What is the Writing Center?
The Writing Center is a tutorial service that assists Notre Dame students in all phases of the writing process, including finding an argument, organizing evidence, improving style, and developing good editing skills.
What happens during a Writing Center appointment?
Writing Center tutors work to engage in authentic dialogue with student writers, meeting them wherever they happen to be in the writing process to provide thoughtful feedback about their writing projects. When a student writer comes into the Writing Center, the tutor greets the writer and starts a conversation about the assignment, working to identify the writer's concerns and needs before examining any notes or draft material brought to the session. The tutor and the writer decide on a game plan for the session, setting goals about what might reasonably be addressed during the 45-minute session and establishing a plan for how to accomplish those goals. If the writer has brought a draft, the tutor will ask him/her to read the draft aloud while both the tutor and the writer make notes. The tutor will seek to identify both strengths and weaknesses in the draft. The conversation that follows the reading of the draft is guided by the tutor, who asks questions to help the writer identify for him- or herself the most pressing needs for revision. As the conversation progresses, the tutor helps the writer to discover strategies for revision that will help address the writer's concerns and needs. At the end of the session, the tutor will help the student identify a concrete set of steps to take next in the revision process. After the writer leaves, the tutor will write a Tutor Note, a brief report recording what was addressed and accomplished during the session.
Who uses the Writing Center?
We work with all students, first years to seniors, undergraduates and graduates, and native and non-native English speakers. We see students from virtually all disciplines and colleges within the University.
We also work with Fulbright and Rhodes Scholar candidates, law and medical school applicants, students writing senior theses, and scholars preparing articles for publication. In short, we serve both inexperienced and experienced student writers, offering an audience for and response to their written work.
Who are the tutors?
Tutors are undergraduate and graduate students from a range of disciplines and colleges at the University. Tutors are hired on the basis of faculty recommendations, writing samples, and personal interviews. They receive extensive training before they begin tutoring, and their training continues throughout the semester. Most tutors, once hired, stay with us throughout their time at Notre Dame and, so, become highly experienced at working with student writers. They are paid for their work.
How can I use the Writing Center in my classes?
Notre Dame faculty use the Writing Center in different ways. You can:
- Recommend that an individual student visit with us. Many students make their initial visit to the Writing Center on the basis of a professor's recommendation. Typically, students return after the initial visit for one or more follow-up visits.
- Make a Writing Center visit part of your syllabus. Many instructors require that students make at least one visit to the Writing Center as part of their course work. This introduces students to the Writing Center, if they have not visited already, and gives them an opportunity to discuss their written work before they submit it to you.
- Request a Tutor Talk. Tutors are available to visit your classes to deliver a 10-minute Tutor Talk about how the Writing Center can help your students with their writing. Tutors also distribute free Writing Center bookmarks with contact and scheduling information. To schedule a Tutor Talk, send the following information to the Writing Center at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- the name of the course
- the number of students enrolled
- 2–3 possible preferred dates for the visit
- the class meeting time
- the class meeting location
How do I know whether my students are using the Writing Center?
After each student visit, the tutor writes a brief account of the session, offering a description of the session, not an evaluation. If students or faculty request, we will send these reports to faculty. It is generally a good idea to let professors know you're putting in this extra effort.
The excerpted account below is a recent Tutor Note.
"I started the session by asking Mary to sum up her assignment for me, just to make sure she understood what she was being asked to do. Then I had her explain her 'vision' for the paper orally, citing the evidence she was thinking of discussing. I repeatedly asked her questions like, 'Why is this important?' and 'What larger theme does this illustrate?' These questions pushed Mary to make a statement about the main idea of the paper. She then wrote this in the form of a thesis statement, and I encouraged her to use topic sentences related to the thesis when constructing her paper. I explained that topic sentences relate the 'claim' of each paragraph to the larger thesis. Mary plans to write a draft of the paper and may return to the writing center after completing a draft."
Do students need to make an appointment?
Appointments are not necessary, but they are highly recommended. We get busy when students get busy, so students should plan ahead to ensure that they get into the Writing Center when it will be most useful to them. Appointments can be made through our online appointment scheduler.
How do I go about nominating one of my students to become a Writing Center tutor?
To nominate a student to become a Writing Center tutor, simply send a brief recommendation note to Matthew Capdevielle (email@example.com or 205 Coleman-Morse), in which you describe the student's potential to succeed as a tutor based on writing ability, intellectual curiosity, and peer interaction.
While we will accept your nomination at any time, we typically only hire mid spring semester for tutors who will begin work the following fall. We welcome nominations for undergraduate and graduate students at any stage in their studies.
For more information about the tutor selection process, please visit the Becoming a Writing Center Tutor section of this website.
Where can I get more information about the Writing Center?
If, after browsing this website, you still have questions about what the Writing Center can do for you and your students, please don't hesitate to contact the director, Matthew Capdevielle, for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org or 631-3844). There is, of course, no substitute for actually experiencing the Writing Center first-hand. For the best introduction to our services, schedule an appointment with one of our tutors today! You are also welcome to observe a session in the Writing Center.