ENGLISH 494: Writing and Tutoring

Spring, 2002

Guidelines for the Tutorial Assignment


Overview. The primary purpose of this assignment is to get first-hand experience in tutoring and to encourage you to reflect carefully on that tutoring experience. For this assignment, you will tutor a student in the Writing Center under the guidance of one of the current Writing Center staff members. You will also reflect carefully upon the tutorial you conduct and write a reflective report on it according to the guidelines on this page.

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Content. There are four main steps in the assignment:

  1. Consult with one of the tutors in the Writing Center, who will act as your mentor for this assignment, and arrange to conduct a conference under the supervision on the tutor.
  2. Conduct the tutorial.
  3. Discuss the conference with your mentor tutor, who will also write a brief evaluation of your conference.
  4. Write a report/self-reflection about your conference, which you will submit as part of your portfolio at the end of the semester.

Each of these steps is discussed in more detail below. Please be sure to follow the guidelines in completing each step.

Working With a Mentor Tutor. If you have been visiting the Writing Center regularly, you should be getting to know some of the tutors who work there. For this assignment, you will need to ask one of those tutors to serve as your mentor tutor. The tutors are aware of the assignment, so they should expect to hear from you. However, they are not required to participate, so don't feel put off if you ask a tutor to work with you and he or she declines. (They are busy, and some may be unable to participate.)

Once you have found a tutor who has agreed to work with you, set up a meeting with the tutor to discuss arrangements for the tutorial you will conduct. You will need to schedule a time for the tutorial when both of you will be in the Writing Center. And you will want to take some time beforehand to discuss the upcoming tutorial: what to expect, procedures to follow, and so on. This is important: you should meet with your mentor tutor and discuss your tutorial well in advance of the time you have scheduled the tutorial itself. In fact, you should approach a tutor about serving as your mentor by the end of March at the latest.

Conducting the Tutorial. The tutorial you conduct will be like any other tutorial in the Writing Center. Your mentor tutor will either write your name in the appointments book to work with a student who will walk into the Writing Center for help or have you work with a student who has called ahead to arrange an appointment. In either case, you will be the tutor. Your mentor tutor will be with you throughout the tutorial, and you should feel free to call on her or him if a situation arises during the tutorial that you feel unequipped to handle. Otherwise, your mentor will simply observe. In working with the student writer, you should use your best skills as a writer, reader, and tutor as well as the knowledge you have gained from your work in this course.

Evaluating the Tutorial. After you conduct your tutorial, you will need to discuss it with your mentor tutor--preferably immediately after your student leaves. You and your mentor should review how the tutorial went: the writing situation you confronted, your sense of the student as a writer, how you assessed the situation, the strategies you used, how you began and ended the tutorial. After this discussion, ask your mentor for a brief written evaluation of your tutorial, which you will eventually submit with your own self-evaluation. You may decide to discuss the tutorial with your mentor again after he or she has written the evaluation. (It's a good idea to get this evaluation in electronic form to make it easier to include in your portfolio.)

Writing Your Report. The final step in this assignment is to write a report about the experience. Your report will be part of your course portfolio and should include the following:

  • a description of what happened during the tutorial, including information about the student and the writing task he or she brought to the Writing Center;
  • a discussion of how you assessed the situation and the strategies you used and why they seemed appropriate to you;
  • an assessment of the tutorial: what you did well, what you might have done better, and why;
  • a discussion of what you learned about tutoring and about yourself as a tutor from the experience;
  • your mentor tutor's evaluation of the tutorial.

In your report, you should draw on any of the texts we read during the semester that seems relevant to the tutorial you conducted. Keep in mind that the purpose of this report is to reflect carefully on the experience you had and to learn from it. You will also be demonstrating what you have learned in general about tutoring writing through this experience and how that new knowledge intersects with the activities, readings,and discussionsyou have engaged in during the semester.

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Length. Your written report should be approximately five double-spaced pages (approximately 1200 words) in length.

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Format. Since you will be submitting your tutorial report as part of your course portfolio, you should review the format guidelines for that assignment.

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Deadlines. Because this assignment is to be submitted as part of your portfolio, the deadline is the same as for that assignment, which is Thursday, May 9th. However, in order for you to complete the assignment as it is described in these guidelines, you will need to begin working with your mentor tutor as early as March, and you should schedule your tutorial for no later than the third week of April. That will give you enough time to meet with your mentor tutor to discuss the tutorial and allow him or her time to write an evaluation of it. It should also give you sufficient time to complete the report for the portfolio.

Keep in mind that the end of April and beginning of May are extremely busy times in the Writing Center. If you wait until the end of April or even early May to schedule your tutorial, it is entirely possible that your mentor tutor will be too busy to work closely with you and that you will be unable to complete the work for the assignment. That very scenario has occurred in the past.

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