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Writing Center gives students opportunity to work with tutors

| Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In the midst of midterms and application season, those looking to improve their writing skills can visit the Writing Center to discuss their work and receive constructive criticism. The center is open to anyone, regardless of skill level or area of study, senior Kathryn Minko, a tutor at the center said, and allows clients to work on any form of writing with trained student tutors.

“The Writing Center is a tool for undergraduate, graduate students — pretty much anybody to come in and just work on their writing and have a conversation about it,” she said. “There’s an emphasis on collaboration, not just the tutor telling the student what’s wrong with their paper.”

A student consults with a tutor in the Coleman-Morse location of the Writing Center.Chris Collins | The Observer
A student consults with a tutor in the Coleman-Morse location of the Writing Center, which is open to students of all ages, skill levels and areas of study.

Junior Evelyn Heck, also a tutor for the Writing Center, said its methodology focuses on ideas and communication. Taking cues from the way writing works in a real world academic environment, it focuses on improving a student’s writing through organic discussion with tutors, Heck said. At the Writing Center, she said, a student can receive constructive criticism about their writing as well as discuss, debate and order their ideas. 

“The purpose of the Writing Center is to promote discussion about various topics, and also to help writers shape their ways of thinking, and that’s the first step in writing a good paper,” Heck said. “It’s much less about editing and grammar or ‘What does the professor want?’ and it’s so much more about really shaping the way the writers can narrow in on what their ideas are on a given subject and express it in their own words.”

Matthew Capdevielle, director of the Writing Center, oversees the selection and training of the student tutors. To be a tutor for the Writing Center, a student must be recommended for the position by a professor, submit an application and go through an interview process. Students who have been selected as tutors take a class during their first semester as a tutor, which exposes them to the basics of teaching, tutoring and different types of rhetoric.

While its focus is to improve student writing, the Writing Center is far from a remedial program. John Duffy, director of the University Writing Program and former director of the Writing Center, said the main thing people don’t understand about the Writing Center is it’s not just for bad writers — it offers all students, regardless of age, skill level or subject an opportunity to improve their writing at any stage of the process.

“Good writers understand that they can always be better, and one of the ways to get better is to talk about your writing and to talk about the ways you can improve,” he said. “So the main misconception, I would say, is that to go to the Writing Center doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer — it means you want to be a better writer.”

Duffy said the best way to utilize the resources the Writing Center has to offer is through their online portal at writingcenter.nd.edu. On the website, clients can create an online account and schedule a 45-minute meeting with one of the Writing Center’s tutors. 


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