CWC for Teachers

Kumar DSoc FWS

The Cornell Writing Centers (CWC) can help support you and your students  through classroom visits and workshops, writing guides, and the Essay Response & Consultation Program. We are always excited to work with you to develop activities, workshops, or resources that are specific to your course and writing needs.

CWC Syllabus Blurb

Our graduate and undergraduate tutors are eager to work collaboratively with all writers on campus. While tutoring services can sometimes be assumed to be for weak or struggling writers, we strongly believe that all writers—whether novice, first year, seniors, or graduate students—benefit from sharing their developing ideas and writing with others. Regardless of writing expertise, we believe that the engaged dialogue between a tutor and writer fosters student reflection, growth and learning about writing.

The CWC relies on support and promotion from faculty and instructors across campus; thus, we hope that you will continue to support our services and your students by including the CWC blurb (below) on your syllabus or Canvas site and by periodically reminding students about the work we do.

The Cornell Writing Centers Syllabus Blurb

The Cornell Writing Centers (CWC) provide support for individuals at any stage of the writing process. It is a free resource available to everyone on campus—faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students—for nearly any kind of writing project: applications, presentations, lab reports, essays, papers, and more. Tutors (trained peers) serve as responsive listeners and readers who can address questions about the writing process or about particular pieces of writing. They can also consider questions of confidence, assignment expectations, critical reading, analytic thought, and imagination. All writing tutors are also trained to work with multilingual writers writing in English and to help support application materials. Walk-ins are welcome, or you can make an appointment here:  

Request Bookmarks, Stickers, or Posters

To promote the CWC, we typically print promotional bookmarks, stickers, and posters each semester. All students in first-year writing seminars receive either a CWC bookmark or sticker each semester. If you would like us to send promotional materials to you for your course or to send posters to be hung in your building, please email Director Kate Navickas, 

    Advice for Encouraging Students to Use the CWC

    Making an appointment at the Cornell Writing Centers can be intimidating for students. When you talk about the value of tutoring, it helps to explain to students what they can expect. Here are some points we hope you might emphasize: 

    1. Tutoring is not only for struggling writers, it's beneficial for all writers. All writers grow from sharing their work, talking about it, and getting feedback on it. 
    2. Tutoring is interactive and collaborative because this leads to deeper learning and growth. Writers can expect tutors to ask them questions about their writing, ideas, understanding of the assignment, and hopes for a piece of writing. Tutors may also encourage writers to do some brainstorming, reading, and writing with them during the session as a way to get started on the work. 
    3. Tutors will help with language-issues, grammar, syntax, and editing; however, they will do this in a collaborative manner. That is, a tutor will not silently line-edit someone's essay. The goal of tutoring is learning, which means they may ask questions about word choice, vocabulary, intention, and sentence-structure in order to help clarify meaning and discuss possible corrections. The expectation, though, is that the writer will be involved and in-control of their own writing.  
    4. Tutors are highly trained undergraduate students who are incredibly friendly and love talking about writing! 

    Requiring Tutoring Appointments 

    The Cornell Writing Centers do not officially support requiring students to attend a tutoring session. There are several reasons why it may not be best to require students to get tutored. On a logistical level, we usually have two tutors for each shift at each location; requiring tutoring can lead to one location being overwhelmed, which isn’t great for either tutors or students. On a more pedagogical level, tutoring is primarily about fostering writer agency—that is, tutors are trained to help writers become better writers through the writer’s own work, efforts, writing and thinking. This type of learning environment works best when students make the choice for themselves to come to the Writing Centers. Sometimes, when students are required, they are resistant to feedback or less interested in discussing their work or actively engaging with their writing, which makes tutoring less effective.

    While we discouraging requiring tutoring appointments, we do understand the value of giving students a slightly stronger form of motivation. We often hear stories of students who have had meaningful learning experiences through a tutoring session but would have never made an appointment if a teacher had not encouraged them to do so. Instead of requiring tutoring, though, we recommend offering a writing center appointment as extra credit. If you choose to do this, here is some advice: 

    • Make sure you review the above recommendations on what to expect from a tutoring session with all students. In particular, students need to expect an interactive and collaborative experience. 
    • Build in enough time so that students have a week or two to make an appointment. When students are given an extra credit assignment, but only have one weekend to get tutored, our locations get overwhelmed and students get frustrated.
    • We strongly recommend that you ask students to do some short reflective writing after they have attended a tutoring session for extra credit. This reflective writing is useful for two reasons: first, educational research shows that reflection aids in learning; and second, their reflection can function as proof of their tutoring experience. Here is an example reflection prompt that you might ask students to complete after an appointment:
      • After you visit the Cornell Writing Centers, write a 250-word reflection on the experience.  You might consider any of the following questions to guide your writing:  What were the most and least successful aspects of the session?  What specific writing strategies did you and the tutor discuss?  What specific revisions did you and the tutor discuss?  How was the tutor's feedback similar to or different from the feedback you have received from classmates or me this semester?  What do you plan to do differently after this tutoring session? Why?
    • Tutors are not allowed to sign off on a student’s appointment. Undergraduate student tutors (who are peers) are not prepared to police, monitor, or evaluate students. So we strongly discourage teachers for asking for proof in the form of a signed slip of paper, etc. What a Writing Center tutor can do, however, is to send the writer a copy of their client report form. All tutors write up a summary of each session for our records, which they are allowed to email to the student. The student, then, is allowed to do whatever they want with that client report form (including sending it to you).

    Writing Guides

    The CWC has developed a select number of writing guides (with downloadable PDF handouts) on common writing skills. While these writing guides are written for student audiences, we encourage teachers to share them directly with students or to use them to develop in-class activities related to specific assignments. Further, we are happy to meet with teachers to discuss specific writing assignments or challenges and develop course-specific writing guides. For more information on course-specific writing guides, please contact Director Kate Navickas, 

    Classroom Visits & Workshops

    The CWC can also help foster productive and engaging small group writing workshops in your class! Kate Navickas, Director of the Cornell Writing Centers, along with some tutors, can schedule classroom visits that promote effective peer responses around higher order concerns, like focus, organization, the development of ideas, thesis sentences, using sources, etc. Tutors will work with and alongside small groups of students as they read and respond to each others' writing. 

    Workshops are limited by our schedules and capacity. When requesting one, we typically ask for: 

    • Two weeks notice 
    • Course days, times, and location 
    • Syllabus copy 
    • Assignment that students will be working on 
    • Teacher's understanding of writing skills to focus on 

    Contact Kate Navickas for more details. 

    Essay Response Consultation

    The Essay Response Consultation enables instructors to sit down one on one with tutors to talk about student writing. Because tutors have a great deal of experience in reading student essays and teacher comments, they can usefully support instructors who want to deepen and extend strategies for commenting on student work. Instructors can work with tutors to:

    • review a set of papers on which the instructor has already commented.
    • discuss a set of papers when the instructor is in the process of providing response and evaluation.