This letter is in response to the article published last week on March 30, 2010 entitled “Beware of the Undergraduate.” What I believe the article was trying to say is that a well-qualified and well-trained tutor, no matter their station in life, can assist a graduate student with his/her writing.
While I also agree with the philosophy that good writing is good writing, I believe we must acknowledge that there are vast differences in graduate writing versus undergraduate writing, including assignment, purpose, process and investment. On the face of it, graduate students are assigned much larger, more complex writing tasks, such as literature reviews, theses, and dissertations. The sheer magnitude of analysis and writing make this type of writing different in purpose and process. Graduate writers draft for “discovery, not presentation” (Becker, 1986, p.17). No longer does the undergraduate “one shot paper” exist (Becker, 1986, p.11) but in its place many drafts with many layers and levels of higher order revisions and lower order edits.
Additionally, graduate students are vested in their writing like never before (much to their surprise.) Their writing begins to define their professional identity and serves as a part of their socialization into the profession.
Writing tutors who understand these differences can be effective in assisting graduate students with writing assignments, no matter if they are undergraduate or graduate students.
The course that will be offered this fall, Writing Center Tutoring, will address these differences and the discrete needs of graduate writers.
That being said, the Tomás Rivera Center provides additional resources for graduate level writers, including academic coaching, workshops, the Thesis/Dissertation Group and the Writing Institute.
The TRC staff work with graduate students to overcome writing obstacles, refine the nuances of research questions, develop a working plan for the completion of their assignment, and more.
All of these venues provide the opportunity for graduate students to develop as professionals in their field and we welcome graduate students to engage with us!