FAQs for Faculty

By visiting this section, you show your engagement with and commitment to your students' writing success. Please know that our assistance is not intended to replace classroom instruction of an assignment and will neither undermine your authority nor the university's policy on academic integrity. The latter prevents us from functioning as merely a "quick-fix" editing and proofreading service, so please clarify this to your students. Thank you for your interest.

Why does Lamar University have a Writing Center?

The primary purpose of the Writing Center is to enhance and reinforce the campus emphasis on writing instruction by working individually with students who are planning, writing, revising and editing papers. Our consultants assist students in the following ways:

  • Focusing on what they want to accomplish in a piece of writing
  • Reading their own drafts with a more discerning and critical eye
  • Learning strategies for addressing a variety of writing issues

Who can use the Writing Center?

Any student, staff or faculty member associated with Lamar University is welcome to use the Writing Center for any writing project. However, please note that our consultants cannot assist with writing in any language besides English. 

Who is on the staff?

The Writing Center staff includes writing consultants who are undergraduate and graduate students in English and other disciplines. Jennifer Ravey, an instructor in the Department of English and Modern Languages, has directed the Writing Center since 2013. 

Can I require my whole class to bring their papers to the Writing Center?

Please do not. This creates a traffic jam in the Writing Center and may prevent other students who are serious about improving their writing from getting the help they seek on their own. We know from experience that when students get a blanket requirement of this kind, most of them wait until the last minute and then come in simply to get us to verify their presence; they don't plan to make any substantial changes in their papers. 

How can I encourage my students to use the Writing Center?

  • Request a class visit or workshop by emailing Jennifer Ravey at jhravey@lamar.edu.
  • Include a description of the Writing Center on your syllabus or direct them to our website.
  • Ask students who have visited the Writing Center to tell others in the class about their experiences.
  • Tell your class about former students whose writing improved as a result of their visits to the Writing Center.
  • Talk to your students about your own writing process and about the value of having a trusted reader who gives you honest, constructive feedback. It's good for students to know that even experienced writers need good readers. 
  • Extra credit points on a paper grade can be the most certain means of ensuring that your students seek our assistance. Below are alternatives to extra credit points:
    • a participation or writing process grade
    • an extra day to turn in the paper
    • a degree of forgivable grading

Will I know if one of my students uses the Writing Center?

A student may choose to inform you by requesting the Writing Center send a confirmation of the visit via email. Unfortunately, students occasionally tell their professors they went to the Writing Center when they did not. If you suspect that is the case, email jhravey@lamar.edu or call Jennifer Ravey at 8587. 

Can I suggest that my students bring their papers to the Writing Center for proofreading?

We prefer you suggest they visit the Writing Center to learn how to recognize and correct their errors. Our consultants will not edit or proofread for students, but are happy to guide students through the process. 

Can the Writing Center help students who are struggling because English is not their native language?

Yes, we are happy to contribute to their process of learning to write in English, but both they and you should understand that we will not be rewriting their sentences or correcting every error in their writing. Writing in another language is a difficult and sometimes frustrating process that takes time, practice and persistence. Those who are willing, as many are, to come in repeatedly and to work hard between sessions to apply what they learn in the Writing Center will gradually make progress, but please do not expect instant results.

Will the Writing Center help the students to document their sources properly?

Yes. If students keep track of all the necessary bibliographical information, and if they know which system of documentation they are supposed to use, we will help them find information about citing particular sources.

As we are reading papers with students, we also try to be alert to sudden shifts in style that can indicate plagiarism, and we provide instruction in the proper use and crediting of sources, including the difference between legitimate paraphrase and plagiarism. However, we cannot guarantee that we will always notice violations or that students will correct them.

If you would like to arrange a style workshop for your class, please call Jennifer Ravey at 8587 or email jhravey@lamar.edu for more information.

Can a student drop off a paper and pick it up later?

No, we do not work on student papers in their absence. During a session, both the student and the consultant will be asking and answering questions – reading the paper together and engaging in a dialogue about what is working and what is not, looking for solutions to problems and exploring different options together. Please refer to the "What to Expect" section of the home page for more information about what occurs in a Writing Center conference.

What about group papers?

We are happy to help with group papers if all the group members come in with the same general concern, such as idea development, grammar and punctuation or documentation. Delegating one group member to bring the paper to the center defeats our purpose of trying to work with students to improve their writing.

I've sometimes had students visit the Writing Center and still turn in poorly written papers? How do you explain that?

Not every Writing Center session is an unqualified success. We are often frustrated at not being able to help students as much as we would like to. Students at many different levels of writing ability and experience come to the Writing Center at different stages of their writing processes. Frequently, we see papers with more writing problems than we can address in a single session. As much as we might like to "take over" a student's paper and "fix" it, that is not our mission. It would neither help the student to improve as a writer, nor be consistent with the Academic Integrity Policy.

We are often aware that even if students use what they learn to improve their writing, some issues will still remain. In those cases, we encourage students to come back for additional sessions.

How do I know that the Writing Center's evaluation of a student's paper won't contradict mine?

Under no circumstances will a Writing Center consultant evaluate a student's paper. Students are informed that they are ultimately responsible for the decisions made about their papers, and only their instructors have the authority to evaluate them.

When they ask us to evaluate their writing, we try instead to have them identify strengths and weakness in relation to their intentions or to the criteria given as part of the assignment.