Become a Tutor

What It Takes to Become a Writing Commons Tutor

To become tutors, students must have strong interpersonal communication skills, an ability to discuss writing in progress and must participate in our tutor education program. To succeed and advance, tutors must continue their professional development throughout their semesters of employment. 
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Reflective Writers

Successful tutors are reflective and articulate about their own writing processes. They are able to explain these processes to others. Prospective tutors must be able to communicate with diverse audiences about writing.

People Skills

Tutors must be excellent listeners. They must exhibit an unusual level of patience, persistence and flexibility in order to meet the needs of Writing Commons users. They must demonstrate teamwork, professionalism and leadership to succeed in our highly collaborative work environment.

Preparation

Students who wish to become Writing Commons tutors must train through coursework in the department of English at Kent State University, or must have successfully served as writing center tutors at another accredited college or university writing center. We offer three pathways to joining the tutoring staff.


Traditional: 3-Credit-Hour Upper Division English Course

This training method is the "fast track, leading to a position as a fully qualified writing center tutor. Undergraduate students who wish to be considered for positions as fully qualified Writing Commons tutors must successfully complete a 3-credit-hour online course, ENG 41194, Tutoring of Writing, during or before their first semester of employment as trainees. This course may be taken for honors or regular credit. At the discretion of the instructor of the course (the Director of the Writing Commons), students may work in the Writing Commons while enrolled in the course. The course provides:

  • A complete introduction to Writing Center Studies and to tutoring theory and history.
  • A complete guide to traditional writing tutoring pedagogy.
  • Practical experience coaching writers across the curriculum.
  • Exposure to identity and power issues in writing center work.
  • Theory and practice with synchronous and asynchronous online tutoring methods.
  • Introduction to coaching multi modal composers.
  • Research methods in Writing Center Studies.
  • Current issues in Writing Center Studies.
  • Publication and presentation opportunities.
  • Practice coaching new tutors.

This upper-division English course is an ideal choice for students in English, education, special education, language teaching or any of the helping professions, and it is excellent preparation for graduate study in any field. The course is a hybrid online course, requiring participation in hands-on activities, as well as completion of asynchronous online content. Registration is by permit through the director/instructor. Continued employment in the Writing Commons requires a final grade of B or better in ENG 41194, as well as recommendations from the Writing Commons senior staff and the approval of the director. 

ENG 41194 counts as an upper-division English elective, counts toward English Major "writing and language study" requirements, and counts for the writing minor.  It also counts toward experiential learning and diversity university requirements.

Individual Investigation English Course for 1 or 2 Credit Hours

This training method is a "slow and steady" approach to learning the field. Undergraduate students who wish to train to become tutors, but who may not feel ready for upper-division or honors coursework in Writing Center Studies may enroll, with permission from the director/instructor, in 1 or 2 credits of Individual Investigation to learn the basics of Writing Center practice. This method of introduction to the Writing Commons is ideal for students who for whatever reason may want to take a slower, more incremental approach to learning the field of writing center studies. To earn additional certifications, additional coursework or on the job training is required for students who train under the Individual Investigation method. The Individual Investigation method provides:

  • A basic introduction to in-person tutoring methods.
  • Practical experience coaching writers in person across the curriculum.

Positions for Previously-Trained Writing Center Tutors

Some semesters, as demand for tutoring and budget concerns dictate, we are able to advertise for previously trained writing center tutors. For a detailed job description and information on minimum job qualifications, log in to Handshake and search for the "Experienced Writing Tutor" position. This position is ideal for graduate students who worked in a writing center as undergraduates, or for transfer students who worked in a writing center at another accredited college or university campus.

Writing Commons Apprenticeship Program

In collaboration with CommUNITY Lab, students in the cohort program may work at the Writing Commons for a semester as an apprentice.  After the semester of apprenticeship, continued employment is an option (details forthcoming).

Graduate Student Tutors

Graduate Tutor options, requirements, training opportunities are being developed (details forthcoming).

Ongoing Professional Development

Tutors are expected to develop themselves professionally throughout their semesters of employment. Professional development includes required weekly staff meetings and in-service training days, online tutoring training, continued coursework, presenting research at professional conferences, working on outreach projects and developing resources. 

Meetings and In-Service Days

Tutors attend staff meetings and in-service training days each semester as their minimal professional development requirement.

Online Writing Lab Preparation Course

Tutors who have not successfully completed ENG 41194 undergo intensive training to learn response techniques for working with writers asynchronously online in a 1-credit hour course. Once certified for asynchronous online tutoring, tutors are considered senior tutors and may assist in training new tutors.

Ongoing Professional Development Courses

We offer individual investigations on nine different writing center issues as well as a "build your own" option for tutors who want to develop their own course of study.  Topics range from plagiarism prevention to advanced online tutoring, to ESL writers, research and conference preparation and more. The course, ENG 41096, is registration by permit only. Through the Department of English and the Honors College, Writing Commons Tutors may participate in ongoing research projects as an assistant for course credit, or may initiate their own research projects for course credit.

Projects

Tutors develop tutoring resources for the Writing Commons based on their interests and expertise, and on the needs of the campus community. Past projects have included web design, public relations, mini-lessons, handouts, promotional materials, event planning and developing training materials.

Workshops

Tutors create and facilitate 50-minute writing workshops based on their individual areas of expertise. Past workshop topics include science writing, RefWorks, resumes and cover letters, paraphrasing, plagiarism, understanding assignments, giving feedback, outlining, commas, wordiness and organizing.

Outreach and Community Service

All tutors participate in Writing Commons Outreach as classroom Ambassadors or as Event Representatives. Tutors help develop and administer service projects in the community, such as our "Writers in Residence" program at local high schools. Tutors facilitate class visits and tours, and help promote and develop the Writing Commons. Past projects include book discussion groups, display cases, posters, group services, satellite tutoring locations, creative writing groups and more.

Conference Participation and Support

Tutors regularly make presentations at a number of professional conferences, including the Northeast Ohio Writing Centers Association, the East Central Writing Centers Association, the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, and the International Writing Centers Association Conference. Writing Commons Donor Funding is available to support tutor conference participation.

Awards and Honors

Undergraduate tutors in good standing at the Writing Commons are eligble to be nominated for the John C. Tamplin Award for Writing Center Work each spring. Recipients receive an award stipend and are honored at the annual English Department Awards Ceremony.

On-the-Job Management Training

We offer paid professional development for tutors who want to become student managers by training senior tutors to manage shifts by operating the reception desk


Think you have what it takes? Download and complete the Trainee Application if you have never worked in a Writing Center or the Experienced Tutor Application, if you have worked in a Writing Center previously. Email your application materials to jrsmith3@kent.edu.

Contact Writing Commons Director Jeanne R. Smith (jrsmith3@kent.edu) for more information on becoming a tutor.