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FAQ for Instructors

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Who can use the Hume Center?

Any student with an active Stanford ID can use the Hume Center for tutoring. In addition to students, the Hume Center serves faculty through writing retreats and oral communication consultations. At this time, we are not able to make writing and speaking tutoring available to staff.

Who is on the staff?

Tutors include PWR Lecturers and graduate and undergraduate students. All are highly trained and keen to discuss the rhetorical choices of writers and speakers.

What happens during a tutoring session?

The session will open with goal setting, with the tutor and student identifying the student’s concern and priorities. The focus of the session, given the constraints of time, will then be negotiated, and the student will usually orient the tutor to the work, explaining her audience, purpose, and message. Students should expect to do a lot of talking about their ideas and their composing processes. Tutors will ask clarifying questions and teach revision strategies. Tutors do not discuss grades with students during sessions.

My students have longer writing projects, such as honors and/or master’s theses or dissertations. How can the Hume Center help these students?

The Hume Center works with all Stanford students, from freshmen to PhDs. For longer writing projects, we encourage students to make repeat appointments with one tutor. Students and tutors can agree to meet weekly for up to four weeks; at that time, they reassess the need for weekly meetings and come to a new agreement. The Hume Center's oral communication tutors can help advanced students practice oral components of longer projects, such as dissertation defense presentations, conference and poster presentations, and even job talks. 

I have a lot of multilingual learners in my program and I’d like to refer them to a place that will help them with their English. Should I send them to the Hume Center? 

The Hume Center hosts Thursday English Afternoon (TEA), a free program that offers conversation practice for undergraduate and graduate multilingual learners at Stanford. In addition, tutors can help writers and speakers notice patterns of error and help students become effective editors of their own work. Please note: Tutors are not trained to teach phonics or English as a second language.

How can I encourage my students to use the Hume Center?

  • Bring your students to tour the Hume Center. Write us at to let us know you’re coming so that we can meet you and show you around.
  • Describe your own writing and speaking processes to students as well as when and why you seek feedback from others. Sharing multiple versions of your own work can provide a powerful illustration of the composition process.
  • Request flyers to post on your office door.

Will you correct a student’s grammar?

Our goal is to encourage confident, strategic writers and speakers; to that end, tutors work to cultivate the learning and independence of Stanford students who visit us. Instead of proofreading for students, tutors will help students identify patterns of error in their writing or speaking and give them strategies to respond to them. Perhaps more importantly, they will also help them think rhetorically about their grammar, that is, to think about their audience and the style of writing or speaking most likely to persuade.

How do I know the Hume Center’s assessment of a student’s work won’t contradict mine?

If a student asks a tutor to predict their grade on a project, the tutor will politely decline. While tutors may encourage students by noting when revisions have produced improvement, their non-directive tutoring strategies—such as asking clarifying questions and paraphrasing what students have written or said—support student control of their rhetorical choices.

Tutors are also trained to overcome their “disciplinary bias”: their preference for the communication protocols of their home disciplines. Throughout their training, they are exposed to a range of writing and speaking genres from the humanities, social sciences, and natural and hard sciences.

Can the Hume Center help me revise or develop writing or speaking assignments for my courses?

Yes!  The Hume Center directors are happy to meet with you. Send your request to and learn more about our Resources for Faculty.