Define, Model, Practice, Feedback (30-40 minutes)
Once you have reviewed the introductory paragraph and developed a sense of the student’s main issues, you should consider how best to educate the student; this often involves a series of steps that will help enable the writer to recognize and self-correct their errors in their future work. While the exact process will vary based on the student, the tutor, the error, and the time available, most of these moments utilize a series of steps, which focus on explaining, modelling, and practicing with the student. This process helps your student develop an understanding of the issue and sets them that much closer to the goal: to independently resolve the error.
Process for Working on Macro Issues
When the writing issue is on a macro scale and your student is having trouble with a larger conceptual or structural problem, your tutoring sessions may include the following steps:
1. Explain what’s missing or incorrect, and address why it’s an essential element of the paper.
2. Model (if possible) how the student should resolve this issue. Use a separate sheet if needed.
3. Have the student practice adding or correcting the issue.
4. Be prepared to provide feedback to the student. If this is a new concept to them, or something that’s finally being clarified, it may take some time for them to be able to comfortably apply the idea independently.
Remember, while these ideas may seem natural or even intuitive to you as the academic culture ambassador, they may be brand new to your student. Repeating these steps may be necessary to ensure that your student understands what they’re doing and is able to apply the concepts to their future work.
Process for Working on Micro Issues
When students are having difficulty with micro issues, the process can require quite a bit of repetition because grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure can be difficult and confusing, whether English is the student’s first language or not. Remember that it can take time to change how a student has learned an idea, and as a result, your patience is required as they internalize this new process.
As you review the first paragraph with them, keep an eye out error patterns, keeping in mind the hierarchy of issues presented earlier. Focus first on any issues that impede clarity. Consider the following steps as a guide for how to address these issues:
1. Identify error patterns in their writing. Usually, these are in the first paragraph, though sometimes they may not manifest until the body paragraphs.
2. Explain the relevant rule, skill, or technique (grammatical, punctuation, word choice, etc.), and provide tips on how to resolve the problem in future examples.
3. Model for the student how to resolve the issue. You might consider using a separate sheet of paper and employing different teaching strategies to appeal to different learning styles (see Chapter 3).
4. Repeat the identification and explanation process for several more examples. Remember, you have identified an error pattern, which usually reflects a learned error. As a result, be patient: learned errors take time to correct. However, you should edge further and further away from providing the answers.
5. Practicing with the student should reflect increasing distance by the tutor in identifying examples of the issue and in providing solutions. The more examples the student addresses and corrects, the more they’ll remember! Independent practice–in which the student recognizes the error, identifies the solution, and self-corrects–is the ultimate goal!
Remember that you want to help the student learn to identify and self-correct their errors. They are not likely going to be able to master learned errors perfectly in the course of one session. Further, they may not immediately remember what you’ve taught them from one session to the next. However, by identifying and explaining the errors, you bring the student several steps closer to recognizing and improving them independently.