Rhetoric and Composition

Writing Associates - Instructor Information

Writing Associates - Instructor Information

How can the writing center assist my students?

BooksThe writing center offers drop-in tutoring at convenient times for students. We're here to help in any way we can! Ultimately, it is the tutee who determines what happens in a tutoring conference. Writing associates work with the goals, priorities, and strengths of each individual student. Sessions can include everything from scanning for grammar to discussing larger issues like organizing ideas, figuring out whether arguments make sense, or coming up with topics.

Many writing associates begin by asking the tutee to read his or her paper aloud. After that, the writing associate will probably ask if there are any specific concerns about the paper and the session will go from there. The best tutoring sessions tend to be informal conversations about the paper and its ideas.

The writing center is located in room 201 of Mudd Library. Please go to the Writing Center for current hours.

How might my class benefit from a course tutor?

BookWriting associates can provide your students with one-on-one writing assistance. This usually takes place through individual appointments or open office hours. The vast majority of course tutors attend some or all class sessions, giving students a familiar face to approach, and writing associates a better sense of what the students are dealing with as they approach their papers. Writing associates can also comments on student drafts, or supplementary comments on graded assignments.

There are numerous ways you can incorporate a writing associate into the class besides just one-on-one work. Here are some possibilities you should feel free to use or not use, as you see fit:


  • Have the writing associate hold idea-generating sessions with groups of students when a paper topic is assigned. This can help students feel more comfortable and creative with a paper topic.
  • Have writing associate read and respond to journals, pointing out ideas that can be developed into papers and suggesting ways that the student might do so.
  • Have the writing associate lead small-group or full-class discussion of particularly effective and ineffective sample papers. This works best when samples come from writing other than that required for the class. If writing associates are willing, ask them to do this with samples of their own work.
  • Have the writing associate lead small-group sessions to workshop drafts of student papers.
  • On at least one paper, require students to meet individually with the writing associate more than once to discuss various drafts of the paper.


What should I know about incorporating a writing writing associate in my course?

Meet with the writing associate at the beginning of the semester to determine what his or her role in the course will be. You might want to discuss:


  • The balance between individual writing associateing sessions and other responsibilities
  • Your approaches to critiquing student work
  • Any concerns either of you have


Introduce the writing associate to the students at the beginning of the course and clarify the writing associate's function for them. This is a good time to let the writing associate answer questions or add anything he or she wants to your introduction.

Encourage or require all students to make use of tutoring. While some students may need to work with the writing associate more than others, even the best writers can benefit from such interaction. Requiring all students to work with the writing associate counteracts a tendency to attach a stigma to "being tutored."

Try to keep up a real dialogue with the writing associate as the semester goes on. You might keep in mind for discussion:


  • Any creative ideas the writing associate has for enhancing the students' writing process
  • Any insight or information the writing associate has about difficulties the students are having
  • Any feedback, critique, or suggestions you have for the writing associate, including those you are hearing from the students.


A final note: The writing associate's role is primarily that of facilitator/catalyst of the writing and learning process. writing associates are not authorities on the discipline, even though they often have some expertise in it. Ideally, they usefully occupy a middle ground between the students and the professor. They should not be expected (by either the students or the professor) to be authorities on the material. Indeed, the more they become authorities, the closer they move toward the professional role, which can actually undermine their function as helpful peer readers by leading them to be directive rather than facilitative.