Monday, September 09, 2013

My first (writing) tutoring session.

Matthew Kunes

My first tutoring session was quite different from what I expected.

The first thing I noticed was the class the student was in: an upper level nursing course. This tipped me off that this paper would be a bit different from what I usually see.

The paper was a mock write up of a patient's current state of health, alongside a brief of their health history. The student had collected the information in a personal interview, and simply had to arrange it according to a predetermined rubric.

Not having taken any nursing classes myself, I dived right into the paper alongside the student.

Everything I had prepared to help out with, including organization, thesis, or even formatting, went out the window. The paper fulfilled to the letter every stricture of the rubric. It filled out a healthy ten pages, which gave me plenty of time to go over it. The only thing this paper really needed was a good proofread, with some low level editing of sentence structure here and there. Honestly, that's all the student was looking for, really.

My inexperience in the nursing department showed as well. There were many points where I would ask, “Is this particular formatting typical? Is that what the professor would expect?” I was assured by the student that they knew what they were doing, having written many such write ups before, and all they needed was a second pair of eyes to catch the grammar errors. And, in between the jargon and the technical language, we had plenty of (very low level) issues to work with.

I have to say, it wasn't what I'd call an ideal tutoring session. All I could express when it was over was the hope that the student knew what they were doing.

I accomplished what I needed to, however: I sincerely believe the student left the session a better writer than before they had come in. If only that could have come without having to slog through so many hundred of comma splices and verb tense issues!

I'm guessing that the students that we have been preparing for (the Developmental English students, along with a healthy amount of 1010 and 2010 students) don't have papers assigned yet; or if they do, they haven't gotten to a point where they feel they need a tutor's help.

I'm sure it's different up in Odgen, where tutors see a lot higher volume of students go through the writing center every day. I honestly don't think that many students know there are writing tutors available on the Davis Campus. Half the time in my drop in sessions, I just help students out with their math homework, helping lighten the load on the math drop-in tutors.

I'll definitely be ready for them when the writing students come, though! Count on it!


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