Showing posts from April, 2012

Ideas and Insights—Not Commas and Conjunctions

The consultation was not out of the ordinary. The client was a frustrated freshman in the throes of struggling through completing another English 104 assignment. She explained to me that she didn’t really understand the prompt and was concerned that the current draft of her paper was not “on the right track.” I suggested that we look over her prompt together. While we were discussing what exactly the assignment was asking her to do, she put down her pencil for a moment and sighed. “I don’t know why my professor is having us do this,” she said. “It seems pretty pointless.” I know that these feelings and frustrations are, to say the least, not uncommon among college students. I have experienced students with similar points of view numerous times in consultations and in my work as a writing assistant in writing-intensive courses. Many seem to view writing as a type of “busy work” assigned by professors to have enough grades to average at the end of the course. Working with the s

Time for a Check-Up

I have been a Writing Center consultant for a little under a year and a half now. I like to think that I’ve grown from the jittery, unsure, and shy consultant I started out as. I had a definite grasp of comma rules, the use of semi-colons, and what complete sentences looked like. I could sort of tell when a sentence sounded awkward or when a paper didn’t really follow its thesis. But the bigger picture of writing great papers flew completely over my head. After that first semester, though, I knew how to look for verb tense continuity and general flow of ideas. I was better at assisting clients in their brainstorming stages, and I learned more of how and why each grammar rule worked the way it did. I was definitely becoming a better writer, but I didn’t honestly take a lot of time to look back and see whether or not I was helping the clients become better writers. In retrospect, I know I was scared to look past what I knew to be true and certain. I didn’t want to tell someone somethi

"I Hate Writing"

No no no—not me. Me I love writing. And reading too. My apologies for the title if it offended you, because normally I refrain from using the H-word, specially next to one of my favorite words (others, in case you were wondering, are food, baseball, farmer, and leader).  So what’s the deal with such a blasphemous title? I know, as a Texas A&M University writing consultant I should never say such a thing—and I never do. But my clients do. Before arriving in Aggieland—Whoop!—I consulted in the University Writing and Rhetoric Center at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). Director Dawn Janke asked that we consultants in the first five minutes ask clients how they felt about writing. You know the answer we got over 90% of the time, so I don’t need to say it: [see blog title]. Now, such spiteful language about my Beloved aint just a Californian thing. I know this because I ask my Texan clients how they feel about writing. I do this outta hab

Rhetorical Confidence: What Happens When We Anticipate Student Expertise

Today, April 4, 2012, Tiffany Rousculp delivered the 2012 Salt Lake Community College Distinguished Faculty Lecture, " Rhetorical Confidence: What Happens When We Anticipate Student Expertise ." Tiffany, former director of Salt Lake Community College's Community Writing Center, talked about her experience at the Community Writing Center with, for want of better terms, shared governance and how issues of authority and expertise played out there. She went on to connect that experience with the traditional classroom in an English 2010 course at SLCC.  Specifically, Tiffany explored how "specific uses of rhetorical priciples in teaching can empower students to become more engaged readers and writers, and thus improve their ability to succeed in their educational goals."  Tiffany shows how we can apply writing center theory and practice to other educational moralities.

Comfy Tutors

Any type of writing can be a significantly intimidating thing for any person to undertake. Writing can be personal, and some might even view it as a reflections of themselves. So, naturally, clients might be either a little intimidated or uncomfortable with letting another person read their paper even before they schedule an appointment at a writing center or with a tutor. Just think, how many times did you feel completely at ease while another person read your unfinished or unpolished work? So, in order to keep the client from accepting everything their consultant or tutor says, staying quiet when asked questions about their paper, or shutting themselves off from the session itself out of fear or discomfort, we need to create a friendly environment in order to achieve the most effective consultation for these clients’ benefits. But comfort isn’t the client’s main priority. He or she came to us in order to improve a paper. It is our duty to make a client more open to receive criticism