The 411 on CT 116

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Are you a new student at DACC? Perhaps you’ve been here a semester or two, but still have questions about the Writing Center.  This week’s post answers some basic questions students have about our services.

Where is the Writing Center?

The Writing Center is located on the first floor of Clock Tower, in CT 116 and CT 108. The office is across the hall from the women’s restroom on that floor, and the lab is on the west end of the building across from the labs used for Rhetoric and Composition.

When is it open?

The center opens the second week of each spring and fall semester and closes one week before finals week begins. We are open from 9:00-2:00 Monday-Thursday and 9:00-12:00 on Friday. We are closed during final exams, during the summer sessions, on holidays when DACC does not have classes, and on days when the college cancels classes due to weather or other emergencies.

How do I make an appointment?

You can make an appointment by going to http://www.dacc.edu/depts/la/writing. The online scheduling program will show you what days and times are available for appointments.  It will ask you for basic information such as the due date of your assignment, your instructor and class name, citation style, and the name of the assignment.  Please have this information available when making your appointment.  You will receive a text reminder of your appointment if you provide the service with your phone number.

What generally happens in an appointment?

Appointments are for 30 minutes. Students should expect this to include a short discussion about the purpose of the visit at the beginning of the session, the tutor session, and a brief wrap up period at the end where the tutor will ask you about plans to revisit the center, possibly make suggestions for your assignment, and fill out the necessary paperwork to inform your instructor of your visit. To get the most out of your appointment, we suggest that students have a few specific questions they have about their assignment or draft in mind when they come to the appointment.  This helps the tutor give you more focused feedback or help.  It also helps them see how you understand the assignment or your work on it.

Do I have to have an appointment?

If you want to work with a tutor, it is recommended that you make an appointment since there is usually not more than one tutor working at a time. You can drop in for a session, but you will only be seen if no one else has an appointment. After the first week or so of the semester, appointments fill up quickly, and sometimes we have to turn students away because there aren’t any available appointments. We strongly suggest students make an appointment as soon as they know they need one, even if they won’t be coming to the center for it for a few weeks.

What if I can’t make it to my appointment?

Please let the staff know as soon as possible if you can’t keep an appointment or need to reschedule one. Often, students call in on the same day they would like to be seen or drop by to see a tutor. If you don’t let a tutor know you aren’t coming, they can’t schedule someone else for that time. Also, if you are more than 10 minutes late and someone is waiting, your appointment will be given to that person. You can cancel an appointment by calling (217) 443-8877 during the hours we are open or by emailing us at thewritingcenter116@gmail.com.

What do I need to bring to an appointment?

You should bring a hard copy of your paper or assignment that you will be discussing. You can use the computer lab to print a copy if you need to, but please have this done before your session begins. You should also bring any handouts/guides your instructor has given you about what he or she expects. If you have a textbook you are working with for the assignment, please also bring it. Finally, you need to bring something to write with so that you can make notes on your draft.

What does it cost?

Tutoring services are free to DACC students.

Can a tutor help me with a computer program like Blackboard that an instructor wants me to use or show me how to use a program like Word?

Tutors are in the Writers’ Room to primarily assist students with their academic writing and related research. While they are not tutors for either technology or content knowledge of various classes, our tutors do know how to use several of the basic programs students use. They will be glad to help you if they can. If your problem is beyond their technical capabilities, they will gladly refer you to either DACC’s  CNS department, Maggie Hooever, or to your classroom instructor for help.

How far in advance of a due date should I make an appointment?

Since there are so many different types of assignments that students bring into the center, there’s no simple answer to this in terms of X amount of days or hours. However, we do see a significant amount of students who come in for help with a paper/assignment the same day it is due or the day before it’s due. If you have been in for a previous appointment for this assignment, that might work, but usually if it’s the first time you’re being seen for this piece of writing, you are going to find yourself wishing that you’d come in earlier.

Students generally underestimate the time it is going to take to edit/revise their paper in light of what is discussed during the tutor session. Try to allow yourself at least day or two between the time you will be seen and when your assignment is due to your instructor. Ideally, you should allow yourself time to revise your paper, and if possible, to come in for a follow up visit. That isn’t always possible, but it will help you get more out of your experience.

Also, students often come in with a list of things they want to “get through” during the session and find that they have underestimated the time it will take to make if from the top of the list to the bottom. Your tutor will do his or her best to get to all of your concerns, but realize if you have several, you should be prepared to visit the center more than once.

Do I have to have a completed draft of my paper when I come in for an appointment?

Some instructors do have a requirement that when a tutor sees you, you have to bring a completed draft of your paper. If this is the case, your instructor will receive a notice if you don’t have a complete draft. Otherwise, no, you don’t have to have a complete draft. You can see a tutor for help with any part of the writing process. If you have something written, even a fragment of a section or an introduction, or even a random list of ideas, be sure to bring it along.

I asked the tutor to edit my draft and he/she wouldn’t. Why?

Tutors are not editors. Tutors are there to help you become more independent writers and to help you develop your writing skills. One of those necessary skill sets is the ability to view your own work more objectively, to recognize errors, and to edit and correct the errors.

Also, as a student, you are getting a grade based on your writing skills.  Therefore, what the instructor needs to see when he or she views your paper are your skills, not those of the tutor.

A tutor will help you work on your editing/grammar skills if that is what you want to discuss during your session. They will read through your draft, point out a few examples of a particular error, discuss your options for correcting them, and then lead you through the rest of the draft asking you to identify and correct errors of the same type before moving on to the next problem area. They can also provide you with resources so that you feel more confident about recognizing and correcting grammar problems when you aren’t in the center.

I saw a tutor, and I still got “X” grade on my assignment, why is that?

First and foremost, tutors don’t evaluate your writing. Your classroom instructor is the only person who evaluates your writing and issues you a grade based on the criteria he or she has set. When you come in for a session, the tutor will ask you what the purpose of your visit that day is. He or she will then read over the draft that you have brought, the assignment guide, etc. A discussion between the two of you will ensue concerning your project in light of the topic at hand. Hopefully, you will leave with more skills, knowledge, and/or insight into writing or your work than you had when you came in.

So, why does that not equate neatly into “X” grade? Well, it might be that your session focused on one issue, and as important as that one was, it wasn’t the only one. There might have still be other issues that needed to be addressed. It might also be that whatever suggestions a tutor made concerning your writing were either ignored or not utilized as fully as they needed to be or in the way that they needed to be in order to meet your instructor’s standards for whatever grade you wanted.

Mainly, though, it is probably the fact that student growth and understanding is what we encourage in the center, and while it is nice when there is a neat correlation between that and a student’s grade on a given assignment, usually that isn’t the case in a way that is so immediately visible. For example, your grade on a particular assignment may not be what you wanted, but that doesn’t mean your skills as a student and/or writer have not improved, or that your grade isn’t higher than it otherwise would have been if you hadn’t come to the center.

Is there anything else I can do in the Writing Center besides see a tutor?

Yes!

You can use the computer lab to complete assignments for your classes.You can also print assignments for your classes.

We have group study tables for small group or individual work.

You can use our new “smart” couch.  Not only is it a comfortable place to study or hang out between classes, but you can plug in your devices to charge them or to work on assignments.

We have a small library of reference materials dealing with writing and understanding/writing about literature. You may use these materials while doing work in the Writing Center.

Your instructor may place quizzes/tests on file for students who missed completing them in class. If you are taking an exam or quiz, please be sure to bring a picture ID. Also, if your instructor has not set up a specific time for you to take the exam or quiz, please be sure that you allow plenty of time to finish it before the center closes for the day.

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