Faculty and Staff FAQs


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Feel free to contact the Workshop if you have questions other than those addressed here or would like to know more.

Who are the writing consultants?

Am I allowed to assign or require a student (or an entire class) to visit the Writers' Workshop?

Am I allowed to offer students the option of coming to the Workshop rather than doing peer review or offer extra credit for visiting the Workshop?

What kind of help can students expect to get during a visit to the Writers' Workshop?

How do I help students prepare for a session with a writing consultant?

Will I be notified if one of my students sees a consultant in the Writers' Workshop?

If I assign a take-home exam, will writing consultants help my students with the exam?

Can I see a consultant for my own writing--grants, articles for publication, etc.?

Who are the writing consultants?

The Writers' Workshop staff is comprised of graduate student consultants and faculty consultants from a variety of backgrounds. Chosen for their writing ability and teaching experience, the consultants meet regularly for ongoing training and professional development.

Am I allowed to assign or require a student (or an entire class) to visit the Writers' Workshop?

We urge students in any discipline, at any stage in the writing process, and at any level to visit the Writers' Workshop. At the same time, the goals of both the writer and the Workshop are typically best met when writers seek assistance of their own volition. If required to work with a consultant, students may view the demand as a punishment rather than a learning opportunity. In addition, sheer numbers prevent us from being able to become a required part of course or work expectations. For these reasons, we ask that you avoid assigning Writers' Workshop appointments, particularly to entire classes. However, we appreciate that you strongly encourage writers to work with one of our consultants and look forward to meeting with them.

(See also "Will I be notified if one of my students sees a consultant in the Writers' Workshop?")

Am I allowed to offer students the option of coming to the Workshop rather than doing peer review or offer extra credit for visiting the Workshop?

While we're eager to have you encourage your students to work with consultants in the Writers' Workshop, we ask that you refrain from offering students the option of visiting the Workshop rather than participating in peer review or offering extra credit for coming to the Workshop.

First, the sessions we hold involve an extended conversation between the writer and consultant. This necessarily requires writers to take an active role and to be engaged in the session. In our experience, those who come only to avoid an in-class peer review or to receive extra points are often less likely to actively participate in this process or to seriously consider revising their drafts. This not only makes the session less effective than it could be, but also results in making the appointment slot unavailable to those writers who do want to participate fully in the process. Since we serve the entire campus community—undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff—we need to allocate our resources wisely, working with those who truly desire to improve their writing.

In addition, sending writers to the Workshop rather than having them participate in peer review denies them the opportunity to give, as well as receive, constructive criticism, a skill they will definitely need to hone regardless of the career they ultimately pursue as professionals. The peer review process differs in significant ways from a session with one of our consultants, primarily because the role of a consultant is not the same as that of a peer. At the same time, we highly encourage writers to visit the Workshop as they prepare for peer review or as they consider comments from a peer during the revision process.

Please note that we're also happy to work with faculty members who have a special request of the Workshop for a particular assignment or want to make an assignment more effective. Please contact Jill Jenson to discuss these appointments. We want to help students meet your writing goals for them as well as the goals they set for themselves.

(See also "Will I be notified if one of my students sees a consultant in the Writers' Workshop?")

What kind of help can students expect to get during a visit to the Writers' Workshop?

Our writing consultants will work with any undergraduate or graduate student at any level skill level and at any stage in the writing process. While we do not proofread or edit papers, we are happy to help writers learn strategies for finding and correcting their own errors. Our primary focus is on larger concerns, such as organization, structure, cohesion, development, coherence, and so on. We have conversations with writers in order to develop their skills, rather than doing the work for them. Consultants will help students try to understand writing assignments or comments made on written work, but they do not offer their opinions of the assignment itself or the instructor who gave it. Likewise, grades are strictly between the students and their instructors. We do not predict the grade a writer might get nor do we comment on a grade the writer has received.

How do I help students prepare for a session with a writing consultant?

Remind your students to bring the assignment sheet or whatever guidelines they were given for the course requirement they are writing. If not an assignment, they should bring other relevant materials; for example, they should bring the job posting if they want to discuss a cover letter for a job application. They should also bring a hard copy of whatever they have written so far, even if it is a very early draft. Finally, encourage students to read about consultants' backgrounds in order to find a good fit for the type of writing they are doing.

You can also send students to our page featuring information on what they can expect from a session.

Will I be notified if one of my students sees a consultant in the Writers' Workshop?

While the Writers' Workshop does not send notifications of student visits to faculty or staff, a summary of each session is sent via email to any person who works with a consultant. Students may choose to share that summary with their instructors or supervisors, but that is their responsibility. Due to privacy concerns, we cannot sign a document verifying a student's visit.

If I assign a take-home exam, will writing consultants help my students with the exam?

Individual faculty members must decide whether to allow students to see a writing consultant to discuss a take-home exam. Such permission must be given in writing on the exam instructions, on a syllabus, or through a separate document. If you plan to allow students to seek help with a take-home exam, it's best to notify the Writers' Workshop at writwork@d.umn.edu or Jill Jenson well before the exam date.

Can I see a consultant for my own writing--grants, articles for publication, etc.?
Yes, the Writers' Workshop is open to all staff, faculty, and students on campus.