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Department of English Language and Literature

Writing Center

Writing Center

Guidelines & Policies for Instructors Utilizing the Writing Center

About the Writing Center

The Writing Center supports all communicators at USC—undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty. Anyone enrolled in a course or working for USC is welcome to schedule appointments with tutors in the Writing Center.

The Writing Center is a space where clients will learn more about effective communication, especially in written genres, away from the burden of grades or traditional academic evaluation. While the tutors work with clients on assignments by closely consulting assignment sheets and/or rubrics, they prioritize each client’s agenda to help them build upon their preexisting skills. The tutors can and do teach clients about grammar, mechanics, and citations, but tutors do not proofread or edit clients’ documents.

The Writing Center offers in-person, live video, and document drop appointments. Clients can schedule appointments for 25 or 55 minutes with a limit of 4 appointments weekly.

The Writing Center employs a staff of 10-12 tutors who each work 10 hours per week (all graduate students in English), who are supervised by the Center’s Director and Assistant Directors. Staffing constraints necessarily limit the number of appointments and other forms of support we can offer to support instructors and clients.

We ask instructors who want their students or mentees to use the Writing Center to please review, below, our suggestions and policies.

The Director welcomes invitations to visit classes in person or remotely.

If you would like someone from the Writing Center to visit your classroom, please email at least three weeks before you intend a Writing Center representative to visit your class. The Director will respond with a form for instructors to complete and return via email. The Director will follow up within 24 hours (except weekends and university holidays) of receiving the completed form to schedule the visit if she or a tutor is available.

The Writing Center offers remote visits only after 3 PM.

The Writing Center has offered the following classroom presentations:

  • Short and long Writing Center introductions
  • Conducting peer reviews
  • Composing argumentative thesis statements
  • Constructing logical arguments
  • Using sources ethically and effectively
  • Writing literature reviews
  • Planning and writing Honors theses
  • Transitioning from undergraduate writing to graduate-level writing
  • Understanding the genre of academic writing and presentation

The Director is happy to learn about instructors’ needs and collaborate to design a presentation based on the instructors’ request.

Below are some effective strategies to encourage students to come to the Writing Center. The Director also welcomes opportunities to speak with instructors about their specific classroom situations to develop methods for motivating students to make and attend Writing Center appointments.

  • Invite a Writing Center representative to visit class for a half-hour, during which the visitor will show students how and when to make appointments as part of the writing process. Often, many students will schedule appointments by the end of those visits.
  • Offer extra credit for visits. To make a recommended visit as useful as possible, instructors should be specific about the content of the visit. Discourage students from coming just for credit or just for editing. Help them determine reasons for visiting. If you want proof of a visit, tell students to request the tutor to send you a post-session report.
  • Provide time in class for students to make appointments with Writing Center tutors. Have students send you screenshots of confirmed appointments for extra credit.
    • This is particularly effective when instructors check in with students about their progress on upcoming due dates. It’s helpful to ask students what challenges they’re encountering and then provide time (about 5 minutes) to allow them to make appointments.
  • Add links to the Writing into syllabi and assignments.
  • If you want students to come to the Writing Center during the writing process on an assignment, please first email the Director to schedule a phone call or video conference to discuss what the Center can reasonably accommodate.
    • Please do not penalize students who cannot make appointments with a tutor. Tutors are often fully booked. Due to limited hours and staffing at the Center, some clients may not be able to schedule a visit or may not prefer or be prepared for a doc-drop appointment. Therefore, some students may not be able to complete a required visit. We thus typically discourage instructors from requiring Writing Center attendance; however, the Director is happy to talk with individual instructors about their courses and needs.
  • The Writing Center cannot provide or replicate “peer review.” Tutors are not peers and do not follow peer review guidelines during appointments. Such guidance centers the instructor’s agenda, not the client’s. The Director is happy to speak with instructors who are considering ways to supplement or replace traditional peer review.
    • If an instructor teaches in the FYE program and has questions about handling student absences during peer review, please email the FYE Director, Dr. Kevin Brock, at
    • The Writing Center Director is happy to talk with the instructor about the possibilities available to instructors and students, to meet with the instructor and Dr. Brock, or otherwise support FYE instructors as they navigate ways to promote the Writing Center.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.