Course Case

Why are some faculty against tutoring for their students?

I'm referring to writing tutors specifically.

The problem is that some tutors are editors rather than teachers. It's one thing for a student to have a tutor help him or her make sense out of sentence diagramming or explain the relative merits of ending sentences with prepositions; more instruction is generally better, so long as it doesn't conflict with the point of view expressed in the classroom.

But, some "tutors" get involved in helping students with specific assignments, including writing assignments such as essays. These misguided "tutors" can involve themselves in all sorts of things--from helping choose a topic, to assisting in choosing supporting ideas, and even proofreading for grammar or other errors. The worst "tutors" do these parts of the work for the student. Others at least have the sense to try to teach the student something while helping with these tasks.

What the students too often fail to realize is that any of this kind of "assistance" on an assignment, received without the knowledge and approval of the instructor, is academic dishonesty as well as plagiarism. It is academic dishonesty because it is unauthorized collaboration; the student is working with someone else to complete the assignment, without the permission of the teacher. Further, it is plagiarism because the student submits the work as her or his own, not acknowledging the input from the "tutor."

There are, of course, cases in which instructors ask students to participate collaboratively in all of the activities mentioned above. But, the fundamental difference is that if the instructor asks that it be done, it is then approved, and is understood to have been a part of the writing process. (And it is typically done in a controlled setting.)

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