Southeast Missouri State University

Before You Visit the Writing Lab

  • Don't wait until the last minute to visit the Writing Lab. Give yourself at least a day between your visit to the Lab and the date the paper is due. Otherwise, you won't have time to make significant revisions.
  • Think about what you want to accomplish before you confer with a tutor. The tutor will ask, "How may I help you?" Be ready with a specific answer. What are your main concerns regarding your paper?
  • Bring the assignment sheet, the written-down directions for the assignment you're working on.
  • Don't think you have to bring a completed draft before you can confer with a tutor in the Writing Lab. A conference can be helpful at any stage in the writing process, even if you haven't written a word yet. A tutor can help you decide on a topic, limit it, brainstorm ideas for developing it, and consider how you might organize your material before you begin.

Proofreading Policy

Tutors in the Writing Lab are eager to assist you with your writing and will do their best to address the concerns you have. That's why we hope you will tell us what you're thinking about your draft and let us know the kind of help you're seeking. However, our policy is that we will not merely proofread a paper for you, correcting errors while you sit back and observe. Our purpose is to enable you, to work with you so that, when the conference is over, in person or over the Web, you will have learned something that will help you in the future. Correcting surface errors in one paper while you sit back and watch (or leave to do something else) is not going to teach you much of anything about writing.

We will not ignore technical matters in your writing. In fact, if we notice a pattern of error (in sentence structure or pronoun reference or use of the apostrophe, for example), we will call your attention to it and help you address the problem.  Indeed, we can help you become a better proofreader. But our purpose is not to correct errors for you. Our time is better spent helping you address issues of focus, development, organization, and style. Correctness is important, but it can wait until near-final drafts, after the most important work has been done.

Allow at least a day for revision after you confer with a tutor.

Please try to allow yourself at least a day after meeting with a tutor before you have to submit the final draft to your instructor.  You will probably need that time to revise.  There is little point in meeting with a tutor an hour before the paper is due--if you hope to make significant improvements in the draft.

Ways Tutors Help

Tutors can help you to...
  • check that you've followed your instructor's directions and have addressed any explicit criteria of evaluation.
  • develop your ideas by discussing them with you and asking questions.
  • identify technical errors in a draft (for example, in sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation) and teach you to make corrections on your own.
  • become a better reader of your own writing by helping you analyze your draft in terms of focus, organization, development, style, and correctness.
  • with citing and documenting source material in MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association) styles, or another documentation style.

Your tutor will be an attentive, thoughtful reader of your writing who can let you know how your words are getting across.  If nothing else, allowing a tutor to read your paper and talk with you about it will help you learn to internalize an audience--that is, predict and respond to the needs of readers in general, whatever the assignment.

You can meet weekly (or more often) with the same tutor over the course of a semester.  Your tutor can monitor your progress and focus with you on the writing skills you would like to develop.

The tutor will not simply proofread your paper for you, per our Proofreading Policy.

Revisions

Please try to allow yourself at least a day after meeting with a tutor before you have to submit the final draft to your instructor. You will probably need that time to revise. There is little point in meeting with a tutor an hour before the paper is due--if you hope to make significant improvements in the draft.

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