PeerCentered is a space for peer writing tutors/consultants or anyone interested in collaborative learning in writing centers to blog with their colleagues from around the world. Bloggers here will share their ideas, experiences, or insight. To contribute to the blog, please contact Clint.Gardner@slcc.edu.
A Tutor’s Role: Avoid being Eulah-Beulah or the Village Voice
In On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft,
Stephen King writes, “In many ways, Eulah-Beulah prepared me for literary
criticism. After having a two-hundred-pound babysitter fart on your face and
yell Pow!, The Village Voice holds few terrors.” The Village Voice and Eulah-Beulah’s
of the world are not models for good tutors. A tutor is not a babysitter or a critic,
not an editor and chiefly not the writer.
at what something is not, helps to clarify what it is. A tutor is a reader and needs
to avoid becoming the writer. Writing is a form of thinking—on paper—and the tutor’s
role is to help writers
to think about their writing. It’s the physical evidence of critical thinking. Understanding
how writers organize information and helping them to rethink that information
and organization is part of the tutor’s job. One task needed to accomplish this
is distinguishing higher-order from later-order issues and prioritizing higher-order
issues first. Focus on the 3-4 most important aspects of the paper that could
be problems. These issues might not be noticeable to writers and tutors will
most likely need to bring them (skillfully) to their attention.
become aware of the issues in their papers, it’s up to them to devise solutions.
Tutors must trust writers are able to do this and not do their work for them. By
asking questions that help writers to revise and improve, a tutor guides them
to think through their work and come up with better choices. At the same time,
this tactic insures a tutor’s comments aren’t overly directive. Questions that
are open, not closed, work best and allow writers to think more deeply about
big issues in a paper doesn’t involve proofreading, editing for grammar or word
choice—a topic that writers often focus on. Leaving this later-order concern until
last is smart tutoring. It avoids spending time on sentences that writers will eventually
cut. Sentence structure, grammar and punctuation do have their place in the
tutoring session, after dealing with the higher-order concerns. At this point,
resist the temptation to become an editor. It’s best to note repeated errors, explain
the rule, and correct one error as an example. Help the writer find and fix the
additional errors. Writers won’t learn if tutors do all the correcting.
A tutor should be
specific about what works well in the paper and what needs improvement. Thinking
through ways to ask the right question is essential. What’s the author’s
position? The writer's position? What other evidence might support this? Does this example
support the writer's main idea? And always remember to give positive feedback. This is
a good example! You really nailed the conclusion! Stephen King’s how-to book
about writing warns us, “If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I
suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it…”—that person
shouldn’t be a writer's tutor.
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.)
Dear me… As a junior in college, you were just trying your best and going through the motions (like everyone else) . You wanted to fit in and emulate what you thought a typical college student should look like. Then, along came the opportunity to become a w riting c onsultant. That’s immediately when the fear started, I began questioning myself and my own personal writing. I was unsure how I, a typical college student, would have enough skills to help others. How would I manage being insecure with myself when I was supposed to be someone my peers looked to find their own confidence? When it came to your first day of work, you were sitting in the writing lab waiting for your learner to show up with anxiety pouring out of your body. It was probably the most anxious you ever got in your life - aside from applying to college in the first place. You were so excited to meet your colleagues, yet so nervous that you were going to disappoint them. Thoughts streamed through your head
Testing Online Tutoring Online tutoring may be a constant of the tutoring landscape, but the question of effectiveness remains. Which organizations are best prepared to meet the needs of students: writing centers affiliated with universities or “professional” tutoring agencies, such as Pearson-Smarthinking? It is this question I intend to address in conducting a proposed experiment. Important Background Information The concept most central to this proposed experiment is that of knowledge claims. In his book Reformers, Teachers, Writers: Curricular and Pedagogical Inquiries , Neal Lerner identifies the three primary types of knowledge claims that appear in a writing center: “writerly knowledge,” “emotional knowledge,” and “role knowledge” (Lerner 115). “Role knowledge” is arguably the most important knowledge claim (Lerner 115). While analyzing transcripts of student sessions, Lerner noticed there was a correlation between the presence of “role knowledge” claims and the “success”