Students come to the FRCC Writing Centers with questions about their writing assignments. But sometimes we may ask a few questions of our own. It may be surprising, or even frustrating to be faced with questions when you are looking for answers. Our intention with our questions, however, is to be helpful and encourage you to see the bigger picture of your writing.
When to Seek Help from the Writing Center
The writing center helps students with specific questions or problems on particular assignments. When you get stuck with something like how to start an introduction or how to work research into an writing assignment, writing centers can help you get unstuck.
We strive to guide you in the writing process, empowering you to write more effectively on your own in the future. We hope that our guidance will not only help with a particular assignment, but it will also help in future writing situations.
How to Benefit from a Writing Session
To get the most out of a writing center session, we encourage you to:
- Think through questions and concerns about the assignment in advance of your session.
- Reflect on your writing and have some idea of where you might need direction.
- Be open to a few questions about your writing.
- Be willing to rework parts of your assignment.
Writing is a Messy Process
Often it is a circular and iterative process even though the end product is a document that the reader experiences in a linear form. Writers circle back and rework parts many times. Producing clear writing is very messy. It takes time and practice. Writing center instructors know this and are glad to guide you through the process.
A Need to Shift Focus
You may have particular questions, but as writing instructors we know there may be other issues with the essay that should be addressed first, before delving into the problems that concern you.
I can think of a few instances where I was helping students who wanted help with grammar. But as I read through the essay, I could see that there were problems with the content not fulfilling the expectations of the assignment. So I refocused our session to point out these problems because it doesn’t make sense to spend time correcting language in an essay when that language will be taken out because it does not fit the requirements of the assignment.
So while we are here to help students with their questions, we may steer the conversation toward other concerns beyond what the writer asks when we feel there may be other issues at hand that need the writer’s attention.
The Socratic Method
Asking students questions to encourage them to think and develop judgment is not a new technique. It was the ancient Greek philosopher and teacher Socrates who engaged his students with challenging questions and helped them to develop sound thinking. We hope to do the same.