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Misconceptions about Writing Centers

I'm in the BSU 303 class about tutoring writing, and we've had a few discussions about the misconceptions people have about the Writing Center. These inaccurate ideas can come from instructors who are not familiar with the Writing Center or from students, who may be inclined to bring these misconceptions with them to writing appointments.

Students may get the idea that the Writing Center will simply revise and/or correct a paper for the writer, or they may believe that an appointment with a tutor will guarantee a better grade. Student writers who come to the center may be frustrated and disappointed to find that they still need to maintain an active role in their own papers while in the center. I can imagine that many students would be tempted to say, "Well, you have the answers, just give them to me. It would make it easier on both of us."

I haven't actually conducted any of my own tutoring sessions yet, but I was wondering if any of the more 'seasoned veterans' have anything to say about this. Is this a common problem in consultations? Do you ever find yourselves saying, "I'm sorry, but that's not really what we do here"? Perhaps at times some re-education is necessary about what a Writing Center is and what it is for. And I am sure many students do not like to hear this. Feel free to share any relevant (or irrelevant) thoughts or experiences. Happy tutoring...



  1. Working through misconceptions to a successful session can sometimes be tough. But sometimes I think it's more just working around wording. When a student comes into the Center and asks "Can you edit my paper?" I don't start talking about my pedagogical beliefs of what the Writing Center does. I usually just say something like "Okay, let's look at the paper." Maybe they're just using the word 'edit' because it's a word they hear get tossed around with 'writing' a lot.

    Then, at the beginning of the session, (after the writer who wanted me to "edit" her paper and I both sit down) when we talk about an agenda and a plan for the session, I think more often than not the student doesn't want just a copy editor--other needs usually come out.

    So while I agree with you, Eric, that many people do have misconceptions about the Writing Center, I think sometimes we have misconceptions that they have misconceptions, and once the sessions play out these supposed differences can vanish... (sometimes) :)

  2. Anonymous3:33 PM

    So many misconceptions! Whether it's that the WC will proofread and correct, or that we're only for "bad" writers, or even worse, that we only work with English majors....

    We work hard every year to convey to the newbies that we are a service that (1) teaches, (2) help everyone, regardless of age, talent, or grades, and (3) work with people of all majors and subjects.

    No matter what, some people will always have a specific idea about the WC in their heads and nothing we tell them or show them will ever change their minds. Such a shame.


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