Doyle Online Writing Lab

Introducing Students to the Writing Center

We hope that you'll remind your students that all writers, including good ones, can benefit from talking about their writing with Writing Center tutors. If you or your students want to learn more about what the Writing Center is and what we do, check out our frequently asked questions page.

Tips for Encouraging Students to Use the Writing Center

Don't expect students to come in on their own. A few will. Most won't. Most often, students who don't use the lab say they're too busy or they don't need help with their writing. However, all writers, especially good ones, can benefit from talking with someone and from getting individual feedback on their papers and answers to their particular questions. Most students who seek tutoring at the writing center repots that seeing a tutor raises the quality of their work and that they feel more confident about their writing after talking with a tutor.

Students respond differently depending on how the writing center is introduced in class. The manner in which you recommend that students go to the lab as well as your description of the lab will strongly influence their decision to follow up on your recommendation or referral. If the teacher merely mentions once in passing that the Writing Center is available, most students will treat the suggestion with casual indifference, assuming that the teacher sees no great benefit in getting tutorial help. If you mention the lab at least several times during the semester and emphasize how helpful it can be for writers to talk with tutors while they are drafting a paper, students are much more likely to take notice. Including information about the writing center on your syllabus and assignment sheets can also be helpful in this regard. You can even integrate visits to the writing center into paper assignments by requiring students to have a tutor read a draft and offer feedback. If you wish, we can also send a tutor to your class to talk about the lab and answer questions.

Don't make visiting the writing center seem like a punitive measure. Tutoring can be useful for writers of all ability levels, and if students believe that the writing center is only for bad writers or only provides remedial help, they are likely to conclude that they don't need to attend.

Referring individual students can also be a fruitful practice - if you believe that a student's writing could benefit from some time spent with a tutor, mention it to them during a paper conference. Individualized referrals are more likely to motivate students to visit the center than broad proclaimations of its usefulness. Be clear about what you want the student to work on with a tutor - if you notice particular ways in which their writing could be strengthened, let them know. Students who wander in without knowing in any specific way what they should be working on generally have an unproductive session with a tutor. Accomplishing little or nothing is not an incentive to return.

[Document adapted from the Purdue OWL)