Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Required vs Rewarded?

for Faculty, mainly!

by Lindsay Hartman '13


At some schools, Writing Centers struggle with the unfortunate stereotype of the fix-it shop for poor writers. While there are certainly some writers who need more help than others, we’re glad the F&M community recognizes our Writing Center as a place where writers of all levels visit and benefit from sessions. As you consider sending your students our direction using either of the following approaches, we encourage you to frame the experience as positively as possible. 



·      You can ensure that even the most reluctant students will make it into the  Center.

·      You are able to help students realize that the Writing Center is a valuable resource that can serve them at any point in their process.


·      Reluctant students may resist making a session productive.

·      Our schedule tends to fill up fast, especially in the fall, making it difficult to get an appointment. 

How to make the best of it

·      Encourage students to make appointments early—they can book up to two weeks in advance.

·      Make sure students know that they have to participate fully in the session in order to get credit.

·      Feel free to join a Writing Center staff meeting to talk about the assignment and let the tutors know what you would like your students to focus on during their sessions.



·      Students are more likely to come to the Center if they know it will positively affect their grade.

·      Because the incentive of extra credit leaves the choice of whether or not to visit the Writing Center in the hands of the student, it can lead to stronger motivation and less tension than required visits.


·      Some of the students who might benefit the most from the Writing Center may still not be motivated enough by the incentive of an improved grade.

·       Also, many students may still view their visit to the Writing Center as a task to check off their list, rather than an opportunity to really learn. 

How to make the most of it

·      Emphasize that this opportunity will benefit students throughout their college experience, not just on this assignment.

·      It can be especially useful if the extra credit is connected to improvement in a particular area, or at least a genuinely productive session.

·      It’s important to be clear about how the extra credit will be applied—for example, whether points will be added to the student’s class participation grade or to his or her final paper grade. 

  • Lyndsay Hartman