Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule an appointment?

You have several options:
1) use our online scheduler,

2) stop by during our walk-in hours, and we'll do our best to assist you, or

3) email us at apheatwole@smcm.edu for assistance or additional availability. 

E-mailing or stopping by are the best options if you can't make any of the posted hours.

More FAQs

Meet the Tutors:

Sam

 

Sam Cameron

Major: History

Minor: Educational Studies

 

Click here to see all of our peer tutors.


Workshops

Use the links below to navigate to different sections. If you have additional questions or can't find what you're looking for, please email Mandy Taylor at apheatwole@smcm.edu.

Purpose of Workshops
How Workshops Usually Work
Some Past Workshops and How They Worked     
Limitations of Workshops  
Things to Consider when Planning and Scheduling a Workshop
How to Schedule a Workshop

 

 

I. Purpose of Workshops:
Workshops are one of the most valuable services The Writing Center offers because they enable us to use the context of a specific assignment as a means of teaching a particular skill or aspect of the writing process. 


II. How Workshops Usually Work
In preparing workshops, the Writing Center will use a specific class's assignment as a vehicle for teaching a specific skill. The professor typically provides us with a copy of the assignment and identifies the skill they'd like us to address. Depending on the assignment, professors may also provide us with students' rough drafts in advance. From there, we prepare materials and activities that will aid students. These materials may include worksheets, handouts, guiding questions, sample texts, etc. Activities often include discussion, looking at samples as a class, and working in small groups. Workshops typically take place in the room where the class normally meets. 


III. Some Past Workshops and How They Worked:
In the past, we have conducted workshops in classes ranging from Art History to Computer Science, as well as for groups such as The Point News, English majors, and St. Mary's Project Biology students. We are happy to consider any topic, but here are some popular ones from past workshops:

  • Proofreading: We looked over student writing samples for a particular assignment and pulled sentences with common errors prior to the workshop. During the workshop, we went over each sentence and talked about the errors, why they might hinder a reader's understanding, and how to catch and correct them. Students then peer edited multiple classmates' drafts and flagged stylistic issues.

     
  • Refining a Thesis: We created an activity that closely mirrored the assigned research project for a certain class. During the workshop, students gathered information and constructed thesis statements. We then introduced additional research, and students had to refine their thesis statements accordingly. Students peer reviewed classmates' thesis statements, and we critiqued a couple as a class.

     
  • Peer Review: The professor provided us with the assignment and the scoring rubric. We located sample essays that fit with the assignment. During the workshop, we used these samples to model how peer review works and evaluated each sample according to the professor's rubric. Students then peer reviewed their classmates' papers, answering guiding questions on a worksheet we provided.

     
  • Developing a Thesis and Supporting It: We found two sample text that fit with the theme and focus of the class, and we annotated them, came up with a sample thesis, and drafted the first page of a sample essay. During the workshop, we discussed the annotations, thesis, and sample paper. Students then constructed their own thesis statements and listed information from the text that could be used as support.


IV. Limitations of Workshops
Workshops actively engage students in writing and revision, so there is usually some immediate improvement, but that is not our primary goal. As with tutorials, workshops seek to improve writers instead of a particular piece of writing. In fact, we often consider the piece of writing as a means of learning rather than a product of it. Significant improvement in writing takes time, and workshops are just one step in that process. In order to maximize the impact of a workshop, professors can:

  • allow enough time between the workshop and the due date for students to revise their work and visit the Writing Center,
  • time the workshop such that students have time to apply what they have learned to their work before they submit it, 
  • schedule a workshop for a day they will be present in order to model an active interest in the writing process, and 
  • reinforce workshop concepts in subsequent assignments.


V. Things to Consider When Planning and Scheduling a Workshop
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan and schedule:

  • The Skill You'd Like Us to Address: Workshops are not generic presentations; they are targeted lessons. Because of this, professors need to select a skill on which we should focus. For example, do students struggle with formulating a thesis? Do they need to hone proofreading skills? Would you like them to learn how to participate meaningfully in peer review? In other words, consider what you would like students to gain from our visit.
     
     
  • The Assignment: Workshops do not exist in isolation; they are grounded in a specific class's assignments. Because of this, professors will need to try to schedule workshops at a point that fits with the trajectory of an assignment. For example, it is extremely difficult for us to conduct a peer review workshop if students will not have drafts ready the day we visit. 

     
  • The General Timing: Along with timing the workshop to fit logically with an assignment, professors should try to time the workshop so that students have time to incorporate what they have learned before they submit their assignment. Try to allow students time not only to revise but also to visit the Writing Center if they wish.
     

VI. How to Schedule a Workshop
There are two steps to this process: 

  • Please fill out the Workshop and Class Visit Request Form, save your changes, and e-mail it as an attachment to Mandy Taylor (apheatwole@smcm.edu). We do our best to integrate workshop instruction into your existing assignments, so please provide as much information (about the nature of the class, the assignment, and your goals for student writing) as you can. 

     
  • Additionally, instructors must arrange a meeting with Mandy Taylor in advance of the workshop in order to discuss goals and plan activities. Because our workshops are highly customized, we require time and your input in order to to plan and design materials. We very much appreciate your patience with and participation in that process.