Monday, September 20, 2010

The Role of a Tutor

Kenrod James
September 7, 2010
English 1810
Role of the Tutor???
Tutors play a vital role in the development and the progression of any student. Students go to a learning center to learn how to develop their writing skills and to receive guidance from someone who has expertise and more knowledge. This is where the difference between a tutor and a teacher comes in to play. Teachers are there to watch you and to set regulations on the material you learn and how you learn that material, whereas a tutor is there to guide you and allow you to create your own views and ideas. Tutors actually in my opinion, are more influential, because they allow for the student to find their own voice and develop their inner most thoughts and feelings. I know that tutors have the responsibility to judge whether a student actually wants help or if they are just looking for someone to write the paper for them. The relationship of the student tutor has to be one of respect. I think that the student has to want learn and the tutor to teach.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Roles Do Tutors Play?

In class, we were talking about tutors and the roles they do play and the roles they should play. It got me thinking, I thought to myself, 'What do I think a tutor should do?' Thus, this is what I came up with:

Tutors: Our Role

Our role as tutors is to be the “backboard” to their “goal”; the writer’s goal being getting a good grade on their writing or maybe, just bettering their work. As the “backboard”, we let them bounce, or help them to bounce, their ideas off of us and in return, give them helpful, constructive feedback. As tutors, we are there to help them to learn how to properly edit their own papers and to give them inspiration and guidance when the writer’s may need it. Tutors are there to assist the writers learn more about writing and to help them manifest their visions and ideas, in a clear and cohesive manor, on to paper.
As a tutor, one should never write the work for the writer, and the same could be said for any tutor in any area of study. The writers cannot learn, grow and improve if you do. Tutors should: analyze and give beneficial notes on the writers work in order to help direct the writer to express their ideas more lucidly, make sure that the writers work flows well and the expressed ideas are unambiguous and intelligible. As a tutor, you may help a writer with their planning stages to help guide the writers’ ideas to transform on the page and give the writers advantageous ways to tackle their work in ways that make the assignment less daunting. Tutors may introduce strategies that work for them personally, when they write, but, should be sure to find a tactic that works best for the writer. Not everything works for everyone.
A tutor should show writers that the tutoring process is not one of heavy critique were they are chewed up and spit out nor is it one where work is done for them, but that tutoring is a helpful tool, in which people that are interested in writing actually want to help other writers. Tutoring should never be a situation of cavalier attitudes. Tutoring is meant to be a collaborative effort, one of the tutor and the writer, a situation of learning and growing, not judgment. The book mentions that the tutor should ask the writer to read their work aloud. This will then allow the tutor to take notes of things that they noticed for later conversation. I really like this concept. It, on the one hand, gives the reins to the writer and effectively makes them more comfortable (hopefully), and then, on the other hand, it allows you the tutor to catch things the need addressing and could even allow the writer to catch some problems along the way.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Role of the tutor

Collin Bakker

Reflective journal- What role does the tutor play…?

I haven’t spent much time in the writing center… any time for that matter. I think I had to borrow a stapler from there once, so I guess that means I’ve spent a little time. It’s not really somewhere I’ve ever felt drawn to. To explain, I’m not a natural at writing. I’ve spent many hours late into the night with the word processor. Fighting, mostly… though as abusive as the relationship is, I’ve never felt so rewarded as when we finally put something together that works. Because of that, I feel that I have an intimate understanding of what students are going through when the words just won’t cooperate. Being in this position has its advantages, and disadvantages. I know how frustrating it can be when even after all your work someone has the gall to tell you it’s not good enough. But I’m probably going to try and fix the paper for the student because of it. I don’t want to have to see any student struggle like I did, even if struggling a little is needed. Funny how the best way to help can sometimes be not helping. I know that stimulating critical thinking isn’t doing “nothing,” but you get the idea.

I think that the tutor is almost a deception. It’s like telling the student that there are other students that fix papers. Little do they know our goal is largely similar to that of the professor. Tutors try to help students learn to write papers, not fix problems for them. Not many hungry men asking for food want to go fishing. They just want the food.

