The University of Houston Writing Center’s most common interaction with students is through individual writing consultations, however we support the teaching of writing across campus in a variety of ways. Faculty and staff interested in partnering with the Writing Center may find a particular support model best fits your needs, and some projects will combine various types of interactions.
Most of our support models focus on scaffolded peer interactions as key to student writers’ development. Our trained writing consultants provide students with a level of writing expertise, while also offering students an engaging partner in dialogue to support their understanding of an instructor’s requirements. When par tnering with faculty, the Writing Center trains consultants according to the specific type of writing that an instructor requires, aligning the instructor’s expectations more closely with those of a writing consultant.
To establish a partnership, you will meet with Writing Center staff to discuss the specific guidelines and expectations for the writing your students are doing. The Writing Center staff will then ensure that writing consultants are familiar with these expectations and prepared to discuss specifics of the assignment with students. While this training does not replace the student’s responsibility to understand class guidelines and assignments, it can help consultants better meet the needs of each individual student if they are familiar with the instructor’s articulated expectations. These services are available to instructors teaching face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses and can be administered in a variety of formats to meet the needs and requirements of the course.
In order to provide a better understanding of what we offer, we have included descriptions of the ways that we often interact with students. To best identify how our support might fit with a specific class, program, or department, we encourage interested faculty and staff to contact us or to reach out directly to a staff member to set up a meeting to discuss your needs.
Please click the categories below to see a description of each model.
While the Writing Center’s general services are always available to UH students, individual consultations for specific courses are also available if you would like to require your students to meet with a consultant once or several times throughout the semester to work on an assignment. Partnering with the Writing Center allows us to train our consultants for the expectations of your class, resulting in a more in-depth consultation experience tailored to a specific genre or writing assignment, in addition to ensuring that we can provide availability for your students. These consultations can occur face-to-face or online, and students can be given proof of attendance forms.
Writing groups offer students the opportunity to meet with small groups of their peers to work through their research and writing at different stages of the writing process. During these interactions, students can read and respond to one another’s writing, offer advice, help generate ideas, and ask questions. Group discussions are often facilitated by a writing consultant who guides the conversation to make sure it remains focused on the students’ writing, clarifies questions about writing, and, when needed, monitors participation. These interactions can occur during or outside of class meeting times.
Having writing support embedded into an instructor’s course allows for direct communication between faculty and writing consultants, and allows for flexible interactions that can include planned individual consultations or more spontaneous feedback within a class. Course embedded writing consultants or Teaching Assistants working as supplemental instructors attend class periodically to gain a better understanding of course content and to provide support for writing instruction. They can then meet with students individually or in groups outside of the scheduled class time to help students apply the instruction they’ve received.
Course embedded support requires significant advanced planning from instructors and clear communication to students regarding writing consultants’ role, however it can provide informed support that assists students in making key connections between course material and their individual writing processes.
If you are interested in connecting your students to Writing Center services you can request an in-class presentation at any time during the semester. A Writing Center staff member can present information to students about the services the Writing Center provides and how to make appointments, or a specific topic can be requested and we can tailor a presentation to the subject matter and timeframe.
The Writing Center offers workshops on a number of topics, and these can be customized to the needs of a specific class or program. Workshops provide a group setting for students to focus on a specific type of writing or writing strategy and to then put that knowledge into practice as they interact with our writing consultants and each other. Past topics include personal statements, literature reviews, grant writing, and prioritizing revision, among others.
Throughout the academic year the Writing Center offers events focused on specific groups of students to make access to writing support more accessible. During the busy end of the semester, Write Night offers undergraduate students extended hours, snacks, caffeine and drop-in consultations in order to help students avoid procrastination and work on significant portions of their writing before finals. For graduate students, the UH Writing Center has partnered with the Graduate School to offer Dissertation Accelerators that provide an undisturbed space for writing with productivity tips and encouragement from faculty, Writing Center staff, and fellow attendees.
The Writing Center also provides information on our services at departmental and programmatic events across campus, and is happy to assist with events such as orientations and resource fairs, or to tailor an event to specific groups of students, upon request.
Well-designed writing assignments can increase student understanding and investment, resulting in higher quality writing. For faculty seeking assistance in designing writing assignments, Writing Center staff are available to consult with faculty to ensure that expectations and evaluation criteria are being effectively conveyed to students.
Writing assignments also need to fit within the arc of a course that focuses on subject matter within its discipline. We are pleased to meet with faculty to discuss how writing assignments can be integrated into your course efficiently. Writing can be effectively taught when students conscientiously engage with their writing processes, but leading them through each step, from selecting a topic, to revising multiple drafts, can take valuable time away from your course content. Writing Center staff can assist you in developing writing assignments for your course that scaffold steps in the writing process into your existing curriculum and ensure that students are attuned to the choices they make as they write.
Additionally, rubrics can help students better understand what they should be accomplishing and aid instructors in better assessing student progress. Faculty are also welcome to consult with Writing Center staff to develop rubrics which formalize and clearly communicate objectives and expectations for their writing assignments.
The Writing Center can help faculty develop writing assessments that are beneficial to both faculty and students, giving each valuable insight into the quality of the writing and the effectiveness of writing instruction. These assessments can enable faculty to determine their students’ varying levels of writing proficiency, especially when students come from diverse educational backgrounds and experiences. By gathering valuable information from writing assessments, faculty can gain an understanding of their students’ writing capabilities and develop strategies to address deficits.
The Writing Center has developed course-specific, program-tailored, and college-wide writing assessments of a variety of UH students at both the undergraduate and graduate level to provide students specific feedback on their writing and to help faculty understand students’ writing needs and development.
Writing Center staff supports the teaching of writing across campus and is happy to provide guidance in best practices to programs and departments interested in developing their pedagogy. The Writing Center has offered faculty and Teaching Assistant professional development on topics such as providing effective feedback, grading written assignments efficiently, and teaching writing in a fully online course. Writing Center staff also oversees the training of first-year Teaching Assistants in the Department of English in preparation for their role as writing instructors. This year-long training includes hands-on experience working with student writers, as well as guidance in creating appealing and effective writing assignments, scaffolding major projects into multiple steps, and teaching revision as part of students’ writing processes, among many other topics.
Professional development can be adapted to the specific needs of the faculty, TA’s, or staff of a department, and we are available to provide a valuable perspective on the teaching of writing to faculty across disciplines in order to maximize the benefit that their teaching provides to students’ writing.