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.
How do I let my professor know I've been to 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."
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.
Do I need to make an appointment?
Appointments are not necessary, but they are highly recommended. We get busy when you get busy, so plan ahead! Make appointments through our online appointment scheduler.
How can I become a tutor?
If you're interested in working as a tutor in the Writing Center, please visit the Becoming a Writing Center Tutor section of this website.