Thank you for your support of the University Writing Center.
FAQs for Faculty
What happens during a Writing Center conference?
Consultants work individually with students to help them communicate more effectively in writing. During the 30-minute appointment, a Consultant typically
- Helps students review the written assignment, to be sure they are following instructions.
- Reads over the draft, and asks questions, to help students see where the work may be hard to follow logically, or unclear in expression.
- Asks students what area in their paper they want to focus on (e.g., the organization, the clarity, a particularly troublesome part, the use of sources, addressing patterns of error, and so on).
- Works out strategies with the student for addressing those concerns.
How can I encourage my students to visit the Writing Center?
There are many ways to use the Writing Center. You can recommend our services, mention us in your syllabus, give bonus points for conferring with a tutor, or require that individual students with particular needs visit us.
You can also make a Writing Center visit part of your assignment. If you decide to send your entire class, please encourage them to call for an appointment well before the due date, as we may not be able to see a large number of students in the day or two before a paper is due.
At the end of a conference, students will be given a pink sheet with the date and time of their appointment, as well as some notes regarding what was discussed.
The most important thing you can do to help your students write better is to explain to them why effective writing matters, both to you and in your field of study. Thank you for your commitment to improving student writing at CSUN.
How should my students prepare for an appointment?
To make the most of the half hour:
- Set a consultation deadline of at least 24 hours before the paper is due.
- Let them know that a consultant will not proofread for them. Students need to be involved in recognizing and remedying their own mistakes.
- Remind students to bring a printed copy of the prompt as well as a hard copy of the draft.
- Help students understand that 30 minutes will not be enough to discuss many concerns; they can schedule more than one visit if necessary.
- Email any material you would like us to have on file (rubric, prompt, etc. )
Does the Writing Center visit classes?
With sufficient notice, consultants can make a presentation to your class about a particular topic, or about Writing Center services in general. Past topics have included:
- The writing process with a timeline for the particular assignment
- Peer review session
- APA format
- Literature Review
- Personal Statement for grad school applications
To arrange a visit, call (818) 677-2033.
What workshops do you offer?
The Writing Center offers workshops in topics that students ask to cover in their individual conferences: APA and MLA format, proofreading, writing literature reviews and personal statements, and preparing to take the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam. Please feel free to suggest a workshop topic if you feel your students could benefit.
Please click to find a schedule of upcoming workshop topics and dates.
What if students need long-term help with their writing?
Writing for an academic audience is a complex skill. It takes commitment, hard work, and time for a student to improve. If an individual student has the requisite motivation, he or she is very welcome to make a weekly appointment. In conferences with the same consultant over the course of several weeks, the student can practice strategies for organizing, developing ideas with evidence, and proofreading. Taking time to revise with the help of a Writing Consultant can be a major step in improving writing skills. We have many students who find a consultant they enjoy working with, and take advantage of this opportunity to learn.
However, some students do not have the motivation to commit to frequent sessions with a consultant and to extensive reading and re-drafting on their own time. It might be better to suggest to these students that they enroll in a writing class, which provides the discipline of assigned writing and the motivation of the grade.
Does the Writing Center help grad students?
Yes. All the Writing Center's consultants can help grad students with their writing. They will not proofread for students, but they can work together with grad students on longer projects as well as class papers.
In addition, the Writing Center now has a special consultant, Dr. Terrie Mathis, working with grad students--particularly those with theses and dissertations to write. Dr. Mathis's training is in linguistics and she is well prepared to assist grad students whose first language is not English. Grad students can make a half-hour appointment with her by calling (818) 677-2033. Find out more here.
What about help with exams?
When an assignment is labeled an "exam," a consultant will ask for written evidence that the student has professor permission to seek help on the paper. If you want your students to go over an exam in the Writing Center, it should be stated in the assignment that students can ask for outside help, or you can email to give permission: .
If there is explicit permission, consultants will work together with students to help them read the assignment with understanding, and improve the organization, development, and general clarity of the response. As always, consultants will not edit a paper for students as they sit by, but they can discuss patterns of error and ways to address those. Consultants will not give answers to questions, but may ask questions like, "What do you have in your notes?" or "Is that what the question is actually asking?" to help students brainstorm and organize a response.
Where can I find out more about supporting student writing?
Here are some good resources for faculty. If you have a resource not listed here, please recommend it and we will add it.
- Multilingual Writers: A Resource Guide for CSUN Faculty and Staff
This page offers advice on how instructors can best support the success of students who are multilingual. Advice includes teaching key vocabulary to making explicit the rhetoric of academic writing in a particular genre.
- CSUN Graduate Studies Thesis/Dissertation and Graduate Project Information
This page from our University shows deadlines and offers links to pdf’s on formatting guidelines for theses/dissertations/projects. It also links you to necessary guidelines for research on human/animal subjects.
- Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices
This page defines what plagiarism is, why it happens, and how it can be effectively addressed.
- Multilingual Writing: Creating and responding to assignments from Montclair State University
Scroll down the page and you will see advice on this topic. Several different sources are linked here.
- Diagnosing and Responding to Student Writing from Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric
This page describes what it means to read as a common reader and discusses types of responses that may be given (facilitative, directive, corrective, evaluative).