FAQ for Instructors

(View our FAQ for Writers here.)

Q: Why does the Odegaard Undergraduate Library have a writing and research center?

Q: Who can use the OWRC?

Q: Who is on the staff?

Q: Can I require my whole class to bring their papers to the OWRC?

Q: How can I encourage my students to use your center?

Q: Should I give extra credit points to students who use the OWRC?

Q: Many of my students are terrible proofreaders. Can I suggest that they bring their papers to the OWRC for proofreading?

Q: Can the OWRC help students who are struggling because English is not their native language?

Q: Will the OWRC help students to document their sources properly?

Q: Can a student drop off a paper and pick it up later?

Q: What about group papers?

Q: Sometimes my students visit the OWRC and still turn in poorly written papers. What happened? 

Q: Can I arrange to have the OWRC staff do workshops or presentations on writing in my class?

Q: What are the full range of services you offer for faculty members on campus?

Q: Why does the Odegaard Undergraduate Library have a writing and research center?

A: The purpose of OWRC is to help students write better for all kinds of class assignments. Because many college assignments depend upon finding and analyzing specialized information, we have created a center that helps students work with the library's resources as well as put together a successful paper.

This means we help students in three ways. First, we help students understand fully what any given assignment is asking them to do; second, we help students plan clearly how to complete assignments successfully; and third, we help students execute that plan from the initial writing of research notes through the submission of a successful draft.

Our partnership with the library thus enables us to be a comprehensive writing and research center, offering students expert help with all aspects of paper writing.

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Q: Who can use the OWRC?

A: The Odegaard Writing & Research Center is open to the entire UW community: faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students from any course. The only exception to our “open-door policy” is that, unfortunately, we cannot help students who are writing papers in languages other than English; our staff does not have that expertise.

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Q: Who is on the staff?

A: The OWRC staff includes graduate and advanced undergraduates who have received special training to prepare for their work at the OWRC. They come from departments across campus and were chosen because they demonstrated all the qualities of a good tutor. Tutors are trained to respond to writing across the curriculum. You are welcome to stop by our center and become acquainted with our staff.  For more information about particular tutors, please visit our staff page.

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Q: Can I require my whole class to bring their papers to the OWRC?

A: Please don't! We appreciate your support of the OWRC, but we know from experience that when students get a blanket requirement of this kind, most of them wait until the last minute and then come in simply to get us to verify their presence; they don't plan to make any substantial changes in their papers. This creates a traffic jam in the center and may prevent other students, who are serious about improving their writing, from getting the help that they seek on their own. Please see the next question for suggestions on how to encourage your students to take advantage of our services.

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Q: How can I encourage my students to use the OWRC?

A: Here are some suggestions:

  • Add a description of the OWRC on your syllabus. and your view of our service.  Feel free to copy the following paragraph and paste it on your syllabus:

    The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers free, one-to-one, 45-minute tutoring sessions for undergraduate, graduate, and professional writers in all fields at the UW. We will work with writers on any writing or research project, as well as personal projects such as applications or personal statements. Our tutors and librarians collaborate with writers at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to drafting and making final revisions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please see our website (https://depts.washington.edu/owrc), or come visit us in person on the first floor of Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

  • Direct them to our website: http://www.depts.washington.edu/owrc
  • Make an appointment for yourself so that you can experience firsthand what students do.  Faculty and TA's can work with tutors on drafts of assignments or articles.  Follow the directions on our homepage to make an appointment with a tutor.
  • Get students who have visited the OWRC to tell others in the class about their experience. In addition, feel free to share comments from past students about the effectiveness of writing center services.
  • Without using names, share anecdotes about your former students who have used our services and improved as writers.
  • Describe your writing process and when and why you seek feedback from others.  Bringing in multiple drafts of your work can provide a powerful visual illustration of the writing process.  It's good for students to know that even experienced writers need good readers. (That's much better than telling them to go to the OWRC if they “have any problems”; no one wants to admit to having writing problems!)
  • Remind students that the OWRC will provide conference summaries to instructors upon request. Reinforce to them that you value these summaries and see them as evidence of initiative and seriousness about the course. Alert them that they are welcome to have copies of these summaries as well.
  • Remind students that they can get help online as well as onsite.  Some students feel comfortable sampling writing center services through the relative anonymity and distance of our online services.  Currently these services take the form of our Writing Resources section, a self-help databank of handouts addressing common writing issues.  This service is available at any time. 
  • Pick up a flyer from the OWRC and post on your office door, pass it out in class, and/or send it to all of your students via e-mail. 
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Q: Should I give extra credit points to students who use the OWRC?

