1. Who uses the Writing Center?
  2. How can a peer writing consultant help me?
  3. Are appointments always necessary?
  4. How long before my paper is due should I schedule an appointment?
  5. I'm stuck! Will a writing consultant tell me what to write?
  6. Will the writing consultant correct my spelling and grammar?
  7. Are writing consultants available to help with writing in all subjects?
  8. English is not my first language. How can the Writing Center help me?
  9. Can I drop off a paper and have someone proofread and correct it?
  10. Is there a fee for using the Writing Center?
  11. Will my professor (or anyone else) know I came to the Writing Center?
  12. Are there any cases when seeking feedback on a draft might be seen as academic dishonesty?
  13. Is it okay to bring take-home exams to the Writing Center?
  14. What is the difference between the Writing Center and the Writing Program?

Q 1. Who uses the Writing Center?

Writers from across the University community, including students, faculty and staff, seek feedback from Writing Center consultants.

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Q 2. How can a peer writing consultant help me?

By engaging in conversation with you about your project, listening to you read your draft aloud, or helping you brainstorm ideas, a peer writing consultant can help you put your thoughts into words and get a sense of whether your words convey the meaning you intend. A consultant can help you answer the question that most writers have at some point: "Does this make sense?" Through reflective listening and by asking questions about what he or she doesn't understand, the consultant can help you to clarify your own thinking and writing at all levels, from organization and content to grammar and sentence structure.

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Q 3. Are appointments always necessary?

No. Although appointments are encouraged, writers may drop in during our hours to see if a consultant is available to work with them. Please note that if you are more than ten minutes late for a scheduled appointment and another writer is waiting, your appointment will be given to that writer.

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Q 4. How long before my paper is due should I schedule an appointment?

You should schedule an appointment as soon as you feel that feedback from another person would be helpful—and not so late that you don't have time to revise your paper after your appointment. Often a student will bring a "final" draft to the Writing Center on the day the paper is due and discover ways that the paper might be significantly improved—if only it weren't due in an hour!

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Q 5. I'm stuck! Will a writing consultant tell me what to write?

A consultant will not tell you what to write. If you are having trouble thinking of what to say in a paper, the consultant will probably ask you some questions about the class and the assignment, to help you start putting what you know into words. This process may lead to your creating an outline or writing a tentative thesis statement during the tutoring session; or it may help you to formulate a plan for finding out what more you need to know before starting to write (for instance, you may need to look more closely at an assigned text, or ask the professor for more information about the writing assignment).

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Q 6. Will the writing consultant correct my spelling and grammar?

In a consulting session, the writer, not the consultant, makes all changes to a draft. Instead, the consultant will ask you what concerns you have about your paper, and then the two of you will read through the draft together, focusing on your concerns—organization, content, "clarity," grammar, or whatever aspects of the paper you feel need attention. Usually the writer reads the draft aloud and the consultant follows along, with either person stopping for clarification when necessary. When grammatical issues need to be addressed, the consultant may show you how to recognize a particular kind of error, such as a run-on sentence or a problem with verb tense, and then help you learn to correct such errors yourself.

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Q 7. Are writing consultants available to help with writing in all subjects?

Yes. While it's unlikely that a writer with a political science paper, for instance, will end up working with a consultant who is a political science major, all consultants are trained to work with writers from all disciplines. Please do not expect consultants to be experts in a given field or to know exactly what your instructor is expecting.

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Q 8. English is not my first language. How can the Writing Center help me?

By engaging you in conversation about a class, an assignment, or a draft, Writing Center consultants offer people who are learning English a comfortable, non-judgmental environment in which to practice and refine speaking and writing skills. Consultants are familiar with common areas in which English poses problems for non-native speakers, and can help you learn to recognize and address these aspects of your own writing.

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Q 9. Can I drop off a paper and have someone proofread and correct it?

No. (See answers above.)

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Q 10. Is there a fee for using the Writing Center?

No. All Writing Center services are free for members of the Bucknell community.

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Q 11. Will my professor (or anyone else) know I came to the Writing Center?

Writing Center services are confidential. At the end of each session, the consultant and client together complete a brief "session summary" summarizing the appointment. One copy is kept for the Writing Center's confidential records, one copy goes to the client, and a copy can be sent to the professor, if the student wishes.

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Q 12. Are there any cases when seeking feedback on a draft might be seen as academic dishonesty?

Although most faculty members and students believe that talking about ideas in the context of a consulting session promotes learning and may help reinforce critical thinking skills, audience awareness, and revision strategies, some faculty members want their students to work alone. Faculty members should communicate their expectations clearly; if they do not, students should ask them to explain appropriate study and writing practices in the course.

Some faculty members do not want students to seek feedback from a peer consultant who is taking the same course. Should you drop in to the Writing Center and discover that the consultant on duty is a coursemate of yours, the consultant may advise you to work with another consultant instead.

In addition, students should ask their instructors if it is appropriate to seek feedback on a take-home essay exam. Since the Writing Center is not equipped to know the expectations of all faculty members, individual students and teachers must communicate clearly with each other about appropriate practices. If you have questions, please ask your instructor.

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Q 13. Is it okay to bring take-home exams to the Writing Center?

Faculty members' requirements vary regarding take-home exams. Some faculty members allow students to work with Writing Center consultants on exams written outside of class, but some do not. Always read the test or assignment instructions carefully, and if you are not sure what resources your professor expects or allows you to use in completing a final exam, please ask your professor before seeking any assistance.

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Q 14. What is the difference between the Writing Center and the Writing Program?

In Bucknell's Writing Program, writing instruction is offered "across the curriculum," which means that students may fulfill their writing requirement by taking writing-intensive (or "W") courses in their majors as well as in other subjects. Students generally take one W1 course during their first year at Bucknell, and two W2 courses during the next three years.

The Writing Center was established to support the Writing Program by offering one-on-one and workshop support both for writers and for faculty members in the teaching of writing.

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