As part of the Thompson Writing Program, the Writing Studio promotes excellence in writing by providing tutoring services for the Duke community. The Studio is staffed by faculty, writing professionals, and graduate students—all from a variety of disciplines. Tutors participate in ongoing training and share a strong interest in supporting students in their writing. The Studio works with all levels of writers, from first-year students to faculty, in a wide range of disciplines. Here, we highlight three ways in which faculty can utilize Writing Studio services.
One-on-One Conferences with Students
The primary way we serve writers is through one-on-one 50-minute conferences, during which writers converse with a consultant about any current writing project. During these sessions, we assist with all types of writing, including academic essays, memos, reports, honors theses, creative writing, and personal statements. We also welcome writers at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming and researching to drafting, revising, and polishing a final draft.
We encourage faculty to recommend our services to students, but we prefer that faculty do not require students to visit the Studio. A required visit limits the appointments available to other students and also tends to counter the voluntary, collaborative spirit of our conferences. We also welcome faculty to make appointments with the Writing Studio for their own writing. Students and other members of the Duke community can easily make an appointment online via the TWP Writing Studio website.
At the conclusion of each conference, consultants, often in collaboration with the student, write a conference summary that describes the highlights of the session. Generally, these are sent via email to the student’s professor. We hope these create opportunities for faculty to discover more about their students as writers. If faculty members have additional questions about what happened during a session, we encourage them to ask the writer.
Workshops in Classrooms
The TWP Writing Studio also offers regular group workshops on various aspects of the writing process. Faculty are welcome to request in-class workshops and tutors can adapt or create workshops to fit the particular needs of the course. Generally, we prefer that requests for in-class workshops be submitted at least three weeks in advance. Please contact Eliana Schonberg to make these arrangements.
We also encourage faculty to explore the “Resources for Students” section of the TWP Writing Studio website. These resources are not just for students; faculty often draw on these resources when crafting writing assignments and discussing writing in their classes. The Resources section offers links to a wide range of online materials related to academic writing. In addition to material that covers the writing process, we offer extensive guides to writing in different disciplines and writing in a range of genres. The site also includes a section devoted to ESL/EFL resources, which addresses everything from ESL-specific grammar and vocabulary concerns to cultural perspectives on plagiarism. Some of our most popular handouts include:
- Developing a Central Claim: This handout guides writers through the process of turning initial ideas into a strong central claim. In addition to offering tips on crafting a claim, it also invites writers to evaluate their claim.
- Roadmaps: This handout describes how the concept of a “roadmap” can strengthen academic writing. It prompts writers to consider their point of origin as well as their destination and make their path apparent to their reader.
- Paragraphing: The MEAL Plan: This handout details key elements of a typical paragraph in academic prose. The acronym “MEAL” helps writers remember to include the paragraph’s main idea, evidence, analysis, and a link to the project’s primary claim(s).
- Reverse Outlining: This handout explains the process of reverse outlining, highlighting its effectiveness for evaluating a draft’s organization.
- Clarity and Conciseness: This handout outlines practical methods for eliminating unnecessary words and phrases from sentences and choosing the most straightforward verb forms.
- Quotations: Part of our “Working with Sources” section, this handout helps writers determine when to quote and when to paraphrase. It also explains the basic mechanics of incorporating quotations.
- Response/Reaction Paper: This handout highlights the important preliminary work that must be done before one writes a response paper. It includes a series of questions that prompt the writer to examine texts critically.