Dixie State University’s tutors are always willing to help, but some students are getting the tutors’ role twisted.
DSU offers students free help with homework in the form of the Writing Center and Tutoring Center. The point of these services is not for students to have somebody else do all their homework for them. Rather, they are designed to assist students with the hopes that, eventually, students will develop the necessary tools to succeed on their own.
Writing Center tutor Charity Winsor, a sophomore English major from Pocatello, Idaho, said about half the students she sees have tried to get her to write their papers for them.
“It’s a problem because it’s a college-level course where they’re paying for their education,” she said. “It doesn’t even make sense to make someone else do the work for you. You’re supposed to be learning these things to better yourself for future employment.”
Winsor said she thinks students measure their success by the number of A’s on their transcripts, not the amount of knowledge in their heads. Furthermore, she said attempting to get a tutor to write most of your paper should be considered plagiarism.
“It’s not [the students] work,” she said. “It’s my work, and if I’m going to be the one doing the work, I should be the one getting the good grade. It’s intellectual theft.”
Writing Center tutor Joshua Uipi, a senior integrated studies major from Salinas, Calif., said he tries to be upfront with students expecting more out of their tutoring session than they should.
“I tell them that’s not what we do,” he said. “I can help them with development or ideas.”
Uipi said he often has students ask him to create thesis statements for them.
“I’ll ask what the paper is about, and then they’ll say, ‘Can you just write that down for me?'” he said. “Obviously that’s a huge problem, and I can’t do that.”
Uipi said he imagines students try to take the easy way out, but he too agrees taking the easy way out can become plagiarism. Uipi said students should instead come in expecting tutors to help generate ideas.
“If you have a main idea of what you want to write about, developing that is an important thing, and we can help you structure your paper better,” he said. “Mostly, we give guidance on where to head in the writing process.”
But, it’s not only writing that students try to get out of. Math tutor Danyelle Straehlow, a senior math education and biology major from St. George, said it isn’t as much a problem for her, but it still happens.
“I’ll walk them through two problems, and then if they try to get me do a problem, I’ll give them hints and make them do it,” she said. “I’ll say, ‘Let me know if you need help’ and walk away.”
Straehlow said students want tutors to do their homework because students don’t know how to do the work themselves.
“You know they’re not getting any of the information they’re going to need for the test, and that’s frustrating,” she said.
Braden Lindstrom, the Writing Center director and English instructor, said students should understand the point of tutoring services is to give tutees the skills to eventually be able to do the work on their own.
“The tutors aren’t always going to be available,” Lindstrom said. “[Students] should know the tutor is someone who’s going to offer suggestions for revision (and) who’s going to ask questions about the draft. They’ll leave with a number of suggestions that they can then work on.”
Lindstrom emphasized that tutoring is about the tutee learning, and that when the tutor does all the work, the tutor is learning more than the tutee.
“Anyway possible that we can get tutors to offer suggestions, so the student actually creates the language they’ll use in the paper, the better,” Lindstrom said.
Tutoring Center coordinater Rowena Thiess said currently there is no official policy in dealing with such instances, though she knows it goes on. She said she is considering placing a statement in the policy that will cover the issue.
“If [administration and faculty] should ask me to do that, I don’t have a problem with that,” she said.
Thiess said it’s offensive for students to ask tutors to just do the work, not only because of ethical reasons, but also because it asks the tutors to undervalue their own education.
“If [a tutor] won’t do it here, students will go somewhere else,” she said. “But I don’t want to provide it here.”
Straehlow emphasized that it’s cheating for her to sit down and do a student’s homework. Straehlow said tutors will walk tutees through foggy concepts, but those seeking help need to understand that only students should do the actual homework.
“The Tutoring Center is here to help you with your homework,” she said. “We’re willing to help you out, but if we’re just doing it for you, that’s not cool.”