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Showing posts from 2015

Get Right Back Where We Started From

PeerCentered started around 1998 as an online discussion group for peer tutors in writing centers to talk about issues that they found important.  These discussions took place on a MOO--an online textual world interface where people could text chat with each other.  The discussions were held weekly--and then monthly--and then finally sporadically, as it was seemingly difficult to coordinate the sessions with my schedule.

I was, however, going about it all wrong:  things like PeerCentered work best when peer tutors take the lead in it, and directors like me step away. Directors can provide venues and medium and opportunity for peer tutors, I think, but we should let peer tutors take it from there.

So, without further ado, PeerCentered announces the return of the regular live discussions.  This time, however, instead of a text chat, we're going to be using a Google Hangout that will allow for audio/visual and textual interactions.  Of course, such discussions won't happen spont…

Training Reflections

As I reflect on what it means to be a tutor in a diverse and inclusive environment I continually come back to our responsibility as tutors to stand strongly in empathy with our writers. To me, this is about finding some way, any way, to connect with another through the experience of pure human existence. We are there to acknowledge writers’ lives, both their joys and their struggles, despite whatever differences may exist between us. Tutors are given a window into our writers’ worlds through their work. I’m struck by what a privilege that is! We are afforded the opportunity to know these people in often personal ways; through sharing their work writers may come to feel more confident in who they are or even to a greater understanding of themselves. As tutors we help others find their voice. That is a beautifully powerful thing. What creates the opportunity for that in any relationship is the presence of empathy. It is my hope that as tutors we take time to consider what that means fo…

Final Training Reflection

At the beginning of the week, when I first introduced myself to the peers I’d be training with, the first “fun fact” I revealed about myself is that I am shy. I clung to that shyness and never really wanted to dig too deep too soon. I was sharing, but there was limit imposed by my own usual uncertainties and insecurities. 
It’s amazing how much can change in three days. During the final training session, it was very clear how far I had come along in letting go of my inhibitions, and how much my peers and I had bonded. These strangers were suddenly my allies, and I was sharing much more than I would have ever anticipated. We all reached much deeper understandings of each other and ourselves because of our newfound willingness to share without fear and to open ourselves up emotionally and intellectually to experiences other than our own.

I realized this simple process of opening up creates the tone and environment that is a critical part of successful tutoring. If both parties involved ar…

What is a tutor?

On the surface, the job of a writing tutor is simple. We fix essays for students who need help and offer feedback to assist their future writing. However, this stereotype of tutoring comes from those who have never looked deeper into the relationship between tutor and student. When a student enters the writing center, they are welcoming the tutor into their experience of life. What is written on their paper is sacred. It's their thoughts, emotions, history, and potentially the safest place for them to be who they are. It's a humbling honor to be allowed to enter their world. We journey through their headspace to learn how their mind works. Students expose the deepest part of themselves to us, bravely allowing themselves to be vulnerable. We have the task of looking deeper within ourselves and at our own experiences to form questions that prompt the student to research their own story. If the student is most comfortable expressing who they are on paper, we are responsible for k…

Tuesday's Reflection

Training resumed today with another introduction of ourselves. We met Caroline today and we went on with our training with her through google chat. We opened up our session with a video of Ant Black talking about racism and oppression. The discussion that followed after was a good ice breaker for the topic. Everyone had different opinions and experiences with racism. As for my contribution to the discussion, I talked about my experience on how people assume things about me just because I'm Asian. People stereotype Asians as smart and are intelligent with Math. But in all honesty, Mathematics is the one subject that I don't excel in. It's a subject that I hate and always struggle with and people assume that I'm a "mathlete" because of my race. I get a lot of questions from different students asking for help in math. It usually starts with "Hey, you're Asian right? So you must be good in Math" or "Can you help with Math problems?". Since…

Tuesday's Reflection

As a school that openly embraces diversity and individuality, I was stunned and saddened to hear other students tell stories of the injustice regarding race in their departments. I addressed the dance center and the issues I've noticed about the way West African classes are valued as opposed to ballet and modern classes. We discussed the importance of immersing in a culture to learn its art, and the value of broadening our perspectives when learning new things. Relating this to the writing center, I think it's important to remember that everyone has a unique voice and way of expressing themselves on paper. To aid in their writing, we as tutors must let go of our ideas of writing. Though a student might not express themselves as we do, that does not mean they are wrong in any way. We have to immerse ourselves in the mindset of the student for them to positively benefit from our tutoring sessions, which are conversations that generate creativity and thought. Our job as tutors is…

Freedom From Plagiarism: How Peer Collaboration Helps Students Master & Overcome Plagiarism