A: No. While awarding extra points may give students extra incentive to visit, our past experience indicates that most make appointments simply to get the points without the intent to improve as writers. Students who make these perfunctory appointments block other students who have actively and independently chosen to get help from using our services.

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Q: Many of my students are terrible proofreaders. Can I suggest that they bring their papers to the OWRC for proofreading?

A: No, but you can suggest that they go to the OWRC to learn how to recognize and correct their errors. Our consultants won't do students' editing or proofreading for them, but we are happy to provide instruction in grammar, usage, sentence structure, and punctuation, in the context of reading and discussing the writing that students bring to us.

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Q: Can the OWRC help students who are struggling because English is not their native language?

A: Yes, multilingual learners are some of our best clients. We are happy to contribute what we can to their process of learning to write in English, but both they and you should understand that we will not be rewriting their sentences or correcting every error in their writing. Writing in a second language (and for many of these students, English is a third or fourth language) is a difficult and sometimes frustrating process; it takes time, practice, and persistence. Those who are willing, as many are, to come in repeatedly and to work hard between sessions to apply what they learn in the OWRC will gradually make progress, but please don't expect instant results. We encourage faculty to "read through error" and consider some grammatical issues that multilingual students have as "accent." For more information about providing feedback to multilingual writers, please see the UW College of Arts and Sciences Writing and the Center for Teaching and Learning's pages on workign with multilingual and international students.

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Q: Will the OWRC help students to document their sources properly?

A: Yes. If students keep track of all the necessary bibliographical information, and if they know which system of documentation they are supposed to use (APA, MLA, CMS, CBE, AMA, Turabian, etc.), we will help them look up answers to their questions about citing particular sources. We may not always be able to find the answers, but we will try.

If you have a class full of students who need instruction in the basics of using and identifying sources properly, you may want to work with the OWRC to create and schedule a class presentation. 

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Q: Can a student drop off a paper and pick it up later?

A: No, we don�t work on a student�s paper in his absence. The OWRC is all about conversation. Both the student and his or her consultant will be asking and answering questions -- reading the paper together and engaging in a dialogue about what is working and what isn�t, looking for solutions to problems, and exploring different options together. (See What to Expect for more information about what goes on in a writing center conference.)

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Q: What about group papers?

A: We are happy to help with group papers if all the group members come in to ask and answer questions about the parts they have written, and to learn by correcting errors they might have made. Delegating one group member to bring the paper to our center defeats our purpose of trying to work with students to improve their writing.

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Q: Sometimes my students visit the OWRC and still turn in poorly written papers. What happened? 

A: Students at many different levels of writing ability and experience come to our writing center at many different stages of their writing process. Our objective in each writing center conference is to help students feel ready and able to tackle the next step, or the next few steps, in writing or revising the papers they bring to us. That means we have to help them set priorities and make judgments. We may, for example, show a student how to restructure his paper so that the parts of it fit together more coherently, or how to bolster their argument with more evidence, or how to use and identify their sources properly, or how to correct some persistent errors in usage or punctuation.  Frequently we see papers with more writing challenges than we can address in a forty-five minute session. We are often aware that even if writers use what they learn to improve their paper in some ways, there will still be other issues remaining. In that case we encourage students to come back for additional sessions as they are revising and hope that they have the time and inclination to do so. UW's Academic Integrity Policy also informs our approach.

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Q: Can I arrange to have the OWRC staff do workshops or presentations on writing in my class?

A. Yes! We are happy to work with instructors to develop targeted workshops andpresentations on specific topics that will be helpful to a class (such as peer review, avoiding plagiarism, engaging in meaningful revision, or using the MLA or APA system of documentation). Please e-mail us at owrc@uw.edu or call 206.221.0972 for more information.

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Q: What are the full range of services you offer for faculty members on campus?

A: In order to provide the best possible support for student writers, the OWRC provides support, resources and consultation services for faculty who assign writing in their courses. Our services for faculty include:

<pIn-Class Visits Would you like your students to hear about our services first-hand?  Request one of our tutors to visit your class and perform a 5-minute presentation about our services.

Workshops You can save valuable planning time by asking one of our tutors to come to your classroom to conduct specially-focused writing workshops. We've developed workshops and materials on a wide array of writing topics and can even customize a workshop to meet your specific assignments and writing needs!

Handouts/PowerPointsDo you need helpful handouts or PowerPoints on writing and/or research for your students to use in the classroom?  We'll be happy to send you a copy of our resources.

Private Consultations Are you interested in adding more writing or writing instruction to your courses? We can help! We are happy to work with you one-on-one to assist in the creation of writing prompts and/or finding ways to make writing more central to your course.

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