The task seems somewhat daunting. I hardly think I’m fit to be telling anyone anything more than “it doesn’t sound good.” What do I do when a peer tells me that they have a teacher that grades papers quite strictly, and I can’t find anything wrong with the paper when they show me their work so far? What CAN I do?

Reflective Journal 2

The question asked for this journal is what role does the tutor play in helping the student learn about their writing? I believe the tutor plays a huge role in helping the student understand their writing and the best way to go about writing a paper. The tutor shouldn’t just write the paper for them they should ask questions about their style and what the writer would say in their own words, compared to what the tutor would say.

Of course the tutor should give the writer input and feedback, but not everybody is exactly the same when it comes to writing. The tutor should understand the writer’s style, and incorporate that with their own to get the best results. When the tutor has suggestions or corrections to the writers paper they should explain to them what they are doing, and why they are doing it.

I believe tutoring is a process of showing the writer their errors, and explaining to them what they can do to improve rather than rewriting the paper for them and sending them on their way. The writer should leave the writing center with the knowledge of what to do better next time and how to go about it. The tutor should ask them if they have any questions or concerns to see if they actually know how to improve the paper.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shane Dykes
English 1810
Reflective Journal #2
For this reflective journal we are required to answer the question, what role does the tutor play in helping the student? To be completely honest I cannot completely answer this question from a writing center point of view because I have never been to a writing center and do not know exactly how all the teaching there works, but I am pretty familiar with the classroom setting writing tutor.
We all know that writing centers are a bit different from class rooms and some may actually say that they are the complete opposite, however I feel like the role of the tutor is in the end the same whether they are in a class room or in a writing center. I feel like the ultimate goal is to make the writer better. The role of the tutor is to make sure that you help in a way that doesn’t slam the writer and doesn’t put them down. When I was in high school it was always your papers are graded in two ways bad, or good. Your paper was either good and received a good grade or was bad and was highly criticized with a lot of red marks made with that dreaded red pen and then was returned to you for corrections and the feeling of failure.
The tutor also needs to make sure that they give honest input there is nothing worse than a tutor that always says your work is great and to not change a thing. I don’t like suck ups and they do not help you become a better writer if I have a paper that is rambling on and does not flow I want to be told and I wouldn’t mind their suggestions on how to fix it, matter of fact I prefer them.
I read chapter one from a book titled The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring by Paula Gillespie and Neal Lerner. In the first chapter there are a few pages that are just accounts from people who were or still are students and they wrote about the type of tutoring they had and which type helped and which type didn’t, to me one thing seemed to always be the common issue, don’t suck up and don’t shut them down as a writer. Your goal as a tutor is to HELP and to shape someone into the brilliant writer we all have hiding within us.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Tutoring and Control and Flexibility

A tutor can do many things to help a student learn how to become a better writer. However, after years if tutoring, a tutor can get into ruts that hinder performance, such as taking on the role of expert. I have been tutoring for several years now and feel that I have things to change with my approach, and I have decided that some good concepts to remember to prevent being a prescriptive expert rather than a descriptive helper are control and flexibility. Control and flexibility are important for both tutors and writers.

Tutors need to work on using the concepts of control and flexibility in their tutoring. Taking more time to ask questions and explain would be more helpful to writers rather than giving advice right away. Control comes into play when the tutor asks questions directed toward higher order conders first. Flexibility comes into play when the tutor works with the answers writers provide, allowing writers to direct the course of the discussion.

Expertise can be helpful in tutoring if it helps writers have more control and flexibility as they write. Tutoring expertise should be used to help writers develop their own successful writing processes and used to help them think of ways to solve their own writing problems successfully. Tutors can ask writers what writing process they currently have and also explain what other strategies can be tried. Tutors can ask questions and explain various ways of solving writing problems so that writers can make choices and try to develop their own problem-solving skills. In the end, writers should gain confidence in their writing abilities because they have developed methods to control and be flexible with their own writing.

