Statement of Philosophy and Purpose
The Saint Mary’s College Writing & Tutoring Center fosters learners’ confidence in their abilities to read carefully, think critically, analyze fairly, and intervene courageously in academic conversations. This is true even when projects address sensitive or politically fraught topics and perspectives.
We listen carefully to learners, respecting their ideas, concerns, hopes, and frustrations. We ask guiding questions and provide resources that prioritize organization, structure, and purpose. In writing tutoring, this means we do not emphasize grammar and style over more global concerns such as organization and the use of evidence. We are intentional and reflective about our tutoring practices.
Our tutors are well prepared to work across the disciplines. We have subject-area tutors in nearly half a dozen majors currently. Our writing tutors, who also represent a variety of disciplines, train as generalized writing tutors. This helps us guide writers as they transfer skills from one course, such as their Basic W course, into other courses and specializations. Subject-area tutors receive shared training with writing tutors, as well as advanced guidance in their discipline with their faculty.
When learners work with us, they will leave the tutorial with a set of concrete steps by which they can develop and revise their own work. These plans are important because they can help learners work through feeling disorganized, discouraged, or frustrated. These plans help learners gain a sense of control over the project. These plans - and our support - can also guide learners on future projects, especially if they experience anxiety, blocks, or confusion.
We support learners with the necessary tools to become more confident and more competent learners, self-editors, and self-guides. In terms of writing tutoring, this means that we do consult with writers about patterns of grammar and citation errors when needed, but we do not proofread or edit writers’ work. All tutors work on reading and study skills alongside the specific skills for the assignment at hand.
We endeavor to create a compassionate place for learning, a place where diverse languages, learning styles, gender identities and cultural perspectives can find means of authentic expression. We value the voices of all learners and firmly believe that those voices should be heard. We work to amplify diverse voices, supporting communication rather than overtaking it. The WTC tutors work with learners, not for them; we help guide learners to become independent, conscientious thinkers and writers.
Faith and Spirituality
A central part of faith and spirituality is learners’ discernment of their vocation - their commitment beyond themselves to the complex world in which we live. The WTC is a place where learners can explore their vocations through writing, whether the task at hand is a cover letter, graduate application, literature review, analytical essay, or graduate thesis. It's a place where they can more deeply study a specific discipline's conventions and ways of knowing.
Learners often explore difficult concepts or uncomfortable topics for the first time in college and graduate school. We support them as they learn to think critically and communicate carefully about such concepts and topics.
We build on the Saint Mary’s College Mission Statement, valuing differences within our caring environment. To that end, we advocate for antiracist, bias-free and bias-aware language practices in alignment with leading style guides. We acknowledge Standard Academic American English as simply one of many forms of English, to be used in particular contexts or for particular purposes.
Authoring Note: This document was composed collaboratively by the director and tutors in the Spring of 2021. It was revised after review by the Provost and Assistant Provost and expanded in Spring 2022 in light of the extension of tutoring services to specific subject areas.