Odegaard Writing and Research Center

FAQs for Instructors





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

The purpose of the OWRC is to help students write better for all kinds of class assignments. Many assignments depend upon finding and analyzing specialized information, and our center was formed to help students work with the library's resources and learn the writing skills necessary for success in their courses.

We help students in three ways: Firstly, we help students better understand what an assignment is asking them for; secondly, we help students plan out how to complete assignments; and lastly, we help students execute that plan from the initial formation of ideas through the submission of a promising 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.





Who can use the OWRC?

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.





Who is on the staff?

The OWRC staff includes graduate and undergraduates that are specially trained to work at the OWRC. They come from a wide range of academic backgrounds and are chosen because they demonstrate 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.





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

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 by using our services.





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

No. We appreciate your support of the OWRC, but from experience we notice that students who are required to attend a tutoring session often come in simply 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.





But how can I encourage my students to use the OWRC?

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 and experience firsthand what students go through during a tutoring session.  Faculty and TA's can work with tutors on drafts of assignments or articles.
  • Get students who have visited the OWRC to tell others in the class about their experience. Or, 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 feedback. (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!)
  • Pick up a flyer from the OWRC and post it on your office door, pass it out in class, and/or send it to all of your students in an email. Email us at owrc@uw.edu for online materials.




Many of my students are terrible at proofreading their writing. Can I suggest that they have their papers proofread at the OWRC?

No. But, you can suggest that they go to the OWRC to learn how to recognize and correct their errors. Our tutors 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.





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

Yes. Multilingual learners are some of our most receptive learners. We are happy to contribute 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 to come in repeatedly and 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 working with multilingual and international students.





Will the OWRC help students to document their sources properly?

Yes. If students keep track of all the necessary bibliographical information and if they know which system of documentation they are supposed to use, we will help them look up answers to their citation-related questions.

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 workshop.





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

No. We don't work on a student's paper in their absence. The OWRC is all about conversation. Both the student and their tutor 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 session.)





Do you help with group papers?

Yes. 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. Delegating one group member to bring the paper to our center defeats our purpose of trying to work with students to improve their individual writing skills.





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

Students with different levels of writing ability and experience come to our writing center at various 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. 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 have the time and inclination to do so. Becoming a better writer is an ongoing process, please consider the effort some students put into their learning to understand why results will not be seen immediately.





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

Yes! We are happy to work with instructors to develop targeted workshops and presentations 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.





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

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:

In-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/PowerPoints — Do 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.