Sometimes tutors with experience can get into habits that leave them wondering whether they are really helping students, and they need to spend some time developing new habits. I know that I feel I am spending too much time being an expert sometimes. I also feel that applying the concepts of control and flexibility better would improve my own tutoring.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Revision Reflections

This post is a revision of a reflection on "What role does the tutor play to help the student learn?" a question asked in my Writing Center Studies class. As part in the revision assignment, we were asked to have a mock-session with one of our classmates, taking turns acting as the tutor and then as a student, reading our reflections aloud. The next step was to revise our reflection based on the advice given in the tutorial session, and then reflect on how the tutorial session went. I confused myself, however, when doing the 2nd reflection and went on to talk about the corrections I made in the revision and why I made them. Hopefully this can still work to show how one goes about reflecting on their corrections.

Revised Reflection

To me, the role of a tutor is more descriptive than prescriptive. I previously thought tutors acted as editors but, as I’m quickly finding, this is not the case. The important aspects of tutoring seem to be guidance and “tutoring” as it’s defined, not editing. I like this idea: I’m a sort of confidant and not some literary correction machine, baring I could live up to that! I also like the idea of working to create better writers so they can correct their own mistakes in the future.

Another part of me, however, likes to focus on and sees the value in being punctually accurate. That part of me would not mind sitting there correcting papers all day; I see accuracy in a good light, but I know it isn’t in the best interests of a writer to just help them with it. On top of my inclination towards accuracy, I see myself as more prescriptive than descriptive. Working in the SWC will definitely help change these aspects of me, and I believe this will make me a stronger editor and tutor.

In my opinion, the best kind of teacher is one who gives the student multiple paths out of the words. Becoming more descriptive would allow me to get to that point. This seems challenging right now, becoming more descriptive, but it’s refreshing to know that all I need is practice. Chapter 3 of the Longman Guide has some great steps for conducting a one-on-one session, but there is more to be desired. For instance: what kind of notes are pertinent to write down? I have limited experience with taking notes while someone is speaking to me while having to pay attention to the overall conversation. Suffice to say note-taking will be important to practice.

Correction Reflection

The goal I wanted to achieve by revising my journal was to improve clarity; when I was reading my journal to Candace during our mock-session I felt like what I wrote sounded confusing, if not convoluted. I usually have a habit of writing this way, I guess because I find the active voice to be dull, or not interesting enough. This desire for intricacy generally leaves me writing in the passive voice, I think, and in turn my writing ends up clunky and sometimes hard to understand. Some of the sentences in my original journal were so long that, once you got to the end, you could have easily lost track of what the original idea was. I like building up sentences with long, grand introductions, but this doesn’t always lend itself to clarity. The best example I can point to is this:


“Adding the fact that I see myself as more prescriptive and less descriptive, my new position will certainly be one of habit-changing and working on setting my priorities to be in the benefit of the tutee.”


“On top of my inclination towards accuracy, I see myself as more prescriptive than descriptive. Working in the SWC will definitely help change these aspects of me, and I believe this will make me a stronger editor and tutor.”

Here I was able to split the one long sentence into two shorter ones and I think this instantly allows for better clarity. The first sentence is much more direct, just stating my overall attitude. While I still have the introductory reference to accuracy, I think it’s needed in order to contrast my feelings of prescription. I cleaned up the second half of the original sentence quite a bit by creating a much more succinct statement. Its original wording is a great example of what I was initially talking about when I started this reflection: it is clunky and baring on convoluted. With the revision I was able to clean up the wording quite a bit and better organize my thoughts. Splitting up the one long sentence into two was definitely needed in order to make these revisions.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Advertising the Writing Center

Here at Salt Lake Community College Student Writing Center, we created a series of new video commercials for display both online and on our campus information screens.  Creating the videos was a fun process and involved many different people in the Student Writing Center.   The commercials are based on a common theme ("Don't hate.  Collaborate!") and end up telling a story.

In any case, rather than sharing those, I'd rather share some rather creative and succinct commercials I just found from our friends at Brigham Young University.  Take a gander:

Ok,ok, if you really want to see the SLCC SWC videos, go here.

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