Vision:The Ohio State University at Lima Writing Center offers a friendly and supportive environment for students with a wide variety of writing needs. Not only do we make every effort to encourage and to motivate the students who pass through our doors, we insist on providing them with the highest quality tutoring available, assisting them not only with the written project in hand but also with the general quality of their written work. In addition, we intend to work together with the faculty to become a trusted and reliable campus resource.
Goals: We have three primary goals at the Writing Center:
- To work in a partnership with the faculty to identify and assist those students with the greatest writing needs. Offering these students focused, extended, and personalized tutoring will increase their chances of becoming successful college-level students.
- To assist all of our OSU-Lima students in improving their writing capabilities for their academic classes. Students across the spectrum of writing ability should be encouraged to set up appointments and to benefit from our tutoring services.
- To offer help for students with writing projects not directly related to their academic classes. Students may want assistance in the preparation of materials such as job letters and graduate school applications, and we should make ourselves useful in these endeavors.
Tutors: It is of paramount importance that we identify and train the highest quality tutors available. Student tutors, working side by side with the Writing Center Coordinator, should be selected for their exceptional writing skills, their strong social and communication skills, and their reliable work ethic. To find these students, we should query the faculty for recommendations, making certain that our selections will inspire the confidence of the faculty at large.
Policies: Those of us working in the Writing Center must follow certain policies and practices if we want the service to succeed. This is what we should do:
- We should remember that a tutorial is a collaboration, an opportunity for a tutor and a student to work together to achieve a common goal, so we should engage the student in a dialogue.
- We should make every effort to offer encouragement and support while at the same time not inflating our praise or otherwise leading students to believe that an essay cannot or should not be improved.
- We should be willing to help students with every part of the writing process: brainstorming for ideas, constructing a thesis, clustering and outlining, drafting, revising, and polishing.
- We should encourage students to recognize that they are writing for a public and academic audience, that they must gear their essays toward the academic discipline and class for which the work is being prepared.
- We should recognize that writing grammatically correct sentences is an essential requirement in academic communities, but we should also recognize that there is far more to writing a compelling and effective essay than merely avoiding surface errors.
Those of us working in the Writing Center should make certain to avoid certain behaviors that are antithetical to our goals. This is what we should not do:
- We should not write essays or parts of essays for students.
- We should not provide a "proofreading" service. If a student asks to "drop off" an essay and have us proofread and polish it, we should explain politely that our job is to work with students to help them improve their writing, not to do the work for them.
- We should not speculate on grades for any piece of writing or suggest that any given work ought to earn a high or low grade. Instead, we should explain that in academic communities grading is up to the instructor.
- We should never make disparaging remarks about a teacher or an assignment, or in any other way undermine the authority of a faculty member.
- We should never make disparaging remarks about the students we tutor. We should treat all students with respect.
Procedures: At the start of every quarter, every member of the faculty at OSU at Lima should be sent information about the services of the Writing Center. We should explain that faculty members do not have the time to provide sustained and lengthy individual attention for every struggling student, so our job will be to provide that one-on-one help. We should make referral forms available to instructors and pay close attention to their suggestions, making certain that we help students to improve in their deficient areas. Faculty members should be encouraged not to limit their referrals to their weakest students but to send us any student who might benefit from our service.
In addition to providing help for students referred by the faculty, the Writing Center should also encourage students to seek out our help on their own initiative. It is essential, therefore, that we take steps to advertise our services to the student population and to provide the kind of congenial atmosphere and careful assistance that will convince students of the valuable role we can play in their academic careers.
Students should be advised to set up appointments when they visit the Writing Center, and students with appointments will be helped first, but walk-ins should also be encouraged. Tutorials will be scheduled for either thirty or forty-five minutes, though we should recognize that some tutorials will take less time, others more. Before each tutorial begins, students will be asked to sign a permission slip that grants the tutor permission to send a brief report to the instructor for whom the written work is being completed. Tutors should explain to students that these reports will contain a brief description of the tutorial and will serve as evidence to a teacher that a student is diligent, hardworking, and determined to succeed. Still, if a student wants to keep the visit private, we should of course respect that request. Students completing written work that will not be turned in to any instructor need not be asked to sign a permission slip.
An additional fifteen minutes should be set aside immediately after each tutorial’s completion: the tutor should devote this time to writing the report. Included in the report should be the name of the student, the name of the tutor, the date and time of the tutorial, the name of the instructor, the department and course number for which the written work is being completed, and a description of what transpired during the session. One copy of the report should be sent via e-mail to the instructor for whom the written work is being completed; a second copy should be sent to the Writing Center Coordinator. Faculty members should be given every opportunity to respond to the tutor and/or the Writing Center Coordinator about these reports. If a student has chosen not to sign the permission slip, the tutor should still complete the report but not send it on to the instructor. A copy should still be delivered to the Writing Center Coordinator.
Hours: Our goal at the Writing Center is to serve students, so we should make every effort to adjust our hours based on their needs. In other words, we must be flexible, willing to shift our hours to meet the demand. We should assume, for example, that fewer students will use the Writing Center during the first two weeks of the quarter than in the final two weeks, so we will want to add more hours (and/or more tutors) during these busiest times. We should also make an effort to serve those students who are on campus at unconventional hours, including evening students. We can do this by including some regular evening hours and also by developing an on-line computer service for students.
On-Line Services: Since all of our approximately 1,500 students at The Ohio State University at Lima live off campus it is imperative that we offer tutoring services for students who cannot make it to campus. Certainly we can offer low-tech help to students by encouraging them to phone us with brief questions, but we must also offer two on-line services:
- Students will be able to e-mail the Writing Center with brief questions about their written work. Responses to these questions should be guaranteed within twenty-four hours. This "Ask-a-Tutor" service should be available through the Writing Center Web page.
- Students will be able to make an appointment to meet with a tutor in an on-line chat room at a designated time. A student, for example, might wish to send us an e-mail of an essay and then, once the essay has been read, discuss the work with a tutor on line.
- As part of the OSU-Lima Writing Center Web Page, OWLS (on-line writing links) will be offered to assist students with a variety of writing needs. These links should include information and advice about the process of writing, grammar and mechanics, documentation, and research. These links will be kept up-to-date and reviewed on a regular basis.
Tutor’s Reference Library: A tutor’s library will be on hand in the Writing Center to assist tutors and students. Contained in this library should be rhetoric and grammar texts, MLA and APA style sheets, Writing Center journals and articles, CAI software, educational videotapes, and any other materials that will serve as useful reference and training materials for tutors and students. Some faculty members may want to have current syllabi or assignment sheets on file at the Writing Center, and these too should be part of the reference library.