Preparing CAPTA Proposals: A How-To Guide for Directors and Tutors

Preparing CAPTA Proposals: A How-To Guide for Directors and Tutors by Kate Hutton

Kate Hutton has co-directed the Herndon Writing Center since 2012. She is the Vice President of and the Conference Proposal Coordinator for the Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association. Questions? Email her:

Are you hoping to have your tutors submit proposals for CAPTA 2017 but feeling unsure of where to begin? Then you have come to the right place! This post is meant to guide directors and tutors who are considering submitting a proposal to CAPTA 2017.

Each year, when CAPTA’s Call for Proposals (CFP) is published, my co-director and I use the CFP as an opportunity for our tutors to engage in studying proposals as a genre, to identify strengths and potential areas of growth in our writing center, and to prepare a presentation on a topic of their choosing related to our writing center.

Our writing center is primarily run through our Advanced Composition course, which tutors can take up to three years in a row. Therefore, our tutors fall into two groups: tutors who plan to re-enroll in Advanced Composition and continue tutoring next year, and tutors who do not plan to re-enroll in Advanced Composition because they are graduating or taking another elective. Regardless of their intent and whether or not they plan to submit a proposal to present at CAPTA, all of our tutors prepare a proposal and a presentation. Their proposal becomes a major 3rd Quarter grade, while they deliver their presentation as part of an in-house mini-conference at the end of the year; their presentation serves as their Final Exam for the course

Below is a step-by-step guide for breaking down the often-challenging process of preparing a proposal. At the end of this post, you will find a copy of our Proposal Project for returning tutors, a copy of our Legacy Project for non-returning and Senior tutors, and a step-by-step timeline .

Step 1: Reviewing the CFP and Identifying a Presentation Topic

As you might guess, we begin the process by reviewing CAPTA’s CFP. While tutors aren’t required to submit a proposal that directly relates to the conference theme, the guiding questions give tutors something to focus on as they reflect on the work of our center.  

Our tutors then meet in their Tutor Families (groups of about 5 experienced and novice tutors who meet regularly to discuss tutoring practices) and engage in a discussion about what we do well as a writing center and what we could be doing better. We then come back together as a class and generate a list of potential topics that tutors can focus on. If tutors come up with an idea to help remedy an area of growth, we discuss realistic ways that the tutor or the group of tutors can successfully implement their idea by the end of the school year.

Tutors then break off as individuals or into groups of up to four. They then have about a week to identify a topic for their proposal. Once they’ve identified their topic, they discuss their plan with me or my co-director, and we either advise them on how they can revise their idea or give them approval to move forward with their topic.

Step 2: Genre Study

Before tutors begin the process of drafting their proposal, we use the resources posted under CAPTA’s Guide to Submitting Proposals to engage in genre study. Tutors are given about a week to review each of the four sample proposals and to make notes on the overall topic, how effectively the author’s ideas are communicated, and how well research is incorporated into the proposal. From there, as a class we identify the characteristics of effective proposals and use those as guidelines throughout the proposal writing process.

Step 3: Drafting

Once tutors have submitted their topic and studied the genre, they then begin drafting. We require our tutors to submit two rough drafts approximately two weeks apart prior to submitting their final proposal. We also require our tutors to have their proposals tutored in the writing center so that they discuss their ideas with their peers throughout the process. This also allows us to provide tutors with feedback and point them in a different direction if need be.

Step 4: Submitting the Proposal

My co-director and I collect final proposals a week before CAPTA’s deadline so that we can provide any last-minute feedback to our tutors. Again, we do not require all tutors to submit proposals to CAPTA, but we have found that most of our tutors do decide to submit their proposal because they have spent quite a bit of time preparing it already. Tutors who do submit proposals to CAPTA do so during class time leading up to CAPTA’s proposal deadline.

Extensions: In-House Mini-Conferences

After our tutors submit their proposals, they then prepare presentations on their topics, which serve as their final project for our Advanced Composition course. The in-house mini-conference gives students the opportunity to practice their presentations in a lower-stakes environment, allows them to receive constructive feedback from their peers, and serves as a celebration of all of their hard work throughout the year.

Timeline and Assignments

Below are the assignments and the timeline our Herndon Writing Center Tutors are following as they prepare proposals for this year’s conference.

Assignment: Proposal Project for Returning Tutors

Assignment: Legacy Project for Seniors and Non-Returning Tutors

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