Monday, December 02, 2013

Effective Strategies and Techniques

Which strategies/techniques do you use in your sessions that are effective and help students learn? I ask this because I am currently enrolled in a Writing Center Studies class where I have been assigned to complete a research project. My topic is to focus on effective strategies and techniques tutors use in their sessions that they find effective. While I have tailored this project to my University I am curious to know and learn new techniques, strategies, and activities that other tutors are using.

No matter the name—peer tutors, collaborators, fellows, writing assistants— our main goal is to assist student writers in order to enhance their academic and personal success. The ways in which we help our students vary depending on the writing center and the tutors themselves. For instance, at my University we are embedded fellows; we work specifically with first year composition courses. I work with 15 students enrolled in a basic writing course. During my time in their class I get to know the students and the projects they are working on in advance. Although the assignments are the same for each student, each session I have is slightly different from one another. I tailor my session to the needs of the students, which means in one session I could have the student, who is in the brainstorming stage, fast write, while I could have another student who needs to break down each paragraph in their draft to focus on transitions and organization. Being able to work with different students gives tutors the ability to try new techniques and strategies; sometimes they are successful and sometimes they are not. It is imperative that we become aware of the strategies and techniques we use since they affect the dynamic of our sessions and the students learning. 

So once again I am curious: which strategies/techniques do you use in your session that are effective and help students learn? Why do you believe such strategies are effective, and how do you tailor these techniques to each session?


  1. Which strategies/techniques do you use in your session that are effective and help students learn? Why do you believe such strategies are effective, and how do you tailor these techniques to each session?

    Hi! I enjoyed your post, it sounds like you take a very non-directive approach which I think is very commendable. I just wanted to say that I love the principle of encouragement and building on a writer's strengths. I believe that if you praise them for what they're doing write (haha), then their confidence increases as well as their interest in composition. I believe that with encouragement, writers are more likely to experiment with their writing and are more likely to research topics that matter to them and invest their energy in producing writing of a higher quality. I'm a big fan of these principles but I also believe we shouldn't give the writer a false sense of security either. I think it's good bedside manner to talk to the writer about the issues you see in their paper with tact, but I also think you should definitely tell them so they don't feel like they don't need to go any further or that they can't go any further with their writing. I think ideally it'd be best to be able to talk to the writer about the issues in their paper as if they weren't issues at all, but rather as if they were opportunities for growth and exciting creative expansions. I'd like to try just addressing an issue with a writer then telling them how I'm excited to see what they can come up with.

  2. Haha sorry I didn't mean to post your questions as well, I was using those as a reference for my response.

  3. I work with ESL students and I felt constructive feedback in the manner of 3 parts praise, 1 part rebuke has been helpful with an personality. It forces the tutor to find 3 positives to their paper while inserting one thing worth working on. It maintains your credibility with the student and tends to create a friendly bond between the tutee and the tutor. Just food for thought.

  4. I agree with Evan Peterson. I believe that it s very important to encourage your students and to help them see their strengths. Helping students see their strengths is a great tool in making the students better writers. I have found that if a student constantly feels like his/her writing is inadequate or below expectation, he/she will have a harder time concentrating. If this happens the session won't be as effective because the student will be focused on something that is, without a doubt and absolutely, not helping them become better writers. Realistic encouragement and genuine engagement in the students specific needs has proven to be most effective durning sessions to me.