frequently asked questions
1. What should I bring to my Writing Centre appointment?
Please bring the assignment sheet/description (if you have one) and your assignment printed double-spaced on paper. Your assignment can be in any state: an outline, notes, partial draft, full draft, etc.
2. Will the Writing Centre read work on my laptop or print my assignment?
No. We need to work with your assignment on paper. Please print it double-spaced and bring it with you.
3. What happens during a Writing Centre appointment?
We’re here to help you learn whatever you need to learn to write better assignments. Here’s how you might use an appointment:
- Bring an assignment sheet to discuss how to choose your topic and how to approach it, or to brainstorm ideas.
- Bring an outline, or notes that we can help you use to create an outline.
- Bring a partial or full draft of your assignment. We’ll then show you which aspects are good and which you could improve, and we’ll deal with the most important things first.
When you leave your Writing Centre appointment, you should feel good about having learned a little more about writing and about the prospect of improving your abilities still further in future appointments.
4. How can Writing Centre instructors know how to help me with the content of my paper? What if I need help with ideas more than writing?
It’s actually an advantage to have to explain ideas clearly to someone who is not an expert in your field. The Writing Centre instructors are all generalists with many years’ experience teaching different forms of writing and working with undergraduates on assignments in all possible fields.
The writing instructor can help you brainstorm and generate further questions about your subject. He or she can also point out places in a draft where something seems to be missing, whether it is background information, evidence, or a logical step in an argument.
5. How can the writing instructor fix my entire paper in 50 minutes?
We’re here to help you understand how writing works, to help you fix the problems in your paper and avoid or spot problems in the future. We’ll show you how, not just talk about it in general terms. The Writing Centre is a teaching service, not an editing service. We use your own work as teaching material. We can’t teach you everything at once, so if you want to learn as much as possible, you should make use of the service whenever you can.
6. Can the Writing Centre help me better understand the readings my assignment is based on?
Yes. We can show you how to approach reading and note taking. Just bring in the material you are working with.
7. What if I’m getting good grades? Can the Writing Centre still help me?
Absolutely. We help students at all levels of ability. We’ll adjust the level of instruction upward as you progress, and as you undertake more and more advanced assignments. For example, a student who consistently gets B+ and thinks that additional improvement in writing may move his or her marks into the A-range can get instruction on an advanced level. Even students who often get A’s on assignments may find it helpful to consult a writing instructor during the planning and writing process and get feedback on finished drafts. Or they may simply wish to learn a little more about fine points of style.
8. Does the Writing Centre help with graduate school applications?
Yes. Innis College students may book up to one appointment per tem for help on an application letter or admissions statement.
9. Can I come to the Writing Centre more than once for the same assignment?
Yes. You can come at various stages of your work on an assignment: for example, when you first get the assignment, or when you have made an outline. Then you can come back with a draft or part of a draft. We may not give you more than one appointment at the draft stage; that will depend on the length of the paper and the number of opportunities you have had to get writing instruction.
10. Is there a limit on the number of appointments I can have?
Yes. Due to a high demand for our services and limited resources, students are limited to one appointment per week and twelve per term.
Innis College students may book up to one appointment per term for help on an application letter or admissions statement.
11. Does the Writing Centre have any influence on the grade assigned to my work by the course instructor or TA?
Definitely not! All appointments are confidential. Only you and the writing instructors can read the notes we keep about your appointments. Unless we have your permission, we will not reveal anything to your course instructors if they ask us about you, aside from confirming that you have indeed used the Writing Centre. We are your partners in your efforts to do well on your written assignments.
12. What should I do if I’m ill? Will I be penalized for cancelling my appointment?
If you are ill, please cancel your appointment online. If you have to cancel within 24 hours of your appointment, please email the centre Director to let them know that you have had to cancel due to illness. That way, you will not be penalized. Make sure to book another appointment for a day when you judge you’ll feel healthy again.
If you arrive for an appointment with a fever or are sneezing or coughing, the writing instructor will have to turn you away. If you need an extension of the due date for an assignment, contact your course instructor or TA and explain that you are ill and that you still want to use a Writing Centre appointment for your assignment.
Some Helpful Links
- Writing and Rhetoric Program at Innis College
- Writing at the University of Toronto: for handouts on all aspects of the writing process, including citations and grammar.
- English Language Development (ELD), University of Toronto at Scarborough: very useful for resources and interactive activities and tests to help students practice their English. Connects students to many workshops offered on campus.
- OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab: provides hundreds of useful resources as well as interactive writing exercises for all students.
- Guide to Grammar and Writing: valuable for online quizzes to practice and correct grammar and improve vocabulary.