Faculty FAQs

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Can you tell me if my student has been to the TLC / worked with a writing tutor?

  • A: No. This would be a violation of FERPA. Writing centers have a strong tradition of valuing student privacy. There are several solutions, each preserving student agency. A student can:
    1. show you a screenshot of their appointment on the schedule (kept appointments remain on the schedule)
    2. forward a confirmation email of their appointment.
    3. show you a tutor’s feedback from an eTutoring appointment.

I know about FERPA, but I’m grading students on whether or not they go to the TLC, so can I require each student in my class to go to the TLC?

  • A: We strongly recommend against grading on required TLC visits. Offering extra-credit to students is fine with us, but we believe that students who seek feedback on their writing will, over time, improve as writers, thus likely improving their grades.

My students have a take-home essay for which I don’t want them to receive tutoring. What can I do to prevent that?

  • A: Contact uwtteach@uw.edu at least two weeks in advance. Provide us with the assignment details, and we will pass on this information to our tutors.

I have a student who needs to take a make-up exam. Will you proctor it?

  • A: No. The TLC does not offer exam proctoring, because we cannot guarantee quiet space, and our staff is occupied with their tutoring duties. For make-up exams, please go to the Office of Undergraduate Education's Makeup Testing page.

A student took/submitted their paper to the TLC, but there are still grammar problems in the paper. Why?

  • A: We are not, strictly speaking, an editing service, and our goal in each tutoring session is NOT elimination of accented writing (i.e. grammar errors). Our tutors are trained to first listen to the writer’s concerns and intent, and to focus on the degree to which the writer has fulfilled the criteria of the assignment or prompt. When a language issue leads to a breakdown in understanding, tutors will work with the writer to elicit a clearer version of the writer’s intended meaning. For more on contemporary writing center pedagogy, see our pages on How do Writing Centers Work? and Working with Multilingual Writers.

Can you do a writing workshop or peer review in my class?

  • A: Yes! Please contact us at least two weeks in advance at uwtteach@uw.edu. We’ll need time to plan and customize any workshop to the needs and context of your course. 

Can you substitute for my class?

  • A: Maybe. Writing tutoring is our first priority. Substituting is up to each professional staff member. Advanced planning is generally necessary.

How can I be sure that a tutor isn’t helping a student in my course too much?

  • A: Though not frequently asked, this concern is important to address. If you have concerns specific to students or assignments in your class, we are happy to hear them. In our experience, it is rare for a tutor to go too far. “Helping too much” is quite subjective and can hinge on your ideals of what a university student should know and know how to do. A lot is on the table in a writing consultation. (For more on this, see How do Writing Centers Work?) At an institution like UW Tacoma, with a high number of students who are first-generation, multilingual, international, and otherwise non-traditional, student learning needs are many and varied. Students might need to discuss how to approach an assignment, how to begin research, how to begin a draft, or consider organizational options. Additionally, students may lack the background knowledge to effectively begin an assignment. If tutors have the requisite background knowledge, we encourage them to share that knowledge with the student while emphasizing that it is incumbent on the student to research the topic. A tutor who shares their background knowledge or social/linguistic capital is not appropriating that student’s work, nor are they helping that student too much. To be effective writing tutors, we must be guides to the labor of being a university student. The writing process includes all of the intellectual labor that comes before and after typing, all of which can be the focus of a writing consultation––none of which students are guaranteed to bring with them. So long as the student remains the decision-maker over the process, focus, content, and form of their work, the tutor has not overstepped.