Best Practices for Required Visits

Are you thinking of requiring your students to visit the Klooster Center? That is an excellent idea.

Required visits help students better recognize the importance that you place on writing; it is also likely to improve the quality of the papers you receive. Moreover, we often find that some students, who might never have considered using the Klooster Center, discover that it’s a pretty great service — and so they come back later, even when they aren’t required to do so.


Experience has shown that these “required visits” can be a great deal more productive if instructors are willing to create certain expectations about the visit among their students. In particular, you can help us out in the following ways:

  1. Please require your students come with two or three questions or specific issues that they want to address when speaking to a writing assistant about their papers. When students just show up and aren’t sure what to do (“She just told me it’s required,” they'll say), they end up not having a very productive session, since the writing assistant can’t offer much generic advice. Or, sometimes, the student just says “just check my grammar,” which usually means that the student hasn’t given much thought to how he or she might improve the paper. Moreover, the Klooster Center isn't really a grammar-checking or “proofreading” service, so students who come expecting this can sometimes leave frustrated.
  2. Please encourage (or require) that your students make an appointment, as opposed to just dropping in. Doing so helps spread out the workload a bit; it also makes the students more intentional about the whole process. They can make an appointment in person, via telephone (x7025) or using the online appointment form.
  3. Set a deadline for the visit that’s well before the actual deadline for the paper; also, if possible, create a system that staggers the deadlines. Past experience suggests that students will often put off these visits until the last minute; and this, along with the usual press of business, can create too much demand for appointments on a particular date and thereby overwhelm the system. Moreover, students tend not to be very interested in the advice they receive in such circumstances, because — as they have sometimes said — “I don't have time to fix it.” Thus, if the paper is due on, say, the Thursday the 28th, choose a date early in the week (26th, say) the last day to make that required visit to the center. Even better, require a certain part of the alphabet to do it by the 24th, another part by the 25th, etc. — and/or award extra credit for people who do it by an earlier date. This matter is especially important if your class has more than 20 students.
  4. If possible, send us a copy of the assignment ahead of time, noting due dates and dates by which a visit is required. I will make this available to the writing assistants (WAs), who can then be better prepared for required visits. The WAs always ask students to see the assignment anyway; inevitably, though, many don’t have it with them or can’t find it. This problem obviously occurs in a variety of cases, not just when students are assigned to visit the Klooster Center — but when visits are assigned, this at least gives us an opportunity to address the problem by providing the WAs with copies of it ahead of time.

Thanks for helping us out by attending to these general guidelines. If you have further suggestions for how we can be of most service, or if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact David Cunningham at 395-7121 or