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Metro State students have reams of writing assignments every semester. And the checklist for a quality paper is daunting: correct punctuation, proper grammar, flawless citations and clear writing. Luckily, there’s help to be had on campus.
“The beauty of writing tutoring is helping students break down a complex process into manageable chunks,” said Jules Thompson, Director of the Center for Academic Excellence at Metro State.
Tutors at the Writing Center at the Center for Academic Excellence can help students develop writing skills for college and beyond. “In many professions, a person’s writing abilities can make or break their career,” Thompson said. “Students are highly aware of that and they are also highly aware of how writing is important for their classes.”
Right to pre-write
A typical writing tutorial begins with the pre-writing phase. Tutors encourage students to read their writing assignments carefully. Students look for verbs and tasks they need to complete. Tutors question students to make sure they understand the instructions. Once students are aware of the objectives, they learn how to create a plan for their writing project.
To prepare students for the research phase of writing, tutors help students improve their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. They can instruct on effective note-taking too. These steps can ensure stronger content and insights in student papers. “Clear writing is an indication of clear thinking,” said Thompson.
Wise to revise
As students make progress on a writing assignment, they can schedule follow-up tutoring appointments.
“Part of the Center’s work is helping students understand that writing is not a ‘one and done,’” Thompson said. “Writing is an ongoing process. Turning in the first draft is not going to convey what the writer needs it to convey; it’s not going to meet professors’ expectations unless you are a superb writer.”
As tutoring sessions are limited to 50 minutes, students are asked to choose one or two things they would like to focus on.
“Most of our clients are concerned about sentence-level issues, such as punctuation, grammar, citations,” Thompson said. “We want to provide feedback on those things, but we don’t want a sentence-level focus to exclude ‘big picture’ issues that also affect the quality of the paper, like organization.”
Uniting for writing
The Writing Center welcomes students from any class or major. They can help students with any writing project, including resumes and graduate school entrance essays. Over 3,500 writing tutorials were conducted in the last academic year.
Tutors seek to establish a relationship with each and every student to give them a positive, empowering tutoring session.
“Tutoring centers are places where students can come and our goal is to make them feel safe and comfortable in taking risks and making mistakes and learning from those mistakes,” said Thompson. “What we’re trying to do is to help students build upon the writing skills they already have and also help them build new skills.”