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Learning Center

Theory of tutoring writing

This article from The Writing Lab Newsletter in 2007 addresses a debate among writing tutors about how involved we should get in the papers students bring. This author favors an approach where sometimes the student guides the tutoring session, and sometimes the tutor does.

Please read the article and pay attention to how the author directs the student away from micro-level issues like grammar toward macro-level issues like organization. That should be our approach as well!

ENG101: College Composition I

What is it?

Students share a story of when they dealt with code-switching.

How is it structured?

The introduction refers to a lesson they learned about code-switching, and the conclusion explains that lesson.

What is the process?

Two versions of the essay: Informal (to peers) and formal (for academics)

What is it?

Students read an article about a topic, then make their own argument in response to a prompt about the topic, using evidence from the article.

What are the common errors?

  1. Students do not take a position on the topic.
  2. Students do not respond to the prompt.
  3. Students do research outside the assigned article.

What sort of citation is required?

In-text citation is required. Works cited page is optional.

ENG102: College Composition II

Assignment: Come up with a topic

Assignment: Brainstorm research questions

  • Keep it open-ended and not biased

 

Common Error: Students write "how" questions they can't answer

Assignment: Turn in a working thesis statement

  • Make sure scope is focused and can be argued
  • Present a problem and a solution

Assignment: Create a research log and CRAAP worksheet

  • Choose 6-8 sources total
  • Choose 5 sources for the CRAAP worksheet

 

Common Error: Students find irrelevant information

Assignment: Reflection essay focused on CRAAP test

  • Tutors may not help with essay

Assignment: Create an annotated bibliography of sources

  • 2-4 sentences per source to identify source's thesis and main claim
  • Single-spaced with blank space between citation and description
  • Describe source's argument an how it fits into student's argument
  • Rubric is a checklist worth 50 points

Assignment: Complete outline template

  • Students may note that they need to find more information

 

Common Error: Students don't write problem/solution into thesis

Assignment: Complete as much of the draft as possible

  • Instructors may choose to do a peer review or to review it themselves

Assignment: Flesh out any missing ideas in draft

  • Headings need to be listed

 

Common Error: Students don't organize their papers well

Assignment: Submit final paper

  • 7-10 pages
  • Make sure there is a thesis and headings for each section

Assignment: Present research to class

  • Use PowerPoint for on-ground classes and VoiceThread/Screencast o'Matic for online

 

Common Error: Students forget to write a thesis and include sources

ENG105: Research and Argument

Assignment: Brainstorm research questions

  • Keep it open-ended and not biased

 

Common Error: Students write "how" questions they can't answer

Assignment: Create a research log and CRAAP worksheet

  • Choose 6-8 sources total
  • Choose 5 sources for the CRAAP worksheet

 

Common Error: Students find irrelevant information

Assignment: Turn in a working thesis statement

  • Make sure scope is focused and can be argued
  • Present a problem and a solution

Assignment: Complete outline template

  • Students may note that they need to find more information

 

Common Error: Students don't write problem/solution into thesis

Assignment: Compose draft and then flesh out missing ideas.

  • Instructors may choose to do a peer review or to review it themselves
  • Headings need to be listed
  • Make sure there is a thesis and headings for each section

 

Common Error: Students don't organize their papers well

Writing Bootcamp practice

You have developed writing strengths in order to qualify as a writing tutor in the Learning Center. Often, the strengths you have developed are difficult to articulate and therefore difficult to pass on to students. This training will help you to identify and communicate the skills that characterize a strong writer. It will also help you to articulate your own strengths (and weaknesses) as a writer, and to recognize the struggles that writing students consistently face. At the end of the training, you will be better prepared to guide students in their own development as writers.


Material for this training comes from the Writing Bootcamp course on Blackboard. The training is divided into the same units as the course, and many of the questions in the training will be answered directly from the course materials. However, some of the questions require that you hypothesize or construct new ideas for yourself also. Other questions will even encourage you to develop your own abilities as a writer. Keep in mind that the objective of this training is to improve your ability to teach other writers how to improve their own writing, just as you have learned to do.