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Frequently Asked Questions: Tutoring in the University Writing Center

Q: What services do Writing Center tutors provide?
A: The Writing Center offers a number of different ways for students to access tutoring and other writing assistance.

  • One-on-One Tutoring: Our tutoring sessions are tailored and adjusted to meet students' particular needs. We don't use standard lessons or worksheets; instead, we try to work with students and their specific assignments so that they get exactly what they need. Students can access tutoring on a drop-in basis (a 30 minute, first-come-first-served session) or an appointment basis (a 45-50 minute reserved session).
  • E-mail Tutoring: The Writing Center offers an online alternative to one-on-one tutoring, in which students send their paper to a tutor via a web form. We use the same pedagogical approach for e-mail tutoring as for face-to-face tutoring, albeit with different strategies.
    Writing Fellows: The Writing Fellows program attaches Writing Center-trained tutors to individual classes, where they provide direct, focused support for all students. Writing Fellows work closely with both the instructor and students in the assigned class. Fellows are required to spend at least one semester tutoring in the Center before being assigned to a class, and they often work in both positions simultaneously.
  • Read-Ahead Tutoring: The Writing Center offers a more in-depth option for students writing seminar papers, master's essays, dissertations, or other long, complex essays. In read-ahead sessions, an advanced student is paired with a tutor in a related discipline. The tutor spends up to an hour before the session reading the draft and formulating a thorough and constructive response to the argument and organization of the paper as a whole. The tutor and student then meet for a focused appointment.
  • Workshops: The Writing Center offers both in-class workshops (upon instructor request) and in-center workshops (scheduled throughout the semester) on various aspects of writing and the writing process. Tutors who also have classroom teaching experience may become workshop coordinators, who work with individual faculty to develop a focus for the workshop and to craft materials appropriate for the course and assignment.

Most newly hired tutors will work as face-to-face tutors in the Main Campus or Ambler Writing Center during their first semester, and may branch out into other services over time.

Q: What are tutoring sessions like?
A: Writing Center tutors work with students on all aspects of writing, from brainstorming, planning and outlining, to revising, editing and proofreading. In many sessions, "tutoring" simply means "listening": students can often clarify their ideas and arguments by talking to someone who listens and asks careful questions. In other sessions, tutors give students direct instruction on some aspect of writing. For example, a tutor might explain a particular grammatical rule and then help the student find and fix errors in her paper, or a tutor might talk to a student about what constitutes an effective academic argument and then help the student improve the argument in the paper. If you're thinking about becoming a tutor, one of the best ways to learn about tutoring sessions is to be tutored yourself.

Q: Who comes for tutoring?
A: The Writing Center serves all Temple students, from freshmen to graduate students. We work with advanced writers as well as basic writers, and we work with students from across the disciplines. More than a third of our tutoring sessions are with students enrolled in First-Year Writing and Intellectual Heritage courses. Approximately 25% of the students who use the tutoring service speak English as a second language.

Q: How much do tutors earn?
A: Graduate students who tutor in the Center are paid the stipend rates determined by the TUGSA contract. Undergraduates earn $12 per hour.

Q: How many hours do tutors usually work?
A: Graduate students who tutor in the Center work from 5-20 hours per week depending on their appointment: full-time TAs work 20 hours per week, quarter-time TAs work 5 hours per week. Undergraduates typically work around 8 hours per week, though schedules vary widely.

Q: What qualifications are you looking for in a tutor?
A: The three most important qualifications are as follows:

  • Tutors need to be excellent academic writers. We look for people who produce strong essays in their academic disciplines.
  • Tutors need to be articulate about writing as a process. We look for people who understand - and can describe - the variety of things that writers actually do when they write.
  • Tutors need to be able to work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. We look for people who are cordial, flexible, and intellectually curious.

Q: I'm a new graduate student, should I apply for of TA position at the Writing Center?
A: We are looking for individuals who have experience writing in their field and at their academic level. We are also looking for individuals who are familiar with writing at Temple University. If you are a new graduate student and have no experience writing at the graduate level, we ask that you do not apply to the Writing Center. We strongly encourage you to apply after you have at least one year of graduate work and are able to submit three academic writing samples from your graduate program.

Q: I'm a master's student, can I apply for a TA position at the Writing Center?
A: Unfortunately, starting in the 2010-11 school year, we can only accept applications from doctoral students.

Q: What do you mean by "academic writing"?
A: When we request three academic writing samples, our goal is to get writing from you that reflects your ability to establish, build, and sustain an academic argument. In particular, we're hoping to see some version of an academic research paper in which you use sources (texts, data, etc.) to develop an argument that responds to other scholars in your field.

Applicants typically submit papers written for classes, conferences, or journals. We prefer not to receive papers from classes numbered below 2000.

You may submit other sorts of writing as part of your application: for example, if you are a poet, or a journalist, or if you do lots of on-the-job writing, you can include some non-academic samples. However, you must include at least two academic writing samples, and we'd really prefer to see three. We prefer to see essays you wrote recently because that gives us a sense of where you stand as a writer now.

Q: What if I don't have three samples of academic writing?
A: You have two options. First, you can wait until a later deadline. For example, if you are just entering graduate school, you can wait until you've completed your first semester, at which point you will surely have written academic papers. Second, if you have academic writing but it isn't recent, you can send us a mixed portfolio of older academic writing and recent non-academic writing. We strongly suggest that you do not write something especially for the application.

Q: How does the application process work?
A: Our hiring committee, which is composed of the Writing Center Director, Assistant Director, and Program Specialist, will review all of the applications that we receive by the appropriate deadlines. We will then invite some candidates for an interview. Please note that this process can take several weeks.