Many writing consultants hold walk-in hours at the Writing Center during their weekly shifts, while others are assigned to specific courses and instructors. When assigned to a course, the writing consultant's main responsibility is to provide appropriate written commentary on a student's rough draft and to meet the student in a brief writing conference to provide feedback and helpful writing tips.

Faculty should expect that Writing Consultants will:

  • Meet with the instructor early in the semester to establish guidelines for assigning papers and helping students, as defined by the instructor and the goals of WAC at University of Richmond.
  • Introduce themselves to the instructor's class members early in the semester, providing students a positive model of peer scholarship and representing the WAC program effectively.
  • Provide appropriate and effective written commentary on any rough drafts or other preliminary work assigned by the instructor, keeping within the guidelines established earlier in the semester.
  • Begin assisting writers, unless told otherwise by the faculty member, with global concerns (answering the assignment, finding a focus and/or governing claim, supporting arguments). When looking at structural and sentence-level concerns, Consultants are trained to look for patterns of error, to give instruction, and to avoid fixing every mistake. Their jobs are to help writers learn to self-correct and proofread on their own.
  • Provide students an opportunity to schedule appointments for individual writing conferences.
  • Attend all individual writing conferences at the designated time and at the designated location.
  • Return annotated rough drafts to students in a timely fashion (i.e., within one week).
  • Remain in regular contact with the Writing Center Director.
  • Remain in regular contact with the instructor, reporting any problems or unusual events immediately. This includes late rough drafts and other student actions that seem questionable or outside the instructor's assignment guidelines.
  • Check e-mail frequently and offer students a sign-up sheet or other accessible scheduling method to allow both the students and instructor to know where a consultant should be for appointments.

How faculty can help Writing Consultants do their best work:

  • Communicate expectations for timeliness, deadlines, and tasks to consultants right away.
  • Explain the rationale for the consultant’s presence in class as a trained reader for all writers, not merely for those needing special help.
  • Collect preliminary work for the consultant to evaluate and give consultants at least a week to meet all writers, who then should be given a few more days before final revisions are due.
  • Require that all writers see the consultant at least twice during the term, and penalize writers who skip or who turn in paltry drafts (e.g., a +/- letter grade on the project).
  • Explain any “pet peeves” so writers will understand what they need to avoid or to do well. My “peeves” appear as a link from my syllabi.
  • Arrange a reporting method. I don't recommend individual reports, as you receive from the Center; instead, I ask my consultants to sum up, in one e-mail, notes about the meetings with students and observations about their drafts.
  • Contact the Writing Center director if a consultant is not meeting expectations, fails to respond to you or your students, or has helped a student who needs assistance beyond what the consultant should provide.