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.
During the year of working as a Writing Consultant at the American University of Kuwait, almost all of our training sessions consisted of questions along the lines of "What are some of the problems or challenges that you face during sessions?" or "How do you deal with different personalities or characters during sessions?"
Well, the most problematic situation that I personally faced was holding sessions with unresponsive, passive and inactive students. At first, it was extremely difficult to lure them in the session and make them realise that their participation is needed, but later on, as a writing consultant, I soon realised the necessary techniques to get the student engaged in the session. Ask them to read. Ask them to write and take notes. Ask them to suggest synonyms.
Not only is this helpful, but I noticed that the consultant's body language is very vital in a session. The readings that our staff assigned us helped me recognise its true importance. Sitti…
I began working at the American University
of Kuwait's Writing Centre (WRC) in my junior year. However, I had been well
acquainted with the WRC's work for far longer since I had frequently scheduled
appointments to have my own written work reviewed. As a student consultant,
this understanding of being on the other side of the table-- for lack of a
better phrase-- has been extremely useful as I constantly try to ensure that
students gain the most out of my sessions, particularly when it comes to body
language. Just as a dialogue necessarily works both
ways, body language is also a two-way street. As a consultant, there can’t be a
worse start to a session than one in which the student lazily drags themselves
in, slops onto the chair, slides his or her paper carelessly across the table
and then proceeds to fidget with their cellphone. As a student, you know things
aren’t going to go very well as soon as the tutor forgets to greet you, grabs
your paper and begins dismantling it wit…
A problem we encounter too often as writing consultants comes up whenever we find ourselves trying to get passive students to become more engaged during our sessions. I am sure we are all familiar with the reclusive kind of students, the kind that would, once greeted into a session, promptly slide a draft across the table, hand you a pen, and give you full rein to go buck wild on their paper while they wait for you to finish, sometimes with a phone in their hands. Not only does students being unengaged during sessions make it difficult for us to gauge the problems they are facing in their papers so that we can quickly address them, but it also discourages them from learning how to independently address these problems in the future, without having to rely on the Writing Center as a form of a pit stop.
There are many techniques that can be utilized to prevent this, and the best ones usually involve body and oral communication. Exemplary peer tutor Alexandria Janney discusses some of the …
Having been a Writing Centre student consultant for 3 years at AUK, it surprises me that there are many techniques and skills that I can still learn in order to become a better consultant. Having read the material provided to student consultants by the Writing Centre staff members as part of our training, I chose to highlight upon the importance of nonverbal communication. Jennifer Arnold's piece of writing enabled me to stop and think about my body language during appointments with students. Arnold mentions the negative message that crossing arms communicates to the student by stating that crossing arms "is a defensive gesture...feeling defensive is extremely unpleasant." I realized that I often sit with my arms crossed when the students I am consulting are doing the talking or reading their work. Although it is tempting to cross my arms since they are left unoccupied while I am not talking, it communicates the wrong message to the s…