Fear and confusion combine in the minds of listeners who know all about plagiarism's negative repercussions, but are only dimly aware of its meaning. Even among scholars the topic is stressful to discuss; some time ago, as I talked with a professor about this topic, I sensed a tone of worry in his voice, as if just raising the idea of plagiarism was enough to summon shame. This fear of committing plagiarism is not a solution because it can either cause or worsen students' struggle with paraphrasing and citation, thus hurting their writing quality and their capacity to participate in our community's exchange of knowledge. Overcoming the fear of committing plagiarism principally requires understanding it through peer collaboration and acceptance—an atmosphere that, at present, are best provided by writing centers.

I mastered how to avoid committing plagiarism through practice and, most importantly, by making mistakes along the way. Despite first learning about plagiarism in s…
Writing Centers and Learning Styles
Nowadays, we all know many things affect academic achievement. One factor is learning style, a concept that has received scholarly attention more recently but has been around since the 1920s. Since the goal of the writing center is to improve the writer, part of role of the tutor becomes providing instruction in a manner that the student will comprehend. There are many different ways to offer this guidance, so I thought sharing some information on learning styles for writing tutors might be useful.
What is a learning style? Basically, a learning style isnot an ability, but a preference for learning a certain way. These preferences include the things people do to learn things (e.g., making diagrams, re-reading, practice) as well as broader styles (step by step instructions, collaborative learning, etc.). Research on learning styles shows that individuals differ in how they prefer to take in, process, and acquire new information, but much remains unkn…

Tutorers as Counselors

I've just recently climbed aboard the writing tutoring train this past November and it has been great so far! "It's a piece of cake" was my mindset when applying for the position but it is much more...interesting than what I expected.
   I am a graduate student in Rehabilitation Counseling and as I started getting into the motion of tutoring, I realized that this environment was that of a one-on-one session from a counselor! Building rapport, empathizing, listening to their problems and solving them, the whole 9 yards. It brings me great joy to help people and little did I know, this job is perfect practice for someone who is fresh out of undergraduate level of schooling with little experience of counseling.
   Although, not many people that walk through that door are the happiest campers on campus. Procrastination gets the best of most students and of course, we as tutors are expected to help in any way possible for the sake of the assignment. However, students …

Reciprocal Effort

When I first began my work at Nova Southeastern’s Writing Fellows Program, I immediately felt close to most of my students, and they have felt close to me. This has made me more eager to help them, and made them more eager to learn while they’re in class or in the studio. Productive sessions are the most rewarding part of my job, especially when students come back again and tell me how well they did and then they immediately want to begin working on their next assignment. Their intention of doing well is inspiring, and I can’t help but take this inspiration outside of the studio into my everyday life. Being close with students can also mean that their troubling sessions stay with me outside of the studio as well. When I have a troubling session with a student, where ideas don’t come smoothly, or the student is overwhelmed and shut down, I feel that I am inadequate and I also take this feeling into my everyday life, the same way I do during a productive session. I’ve been fortunate enou…

Getting from Point to Point During Times of High Traffic

Whenever I go into a tutoring session, I like to open up the thirty minute slot that I give students with a friendly introduction and a brief preface  of how tutoring at the writing center works. I’ll usually follow this up with asking them their purpose for being at the writing center. I am fortunate enough to never really have monotony in answers, as the students that I work with have a wide spectrum of concerns in their assignments, even if I happen to work with nothing but students from a single class for an entire shift at work. However, I notice that students aren’t always exactly clear with how they want me to help them, especially when we, as tutors, get into the busier parts of the semester. For the most part, days at the writing center don’t often get crowded, and the student to tutor ratio isn’t overwhelming. When times at the workplace are as such, it’s not as stressful, and you can often get a full and enriching experience with students. Lately, the front l…
Bring it BackReturn to PrewritingBy Ashley Freeman
“Welcome to the studio! You’re still working on the research project, right? What can I help you with today?” “I don’t really know. I just feel like I have too much to do and no time to do it. Can you look at what I have so far?”            “I can, but I’d rather you tell me what’s making you uncomfortable about the assignment first.”            “But, I don’t know what it is.”            What is one to do when a session begins this way? How do you handle it? Do you silently agree and take a look at the student’s paper, or are you persistent in getting some sort of answer out of them? When is it time to stop asking and turn to something else? Do you really want to read and judge their paper without setting some sort of goal for the session? These all seem like unanswerable questions, even though all of my fellow tutors reading them are silently answering them in their heads yet avoiding the “comment” button.            Some of us may tre…