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 how to approach the second session so that the student receives additional information rather than a reiteration of their previous session.
By discussing what the student worked on during their previous appointment and what they have worked on since the last appointment, it will be easier for the tutor to perceive lapses within the student’s progress. If the student has worked on improving the aspects the tutor and student discussed last time, this can be an opportunity to discuss whether the student feels he/she successfully improved. This will help the student reflect upon his/her writing. For example, a tutor can ask the student if the reason he/she came in for his/her first appointment is still a problem and where he/she would like to improve in the future. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of one’s work demonstrates competence as a writer. By developing awareness of his/her writing process, the student can understand what steps he/she needs to take in order to complete an assignment.
If the student feels he/she has improved, the tutor can ask what else the student would like to work on. This can include building off of the advice given by the previous tutor or addressing an issue that has been overlooked. At this time, the advice from the previous session can be critiqued by the current tutor and the tutor will have an opportunity to provide his/her own personal input. Additionally, if another issue has arisen, it should be viewed as an opportunity to develop a plan that will lead to the resolution of this problem.
Conversely, if the student feels he/she has not improved, it is important to consider why. In this instance reviewing the assignment again and using visual aids such as charts and diagrams can come in handy, as well as evaluating the assignment from a new perspective. These approaches combined with recommendations to further the student’s writing abilities will lead to an advancement in his/her writing career.
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I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier discussion that kind of petered out about the titles used for writing center workers. Please take a moment and vote! If you don't have an account on the forum, you can register for one by clicking on the "Register" link (next to the rocket icon in the top-right of the page.) Don't forget to state your institutional affiliation when you request and account. (That's how the IWCA Forum keeps out spam accounts.)
By Lori Brock
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As a frightened freshman, I wandered deep in the bowels of the library basement. My eyes darted from room number to room number, looking for the aid my professor promised I could find. At the end of the hall, a golden light shone from an open doorway. My approach was slow and I lingered on the threshold. All uncertainty vanished when I was greeted with a smile and welcomed into the new world of the Tutoring Center. At the time, I did not know I would spend most of my weekdays in that room as a senior or how mundane this new world would become. How could I? I didn’t even know how much insight I would receive from my tutor that day! Being a learner in the writing center is a wholly different experience than being a tutor, yet I know many of my colleagues have not had the same learning experiences that I have. I think this is unfortunate because there is much that a tutor can gain from being a learner. It was my freshman year of college and everything was new. For me, that meant that fear