Brennan B., in response to Madison Sewell’s “The First Step: Students’ Initial Encounters with the Writing Center” In the May/June issue of The Writing Lab Newsletter.
At some point, I think most tutors have experienced a session with a student who is not there on their own accord but instead is on a mandated visit. Whether or not requiring students to come to the writing center is beneficial, harmful, or none of the above is an issue that has crossed many of our minds. In the article above, the author shares her (positive) experience with a required tutoring session and discusses the pros and cons of required visits as well as what we as tutors can do to make the most of these mandated visits. Below, I’ve summed up some of her ideas for things tutors can do:
- Ask questions about what they wrote. Favorite part of the paper? Why’d they pick that topic? Try to engage them by having them explain their paper to you in their own words.
- Compliment their writing—but make sure your compliments are genuine.
- Be interested. Students are more likely to want to collaborate and participate when working with someone who demonstrates sincere interest in what they’re writing.
- Be mindful of instructors’ misconceptions of writing centers. Some students are sent on mandated visits to have their papers proofread—which, as we know, is not an option. To remedy this, the author suggests class visits in which the tutors make their services known and break down some of the misconceptions.