FAQs for Faculty

FAQs for Faculty

Below are the most common questions we get from faculty about the Writing Center.

How can the Writing Center help my students? The WC strives to help students become better writers by teaching them how to develop self-editing skills. We don’t “fix” papers, but instead we focus on a combination of grammatical/sentence-level concerns and larger, more global concerns such as development of ideas. For more on this topic, please see the Purdue OWL’s discussion of Higher and Lower Order Concerns.
What is the mission of the Writing Center?
The Writing Center (WC) provides free individual tutorials to undergraduates and graduates working on writing projects for any course; WC tutors are not editors or proofreaders, but they coach and encourage students to achieve independence in the composition and revision of their own work.The ODU Writing Center upholds the International Writing Centers Association’s (IWCA) policy on diversity and will “inclusively serve all students, including members of underrepresented groups such as people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and people with a range of abilities, economic needs, and linguistic expression.”
How can I encourage students to use the Writing Center? Please include information about the Writing Center on your syllabus and call 757.683.4013 at any point in the semester to arrange a Writing Center visit. A tutor will come to your class to explain the WC service to students; the presentation takes only a few minutes of class time. Here is a paragraph that you can copy and paste onto your syllabus:The Old Dominion University Writing Center is open to all currently-enrolled students on campus. Students may seek help with their writing projects for a variety of courses and meet with a tutor to discuss anything from brainstorming to learning how to proofread their own work.The WC offers supplemental instruction to help students improve their writing strategies. Instead of providing a proofreading service, we offer tutoring sessions that assist students in learning to proofread their own work, in getting projects started, and in developing the writing process for a paper.The WC offers 45-minute appointments with our graduate student tutors who work with individual students or groups. Most tutoring sessions are by appointment; drop-in appointments are provided when tutors are not in a scheduled session. For distance students, we use Adobe Connect for online appointments. Call 757.683.4013 for an appointment, see us in person in the Learning Commons in the Library, or log on to tutor.odu.edu to make an appointment.
Can I require all of my students to come to the Writing Center? No. The Writing Center has a limited number of tutors and appointments and serves the entire student population. Both the WC and the students experiencing required appointments face pressures from the practice, as explained below.

  1. the WC may not be able to schedule the required appointment because our appointments are full; this results in a great amount of student anxiety
  2. the students who are required to come in may not feel a need for our services and may occupy an appointment desired by a student who is unable to get on our schedule
  3. we do not have the number of staff to support individual writing instruction for all of the students in a single course; tutors support but cannot replace instruction
  4. students often resent required appointments and do not learn as much as invested students
How will I know if my student came in for an appointment? The WC issues verification emails automatically every Friday for proof of attendance (once the student clears us to do so at the end of an appointment). Students may also request a paper slip. Please note that the Writing Center does not evaluate the student.
What sorts of records does the Writing Center keep regarding appointments? The WC keeps confidential visit notes in an appointment database.
May I see the visit notes to see what happened during an appointment? No. Visit notes are confidential between the Writing Center and the student. In the event that a dispute arises, the WC must first ask students their permission for sharing the records with professors. For legal matters or academic integrity cases, the WC must follow FERPA guidelines and university legal procedures.
Will you tell me if students bring in a midterm or a final exam? Yes. We will not work with students on any exam without written permission from an instructor. We ask instructors to email the Director and state their name, course title, and whether or not permission is for an entire class or for individuals within the class.
Can I require students who are struggling to come in or require it for a grade? No. Please recommend and encourage the student make an appointment, but we caution against involving the Writing Center in a grading issue. The Writing Center services are voluntary and student-centered, and having students see our services as punitive or involved in grade arbitration goes against our mission. The WC also doesn’t have a large enough staff to accommodate private tutoring or teaching assistance for any one student or professor.
Can I suggest that students go to the Writing Center for extra credit? No. The WC discourages the use of its services for extra credit. Giving extra credit for a WC visit might give students incentive to have an appointment, but most will come in just to get the points. Many times students in for extra credit are not interested in working with tutors, and due to high demand for the WC services, students who voluntarily visit may be unable to get in when the WC is filled with students seeking extra credit. In addition, towards the end of the semester, most students seeking extra credit will try to visit and find themselves unable to be seen; this situation frequently results in bargaining and negotiating for a “proof” slip with tutors unable to control the situation.
I have a student who needs help with writing. I’d like to require him/her to receive regular tutoring. May I schedule that for him or her? No. The WC doesn’t have the resources to provide this level of tutoring for any one student or instructor. Students who would like to use the WC frequently will need to follow our appointment rules. In keeping with the WC mission, we would also like to promote our services as applicable for all writers and not as remediation.
Should I include a Writing Center visit as part of a grade? No. Students often cannot get appointments because the WC is full, and required visits conflict with the mission statement of the Writing Center.
What alternatives do I have to requiring students to visit the WC?  SmartThinking: Although online tutorials or feedback cannot replace a WC visit, ODU offers the SmartThinking service as part of Blackboard. It’s under the Tools section. The service is free to all students and is available 24 hours a day. However, the tutors on the site get busy and may need a turn-around time of a few days on a paper during peak times of the semester.A visit from the Writing Center: At any time during the semester, a WC would be happy to come to your classroom and discuss how our services work. Please contact the WC at 757.683.4013 to request a visit.Online Help Documentation: [fill this in once the website is complete]Meet the Director: The Director can help you with pointers for assignments and ways to improve writing in your course.
Will you provide me a list of names of my students who have come in?  No. Because of the high volume of students who come in and pressures on tutors to manage the office and tutoring appointments, we cannot keep lists for individual professors. There are also privacy/FERPA rules.
Who are the writing tutors?  All of the writing tutors in the WC are graduate students from the English department
May I send students to the Writing Center who missed a class session or a writing consultation with me?  No. Writing Center visits cannot replace course-related activities or requirements. Writing Center work supplements and complements course instruction. In addition, the WC cannot accommodate entire class visits without prior arrangements and cannot substitute for a cancelled class.
My students tell me they didn’t get help with citation styles/commas/their theses/organization/development, and their papers still have errors even after they come to the WC. Why does this happen?  Writing Center tutors are not editors or proofreaders. Tutoring appointments involve many skill sets and reviews of writing concerns. For example, an appointment may focus on a thesis, working on an introduction or conclusion, or paragraph development, in addition to formatting. One appointment may not address all of a student’s concerns. Students may not implement all, or any, of the tutor’s suggestions.
 I have students who are learning English. How can the WC help them?  The WC offers assistance to currently enrolled students who are learning English. We have tutors trained in helping English language learners and can assist you with our English help documents. Please note that the WC is unable to offer services to non-academic staff, spouses, students at other universities, or members of the general public.
We use Citation Style X in our discipline. Can my students get help with that?  Yes. Tutors help direct students towards resources for improving citation in particular disciplines, and tutors receive training in a range of citation styles, but Writing Center tutors do not edit or correct citations for each instance. Tutors show students how to find information on the various citation styles.
What happens if a student has a bad experience and wants to report it? Please contact the Director, who will reply to your request.
 May I also get help from the Writing Center for my work or for designing assignments? Yes. Please contact the WC Director if you’d like help designing assignments. For more in-depth assistance, you may be interested in contacting the Instructional Designers at ODU’s Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT).