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Writing Center Policies and Practices


The Writing Center, which is supported by the English department,  is a free peer-centered/peer-guided service that offers student-to-student help to writers. The primary objective of Writing Center consultants is to help students become better independent writers. Consultants help writers with all stages of the writing process and with writing from any discipline. Consultants do not "proof-read" or edit papers for students; instead, consultants help students to learn how to recognize problems or errors and how to correct them themselves. The Writing Center does not provide a "drop-off" service; students must be present to go over the paper with the consultant. The responsibility for the paper is always the student writer's, not the consultant's.

The Writing Center provides a means for Southwest Minnesota State University to aid students in being successful learners; this is in keeping with Southwest Minnesota State University's stated mission to help students "to meet the complex challenges of this century as engaged citizens in their local and global communities," as well as supports the University value to "facilitate the learning experience of our enrolled students."

Policies and Practices

What kind of tutoring does the Writing Center do?

The peer-centered approach in the Writing Center enables students seeking our services to interact in a more comfortable environment, on equal footing with the consultant, and to have a discussion about their writing rather than be told "how-to." Consultants in the Writing Center want students to feel free to ask questions in a non-threatening, non-evaluative atmosphere, where the students can express their concerns about writing.

One of our goals is to help students gain confidence in their writing. To do that, we help them recognize their own strengths and weaknesses by asking a lot of questions, thereby prompting the students to consider their own writing processes. When students return for repeat visits to the center, consultants are able to help them recognize their progress.

How can the Writing Center help students & consultants?

Consultants are available to help students with any aspect of the writing process. For example, consultants could guide students who might need help coming up with an idea or brainstorming, who need feedback on structure or organization, who would like a reader's response to a completed draft, or who are experiencing problems with grammar and mechanics.

The Writing Center provides benefits not only for the students who seek our services but for the consultants who work here. Tutoring others helps consultants learn how to teach and how to communicate better, and it reinforces a consultant's own writing skills and concepts about the writing process.

Consultants who are hired in the Writing Center must have a strong English background or ability in order to help students from all disciplines with their writing tasks (although they do not have to be English majors; students from all disciplines are welcome to apply). Consultants must also have strong communication skills and be able to facilitate a student's learning rather than dictate it.

How does the Writing Center handle plagiarism?

One task of a Writing Center consultant is to help students to recognize how to properly cite sources and incorporate source material into their texts. Should a consultant suspect plagiarism in a text, he/she will draw the writer's attention to it, ask if the writer knows how to cite sources, show them how if they do not, and tell them that ethically, they are obligated to do so; to not do so violates the University's academic dishonesty policy. Should a student writer boast to a consultant that they have plagiarized and have no intentions of changing their text to give credit to sources, the consultant will report the incident to the Writing Center Director, who will then forward the information on to the appropriate instructor.

Last Modified: 2/9/17 11:03 AM