Center only 20 minutes before the assignment is due. Therefore, time and dedication of the students are two of many factors that influence the outcome of a student's session with a Writing Assistant. Language barriers, English comprehension, and computer assistance may also influence how much time is devoted to essay structure, rather than citation format and grammar.
Grades - Can the Writing Center improve the student's grade for an assignment?
The staff at the Writing Center does not tell a student what grade he or she could receive on a given assignment. Our Center is an academic support service, so our goal is to help students develop an effective process for writing academic assignments throughout college. Our suggestions may help a student do well on one assignment, but the purpose of our assistance is broader than just one paper.
Errors - Does the Writing Center proofread for all types of errors?
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a session between a student and a Writing Assistant. The Writing Center always addresses bigger picture concerns, such as following instructions, having a clear thesis statement, or overall essay organization as priorities. Also, the amount of time the student can commit to doing more work on the assignment can impact the number of errors that can be addressed. In addition, it is vital that the student learn to self-edit, so the Writing Assistant may instruct the student to identify and correct certain errors by him/herself.
Perfection - Does the Writing Center make the student's paper perfect?
The main objective of our services is not to ‘perfect’ the student’s assignment. The Center focuses on strategies and information that will help the student develop his/her own writing process in general and not just on one assignment. However, a student may take the initiative to visit the Writing Center more than once for a paper and when that happens, that paper can become quite polished. If you have concerns regarding the quality of your student's writing after visiting the Writing Center, please contact us.
Help! I am not teaching a composition course, but my students need help with writing their essays, research papers, or homework responses. How can the Writing Center help?
The Writing Center can consult with students who are enrolled in ANY class. The subject matter of the essay is important for deciding the tone and style of the writing, but our Writing Assistants are trained to help students write in all subjects. Some of our staff specialize in certain areas including composition, business writing, psychology, philosophy, ESL, and education. As an instructor, we can also speak with you to discuss ways your written assignments (reports, essays, etc.) can be constructed to aid in student success. You can also schedule a time for one of our full-time staff to speak directly to your class or a time to bring your students to the Writing Center for a brief tour. The Writing Center offers a CAPE workshop for faculty and advice for faculty at events including the Academic Success Poster Session in the spring, or the Adjunct Impact Conference in August.
Sometimes international students turn in papers that are difficult to read. I’m not sure that they understand my instructions and there are so many grammar errors. What should I do?
The expectation that every student – including non-native English speakers - be able to complete a well-constructed and grammatical essay in college is a customary and evident outcome of higher education. First, encourage all of your students to avail themselves of the free services at CSN including Tutorial Services, the Writing Center, and ESL Tutors in the International Languages Lab. Second, it is advisable to have students submit outlines or rough drafts of assignments, so they can receive your feedback with enough time to make changes before the due date. Finally, the National College Teachers of English (NCTE) recommends that when grading, it is important to acknowledge that non-native speakers can have the academic content knowledge, but may not be able to demonstrate that knowledge as clearly in writing due to language barriers. NCTE also advises using multiple assessments of content knowledge and recognizing that small errors (with articles or prepositions, for example) which do not obstruct meaning can be inconsequential.
How can I become involved?
- Join the Writing Center Advisory Committee and speak at our staff orientations and meetings about your discipline's requirements.
- Provide input and assist in the creation of training modules to help staff become more knowledgeable in discipline content.
- Bring us writing resources/examples specific to YOUR discipline, including assignment models, discipline conventions, standards, and department outcomes.
- Collaborate with the Writing Center to embed service into your course curriculum
- Schedule a facility tour, class visit, and/or workshop for class
Students use an academic resource like the Writing Center or Tutorial Services most effectively if:
- It is introduced when it is needed
- It is for a specific reason
- Hear a positive message about WHY to use the Writing Center (i.e., receive feedback about your work, meet with an expert for ideas)
- Bring printed instructions for the assignment, including grading criteria
- Bring printed drafts/notes for the Assistant to review
- Come to the Center early in the process of writing the paper
- Know what to expect from the Writing Center