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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feeling Discouraged

I have recently finished my observation sessions for my peer tutoring course and am hopefully going to have my first tutoring opportunity this week.  In the mean time I would like to reflect on some of my sessions and what I saw that went well and what did not.

My observation was unnerving to say the least.  The session started on time and the student brought in a paper on a scientific subject.  Once again, it was something I was not familiar with.  The student explained to the tutor that she was feeling uncertain about the way she formatted her paper and the tutor proceeded to get her an APA paper guideline located in the writing center.  For a few moments the tutor and student discussed what was written on the sheet of paper. When the student had questions the tutor seemed like she didn't know the answer to she started to explain that she had looked online at other papers and this seemed to be the correct formatting.  However the tutor just suggested to her that she should check with her professor.

 When it came time to actually discuss the paper the tutor  turned the student's laptop to where she could she it.  I was also able to view the computer screen from where I was sitting.  She read the paper silently to herself and began to make changes to it.  At first, the tutor just corrected a few misspellings but then she began to remove certain words she offhandedly commented shouldn't be in a formal paper.  One example of this is her taking out etc without explaining why in formal papers (such as the one her professor wanted) the use of it is inappropriate.  By this time I was a slightly uncomfortable and shifted my attention to the student who seemed relaxed for the most part.  She seemed to be fine allowing the tutor to do all the work but then the tutor wasn't really allowing her any room for input.  From thee the session just got worse as the tutor began removing and adding commas to the student's paper.  She simply told the student to watch her use of commas without explaining the different rules for comma use.  From where I was sitting that would have been the most appropriate step to take.  She could have pointed out a sentence with a comma splice and asked the student if she noticed anything wrong with the sentence and if she couldn't figure it out she might have showed her and explained the rule for it.  In the next sentence or paragraph should could have had the student look for similar errors and correct them.  After that, they could have had a discussion about it.  Instead, the tutor decided to make the changes on her own without involving the student or asking any leading questions to get her involved.  Within fifteen minutes the session was complete.  The tutor seemed more egger to go home than to actually help the student.

I will admit to being frustrated with this session.  The tutor wasn't welcoming or very friendly.  She didn't seem interested in the student's thoughts on her paper and above all else she took control of the session in a way that proved detrimental to both student and tutor.  If our job as tutors is to help make better writers than this is certainly not the way to go about it.  That more than anything else is what I took from this session.  We have a responsibility to the students who come to the WC seeking help.  It isn't simply to edit for them but to involve them in the process of writing and maybe to help enlarge their tool kit when they sit down in the future to write a paper.

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