Skip to main content
InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

International Programs Student Worker Guide: Peer Writing Consultant

Links & Supplemental Resources

The manuals I used to create our handbooks: 

Peer Writer Consultant Handbook

Philosophy & Practices [1]

Peer Writer’s Consultant Responsibilities-

  • Tutors are available to consult with any writer in drafting and revising any writing.
  • We believe that all writers, at all levels, need to conference with good readers about their writing: tutoring in the College Writing Center is not remedial.
  • Tutors enter into a respectful dialogue with writers, in a kind and patient tone.
  • The tutor provides an intelligent audience by asking stimulating questions.
  • The tutors can share what they know about academic writing (argument, citation, tone, assignment) in ways that support what the writer is working on. Tutors can explain the conventions of standard English and help writers generate ideas while avoiding “fixing” the paper for them.
  •  Peer tutors are not, and do not need to be, experts. They can assist writers in the use of handbooks and other references, and provide a valuable audience. When a tutor isn’t sure, they try find out for the clients and refer them to other resources.

Tutee Responsibility -The writer, not the tutor, owns the work and the ideas. The writer should identify their concerns, questions, and the goals for each session. The tutor should not do more work than writer. Ultimately the writer makes decisions about how to improve their text.    

[1] The Postsdam College Writing Center Staff Handbook)

Consultations (Practice & Procedure)

  • Give yourself a time constraint; you can’t go over your five hours a week.
  • Log your consultations (the log should include four components Exigence (problem prompt), Agenda, Methods, Next steps)

Log Components:  

  1. Exigence (problem prompt)
  2. Agenda
  3. Methods
  4. Next steps


An exigence is an issue, problem, or situation that causes or prompts someone to write, speak, or act. Describe the prompt, genre, or project motivating the work at this point in time.


Use one to three bullet points to describe the agenda you set; note any revisions to the agenda made throughout the appointment with the writer.


The methods section of a log includes an account of work accomplished by describing the strategies or approaches used. In a log for an appointment, be specific about the work each person did during the appointment and the strategies you used to help the writer.

Next Steps

Next steps are specific, actionable, realistic tasks that establish an agenda for future work. In a log for an appointment, the next steps should be formulated with the writer, taking into consideration the collaboratively set agenda.

Electronic Consultation (Google Doc)[1]

In Written Feedback appointments, you provide comments on an electronic copy of a writer’s project that is then returned to them. In Written Feedback appointments, you act as a careful reader providing thoughtful commentary about how their writing connects with an authentic audience.

In your written feedback, you give writers a sense of what aspects of their work are clear and rhetorically effective for you as you read. You give writers feedback about what aspects of their work you find confusing or problematic or might otherwise benefit from revision.


Before you begin working with any document, you should always take a moment to familiarize yourself with any information the writer provided about the project and the kind of help requested.

Intro comment

Introductory remarks—usually inserted after the title or first line—are a critical first step in providing written feedback. They help to build rapport by welcoming the writer, thanking the writer for sharing their work, introducing you as the peer writing tutor who will be commenting on the project, and giving the writer direction for using your written comments.


These first-contact moments will ensure that the writer understands you are there to offer insightful commentary free of judgment. You can use your introductory remarks to remind the writer that you will be looking for things that an instructor or project requires as well as the concerns the writer may have raised when they submitted the project.


We’re here to help writers, so it is important to always consider the issues the writer wants to work on. Sometimes you might realize that there are other things in the project that warrant more attention than what concerned the writer. Other times, you’ll find that the writer did not ask you to focus on anything in particular. Regardless, it’s important for you as a peer writing tutor to explain why you focused on what you focused on while also being realistic about what you can accomplish within the time constraints of your appointment. Much like at the start of a Face-to-Face appointment when you set an agenda that typically focuses on 2 to 3 main issues, your introductory comments can set the agenda for your written feedback.

Marginal comments

Marginal comments are essential to any Written Feedback appointment.

Marginal comments allow a peer writing tutor to:

  • ask clarifying questions
  • challenge the writer to consider how a reader will approach a specific
  • part of the project offer text-specific praise

Summary comments

The purposes of your summary comments are threefold.

1. They express encouragement for the writer’s ongoing commitment to their writing process. For example, if you’ve worked with the writer previously, refer to their progress and growth.

2. They summarize your comments and suggestions and reinforce your priorities for your marginal comments. Privilege patterns and big issues — global concerns and local ones that impede understanding.

3. They give detailed, specific suggestions for next steps. What strategies and techniques should the writer use to make the revisions you are recommending in relation to this project? What strategies and techniques might the writer use in future projects? For example, you might explain how a reverse outline could help the writer think about the organization. Or, you can suggest the writer read their work aloud.

[1] DePaul Chapter 5 collaborating with writers by providing written feedback


In-Person Consultation [1]

Face-to-Face appointments allow you and a writer to meet and to work together in person. Face-to-Face appointments are conversations grounded in collaboration, respect, and revision.

In Face-to-Face appointments, you listen to writers’ requests. You provide thoughtful and constructive feedback. You are transparent and explicit about managing your time together. You suggest helpful resources, strategies, and follow-up appointments as needed. You record notes and document your work together in a log.

Setting an agenda

Is a collaborative endeavor that helps to focus your work, to manage time in the appointment, and to write a log summarizing the appointment. Set an agenda at the beginning of the appointment. Revisit the agenda periodically throughout the appointment.

As you begin the appointment, talk about:

  • The project the writer is working on
  • What the writer wants to work on during the appointment
  • Any deadlines or due dates
  • What stage of their writing process the writer is in
  • Any materials related to the project (e.g., the assignment, call for papers, or application prompt)
  • What the writer knows about the intended reader(s)
  • The writer’s customary drafting habits and practices
  • The type of feedback they have received in the past and, in particular, what type of feedback they find most helpful
  • How much time you will have to work together
  • The need to end the appointment 5 or 10 minutes early so you can write a log

Work with the writer to decide on 1, 2, or 3 specific goals for the session. In cases where you and the writer cannot agree on aspects of the agenda, deffer to the writer’s agency.

During Session

Offer genuine praise for whatever the writer is doing well in their work. Make your praise specific and concrete. Find examples from their work to show the writer what they are doing well.

Ending Session

When the end of the appointment draws near, revisit the agenda and collaboratively discuss the writer’s next steps and potential revisions. Remind the writer about the time you need to write a log and consider drafting the log collaboratively. Invite the writer to schedule follow-up appointments and encourage them to visit the Writing Center again.

[1] DePaul

Loading ...