Showing posts from April, 2014

Thoughts while doing a research project

If there is something to be careful about when handling a research project, it is to be wary of assumptions. I have found that during the course of my project, whereby I am studying why students procrastinate on writing assignments, there are many different factors and opinions that come into play. While unifying these different factors and looking for commonalities, I feel like even with all the background literature I have read, a lot of the conclusions and inferences I have been drawing, may be considered subjective in some light. I fear that if someone with a completely different mindset were to be exposed to all the literature I have been exposed to, and all the gathered raw data I have gathered, they might come to a different conclusion than I for the same question I am asking. I am trying to be extremely careful as to include all possibilities in my conclusions and to gear towards what is most likely, but there is just this overhanging fear that unless I actually test my data a

Working With Student-Athletes

I have heard several writing assistants complain about working with student athletes. The main complaints are basically that student-athletes come to the tutoring center unprepared, with mediocre and incomplete assignments, and with a care-less attitude. Many tutors feel frustrated working with student-athletes because tutors feel like student-athletes are not interested in learning and actually improving their writing skills. And if the student-athletes themselves don’t care about their grade, why should we, the tutors, care? Many tutors feel unenthusiastic about working with student athletes because of the belief that the session will be tedious and that they will be basically talking to a wall for 30 minutes. However, this is a misconception, and tutors should give student-athletes a chance before stereotyping them as poor writers. Athletes, in fact, are extremely smart. They have leadership skills, strong teamwork values, and they enjoy challenges and competition. Addit

Breaking tradition

When I said I wanted to write something about being a nontraditional student, a fellow tutor asked, insightfully, what the term actually meant.   So I looked it up. According to our school’s website: “ A non-traditional student [includes] any of the following: over age 25, married or partnered, having children, a veteran of a branch of the Armed Services, a student who works full-time, or a student who is enrolled part-time .”   Most nontraditional students started reading this like a checklist, not an “or” statement.   25, check.   Married, check. Veteran, check plus.   It’s almost a game of   “do I fit more categories than you?”   I probably do, by the way.   I fit all except the last two, which usually come as a set, so I think they should be one item.   Think about that, though.   When the school goes to offer services to groups of students, “nontraditionals” tend to count as one lump category, but a 22 year old mother, working full time, taking night classes has a complet

Organizational Patterns

I arrived at the comp fellow’s office a few minutes before the scheduled appointment time to get my laptop, notes and the course syllabus within reach just in case I would need to refer back to any of the sources during the upcoming session. Being punctual allows the tutor to gain order and control over a tutoring session. Displaying proper organization prior to the start of an appointment creates an educational environment. This organizational pattern is recognizable not only by the students but also by professionals across all course curriculum's. This instills the students with a sense of security and trust in the tutor’s authority. As a writing fellow I am always appreciative when a student displays signs of preparation before a session. During a session last week it was apparent that the student reviewed the syllabus beforehand seeing as she entered the session with an already clear topic for her research assignment, on the city of Paris. The directions for the research ass

Active Listening

One of the most powerful tools you can use as a tutor is active listening. During a tutoring session it is important to comprehend the main points the writer is trying to convey. Following the direction of the paper should be the ultimate goal throughout the session, as you want to ensure that the writer is clearly and effectively fulfilling the requirements for the writing project.                 During all of my sessions I start out by reviewing the syllabus and the instructions for the writing assignment then I ask the student if he/she understands what is expected of them for the project, while they all mostly agree to understanding I usually don’t figure that out until we start diving into the writing. This is where the power of active listening comes into play, once you begin engaging with the writer you can discover what level of comprehension they have reached. By asking questions, engaging in conversations, and listening to not only just the writing but the way the student

The Color Red

A red ink blot here. A red circle there. The markings of a professor’s thoughts are boldly seen. The arms of the student and tutor/fellow are completely extended out staring at a multi-marked paper. All there is to see is the essay’s bloody wounds visible throughout the whole paper. The color red brings the attention to the eye, but in the attention of error and disapproval. The usage of red ink to correct a student’s paper is frowned upon. Why? Is it that it is too harsh? Are we accustomed to learn that red markings mean incorrectness or negativity? The attempt and latest trend to use softer colors that are more friendly and refreshing to the eye, such as teal, purple, and green, are being used more in classrooms. However, we are in the technological era, and it helps that we have access to computers and laptops in most of our classrooms that eliminate the option of the actual professors’ handwritten markings to butcher the thoughts and labor put into a paper. With advanced

Confidence in Student Writers

After having multiple sessions throughout this semester, I have noticed that each of the students I see have different levels of confidence. I thought to myself, “What could possibly be the reasoning for it? Could outside factors be the cause?” The class I am assigned to is very diverse. With some students from other countries or backgrounds, they tend to have a tougher time than those who are familiar with English. International students may have difficulty learning the rules of academic English. Having to struggle with academic English and keeping up with class assignments, especially at the college level, is not easy. Assignments themselves can be difficult or new to the student and that may lower their confidence. For example, I had a student who had never completed a research paper before. I asked her what she found was most difficult for her to accomplish the paper. Her response was the pressure of making sure the format and APA style was correct, as well as using only thi

The use of Pen and Paper-Is it beneficial for sessions?

I am very interested in the impact of the use of pen and paper v technology during sessions. Students, and even us tutors, have become heavily dependant on technology to write papers and to make presentations. The use of laptops and computers has almost completely replaced the use of pen and paper. Still, I believe that the physical use of pen and paper is necessary. Even more so, I believe that it is a useful tool to use during tutoring sessions. I have found it to be useful in several ways. I have found that the use of pen and paper during sessions helps students organize their thoughts and memorize things faster. I try to implement the use of pen and paper with my students in every single one of my sessions. It might seem a bit old fashioned to use, but it seems to me that pen and paper gives more freedom to writers. My students have expressed to me that it gives them a greater sense of freedom especially during the drafting period of a paper. The students I have i

Multiple Appointments on the Same Assignment

       One of the great aspects of the writing center is that students can make multiple appointments, even if said appointments concern the same assignment. It is truly an opportunity for the student to become aware of his/her writing process and to improve upon it. The question is how to successfully help the student so that the appointment remains productive rather than monotonous.   Despite working on the same assignment, it is important to consider how to help the student progress with his/her writing as he/she moves forward. The tutor can begin a repeated assignment session by taking some time to discuss what they worked on during the last appointment. This can include discussing what the assignment was, what the student had trouble with previously, and what the tutor and student worked on last time. This will provide a foundation for how the session can be structured in order to ensure it continues to benefit the student. It is important that the tutor think carefully about

Social Construction at a Nail Salon.

I had a peculiar experience this week at the nail salon. I was writing some work in a notebook while getting my feet done. I was   so concentrated in my work that   I didn’t notice the nail technician looking at me. She looked at me and asked, “Are you writing in your diary?” I said “no…” and thought “ non of your business.” “It’s for an assignment” I said.   she replied, “Oh I hate writing.” I paused for a second while the words sunk in: “I hate writing.” Her comment almost offended me.   I looked at her and said, “well, I don’t think you hate writing, I mean you like to text and write messages on Facebook right?” Her face changed and she said “Oh my gosh, yes.” I went on to tell her that writing is not an activity to be hostile towards because she obviously likes using it as a medium of communication. I told her that writing itself is an amazing form of communication that we all use on a daily basis. At the end of my little speech she let out the magic word that make all of us