At the UNO Writing Center, writers at all levels, from freshmen to graduate students, can get feedback on their writing and help with any writing problems they may encounter. Whereas most of the students we serve come to us from various composition classes, we welcome all writers and the writing tasks they are working on. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not just help struggling writers: experienced writers can profit as much from a session with a trained tutor as do beginning writers.
We like to think of the Writing Center as a kind of health club for writing skills, with the tutors serving as personal trainers to students, helping them assess their writing goals, showing them effective ways of getting there, and encouraging them to continue when they encounter temporary setbacks. Just as nobody can become physically fit by working out once or twice, good writers acquire their skills through constant practice, with or without a teacher’s or tutor’s assistance. We at the Writing Center want to create an atmosphere in which writers feel comfortable to talk about their writing challenges and to hone their skills, a safe place for them to experiment and to learn in ways that work for them.
Our tutors, who are all graduate assistants in the English department, offer tutoring for the various stages of the writing process (generating ideas, doing research, organizing material, formulating thesis and topic sentences, providing support, documenting sources, revising drafts, writing effective introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions) as well as the editing process (correcting grammatical and mechanical problems, improving style).
The Writing Center is not a proofreading service, however. The tutors will not “fix” students’ grammar problems nor rewrite portions of their papers. They will explain the areas of writing and editing students have problems with, guide them through appropriate exercises if necessary, and supervise them as they locate and correct errors in their papers.Tutors are not allowed to write on the students’ papers at all; the writers are responsible for all necessary corrections and revisions in their papers. Our task is not to shepherd students through their writing assignments but to help them become competent writers and effective editors of their own writing. We do not want to create dependency on writing tutors but give students the writing skills they need and the confidence to rely on their abilities.