About Tutoring & FAQs

Our Mission

The mission of the RISD Writing Center is to support RISD’s undergraduate and graduate students in the process of writing through one-to-one peer tutoring, to provide resources for students and faculty on learning and teaching writing, and to advocate for writing as a method and record of critical thinking and expression in all disciplines, including art and design.

Tutoring in Writing

The RISD Writing Center’s core work is providing peer tutoring in writing to all RISD students. Meeting with a tutor is a collaborative process that helps students develop their writing skills in an environment of respect for each individual’s voice, experience, and intention. Trained graduate and undergraduate tutors who are strong writers, readers, and listeners consult on everything from outlining to grammar and mechanics to clarity of argument. All stages and all kinds of writing—from academic research papers to graduate written theses to grant applications—are welcome at the Writing Center.

While one-hour tutoring sessions are our primary service, the Writing Center is more broadly a community of students and faculty who value writing in all disciplines as an essential form of critical thinking, expression, and citizenship and appreciate its significance in the context of art and design. Writing is one of the primary ways in which the mind processes and retains information and is thus a cornerstone of engagement in higher education. It is a powerful tool for clarifying and conveying otherwise ambiguous or fleeting thoughts—for making our thoughts known not only to others but to ourselves. As a far-reaching form of persuasive communication, it is a key aspect of participation in local and global communities. Writing can also play a profound role in artists’ and designers’ practice. By articulating on the page what are often intuitive acts and contexts, artists and designers establish fluency, agency, and even history. Writing is also an art form itself, and many RISD students write poetry, fiction, or plays, or engage language as a material in their work.

The Writing Center is here for all RISD students: undergraduates seeking to improve their college-level academic writing for E101 or understand the conventions of documentation for a HPSS research paper, non-native speakers wishing to fine-tune their English usage, graduate students building language around their work for the graduate written thesis, anyone writing a curatorial statement or a grant application or as preparation for a crit. RISD’s writing culture is strong, and we’re proud to share in it.

Tutoring in Related Literacies

Writing has always been a fluid medium, perhaps especially in an art and design school. Now, in the 21st century, writing shifts shapes more than ever: moving between page and screen, taking form as voice in both live and virtual spaces, incorporating images and design principles. We respond to this expanded field of writing, helping you build skills and confidence in public speaking and in visual communication.

All Writing Center tutors can work with you on public speaking concerns. You can talk about any kind of public speaking: in-class presentations, artist talks, critiques, performances, etc. A session could be spent on rhetorical effectiveness, perhaps focusing content or forming a narrative. You could also learn more about the psychology of public speaking in order to calm your nerves or engage the audience, or practice the physical aspects of presenting, like projecting your voice and using purposeful gestures.

A selection of specially trained tutors are available to help with visual communication. These tutors can help you with anything from portfolios to resumes to presentation visuals to book layout. While working to improve a specific project, VC tutors will share basic design principles, like establishing aesthetic, choosing and setting type, designing on a grid, creating image strategies, and selecting and applying color.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will the Writing Center tutors help me with?

You can bring any sort of writing to the Writing Center, course-related or not (essays, research papers, theses, artist statements, cover letters, grant proposals, etc.), at any stage of the project (an initial idea, outline, draft or final revision). Tutors will help you find your own ideas, discover ways to improve your piece, make a plan for approaching an assignment, or decipher and use professor feedback. They always prioritize your concerns — from something specific, like transitions or documenting sources, to broader processes, like organization or logic. We will not comprehensively correct your papers for you. We will help you learn to develop and revise your own writing.

How do I make an appointment?

You can make an appointment from any computer at any time using our online schedule. The link is on every page of our website (in the right column in bold red letters), but feel free to bookmark the page: risd.mywconline.com. If this is your first time using our online schedule, click on the link above the login panel to register using your @risd.edu e-mail address. Then log in with the password you created. You’ll be sent directly to our schedule, where further instructions are provided at the top.

What if there are no free appointments when I need to come in?

If there are no available time slots on a day you’d like an appointment, click the clock icon next to the date in the upper left corner of that day’s schedule. This will bring up a window allowing you to be added to the waiting list. It will automatically email you (or text you if you enter a phone number) when another student cancels an appointment that day. This will notify you of the open hour, prompting you to go online to make the appointment.

Can I make appointments through the entire semester?

Yes, the links at the top of our schedule page allow you to plan ahead and make appointments any time in the current semester. Just be sure to plan carefully and be aware of all appointments you make. Missing an appointment without canceling at least 24 hours ahead of time puts you at risk of being permanently blocked from using the Writing Center. If you are interested in meeting regularly, we can arrange weekly or biweekly appointments for you. Contact Meredith Barrett at mbarrett01@risd.edu for more information or to set this up.

How can I make the most of a Writing Center tutoring session?

It’s helpful if you have a sense of what you would like to accomplish during a session. Are you seeking assistance with your introduction, with grammar, organization? We can’t do everything in a typical one-hour session, so we try to hone in on what you feel you need. For a class assignment, please bring the course syllabus, the assignment sheet, and any comments you may have received from your instructor on your writing. For research papers, you should also know what documentation style your instructor prefers. Follow-up visits, during which tutors review your revisions, are encouraged. It’s always best to plan ahead; coming in one hour before a paper is due is not ideal, as you will likely want to take time after the session for revision.

Please stop by, call, or email to learn more.

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