What is a Guided Tutorial in Writing? 

You may informally refer your students to work one-on-one with a tutor in the Writing Center at any time. However, sometimes students benefit from a “formal” referral. If, during the semester, you determine a student’s weak writing skills are impacting their overall course performance, you may formally refer them to the Writing Center — either to work on a one-time assignment or for ongoing support throughout the semester.

During a Guided Tutorial, students work in the Writing Center with a professional writing tutor on specific writing skills or particular writing assignments. The primary purpose of the Guided Tutorial is to help students improve their writing while they are in your class and, thus, improve their potential to succeed in your course. 

A Guided Tutorial focuses on the specific skills you feel the student needs to work on, as communicated to the Writing Center and the assigned Writing Center tutor. 

In other words, the program is “guided” because you determine the nature of the assignments and the skills the students will work on, and it is “tutorial” because students will be expected to work with a Writing Center instructor one-on-one for several weeks.  

For example, you may determine the student should work with the Writing Center on revising an assignment or on all the stages of one or more future assignments  — from planning to drafting to revising. You can also specify the skills the student needs to work on, such as paragraph development, sentence structure, or citing sources;  the number of revisions required; and the number of tutoring sessions you expect the student to attend. Additionally, you can assign the consequences of completing or not completing the Guided Tutorial, such as failure of an assignment or the course.

Writing Center instructors are happy to work with you on planning and shaping the Guided Tutorial plan for your students.

How does the Guided Tutorial in Writing differ from the end-of-semester “U” in Writing? 

Unlike the “U” in Writing, the Guided Tutorial does not appear on a student’s academic transcript. However, it’s still a formal referral and an agreement between you, the student, and the Writing Center. 

Further, it allows students to work on improving their skills while still in your class rather than after the term has ended. Some students and instructors feel the “U” happens too late (after the semester ends) and does not allow students to improve and apply skills during their current classes.

You can also guide the process more directly than with an end-of-semester “U.”  

When and in what circumstances should I consider assigning a Guided Tutorial in writing?

You can refer students for Guided Tutorials any time during the semester. But the earlier after you notice problems with a student’s writing, the better. You might consider referring a student for a Guided Tutorial if you assess your student’s writing early in the semester and are concerned they might not pass the class or earn an “R” unless their writing skills improve or if you think you may be likely to assign a student a “U” in Writing at the end of the term.

A Guided Tutorial could be helpful for students whose skills need to improve in one or more major areas of writing — such as documenting sources or developing sentence-level skills — or who have more global, large-scale writing problems. 

The primary considerations are that the student is in danger of not passing, might not earn an “R,” or might be likely to receive a “U” in Writing at the end of the term unless the student’s skills improve.

What are some of the benefits of assigning a Guided Tutorial?

The Guided Tutorial allows you to identify specific writing goals and outcomes for students so they can develop the skills they need to succeed in your course and other courses.  

Professors can assign a Guided Tutorial to encourage students to work on their writing skills during the semester when attention to their writing will have the most significant impact on their written assignments for that term. 

The Guided Tutorial gives students a better chance of success on written assignments and increases the likelihood of earning “R” credit or passing the course.

What happens after I assign a Guided Tutorial?

We will send follow-up emails to the student and let you know if they have come to work with us. You can contact the Writing Center to check on a student’s progress at any time. We will let you know when the student has completed your agreed-upon conditions and share our assessment of their improvement.

However, ultimately you establish the terms of completion and then determine if a student has made sufficient improvement in their writing skills and fulfilled the conditions you agreed on. 

We have a “paper” referral form for your use that includes a space for signatures and dates so you can establish clear parameters. 

Based on your re-assessment of their skills and a review of their participation in tutoring, you decide the effect on grades on assignments and whether to give students a “U” at the end of the term or grant “R” credit. 

What can I do if students have notable writing problems but are insufficient to merit a Guided Tutorial?

You can simply encourage students to visit the Writing Center, request they visit in a note on an assignment, or let them know you expect them to visit and notify us by sending an email to Sarah Graves at segraves@owu.edu or the Writing Center at writingcenter@owu.edu

You may contact us to see if a student you have referred has come to the Writing Center, but we typically don’t monitor and follow up on the progress of those who are informally encouraged to visit unless you ask us to do so.

Can I still assign an end-of-semester “U” to a student I referred for a Guided Tutorial?

Yes. If a student’s writing skills have not improved sufficiently and could still benefit from regular instruction, or if the student did not follow through with the terms you established for the Guided Tutorial, you can assign an end-of-semester “U” in writing along with the final course grade.

How do I refer a student for a Guided Tutorial?

1. Discuss the Guided Tutorial with the student you plan to refer to the Writing Center:

  • Let the student know you’re referring them to the Writing Center for a Guided Tutorial. Explain that their course grade could be negatively affected unless they improve their writing skills. If they are pursuing writing credit for the course, also explain they may not get the “R” credit unless their skills improve. 

  • Talk to the student about the course writing objectives and goals and outline the expectations they need to fulfill to complete their individualized Guided Tutorial program. (Examples of types of expectations:  complete a specified number of revisions, work on particular writing skills, or visit the Writing Center a certain number of times.)  Note these expectations (or conditions) in the “Recommended Plan” section of the Guided Tutorial Referral Form you send to the Writing Center.

  • Explain the potential benefits of the Guided Tutorial in Writing, such as:

    • Receiving individualized one-on-one writing instruction 

    • Improving the quality of writing in subsequent course papers

    • Improving writing skills so students are prepared to meet greater writing challenges

    • Earning “R” credit for an “R”-option course

    • Addressing writing obstacles now to prevent receiving a “U” in Writing at the end of the term

  • Emphasize that even if students fulfill the Guided Tutorial obligations identified in the Guided Tutorial referral form—and even if their writing improves during the semester—they may still receive an end-of-the-semester “U” in writing if they have not met the writing objectives of the course or demonstrated writing competency at the college level or appropriate to their class status.

2. Complete the referral form and sign the Guided Tutorial agreement with the student.

  • Complete the current semester’s Writing Center referral form.

  • Complete a Guided Tutorial or One-Time referral contract/agreement with the student and send a copy to the Writing Center. Email a copy to segraves@owu.edu or writingcenter@owu.edu

  • We will follow up with the student to ensure they make an appointment in the Writing Center. However, we can’t follow up unless you submit a formal referral. 

3. Prepare students for their first Writing Center appointment.  Please ask them to:

  • Email the Writing Center at writingcenter@owu.edu or Sarah Graves at segraves@owu.edu,  schedule through Penji,  or stop by the Writing Center, which is located in the Sagan ARC, HWCC 324, to schedule an appointment.

  • Bring any writing prompts, drafts, and papers with grades and instructor comments to the first appointment. 

4. Please contact Sarah Graves (segraves@owu.edu) or the Writing Center (writingcenter@owu.edu) if you have questions or would like to share additional information about a student you have referred for a Guided Tutorial. 

Department Contact Info


Sagan Academic Resource Center
Hamilton-Williams Campus Center #324
61 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, Ohio 43015
P (740)-368-3925
E writingcenter@owu.edu