One Last Note on Mandatory Sessions…

Time seemed to escape us in class yesterday with our guest-speaker. I found the meeting very productive and felt we discussed many issues that had to be discussed at one point or another.

There was, however, one last comment I wanted to make about the mandatory sessions that I felt hadn’t got touched on; it is perhaps a unique exception to most of the issues we brought up.

A couple weeks ago a student brought in his proposal for the mandatory “step-one” in the process. He was an upperclassman and told me bluntly before our session even began he was upset with the requirement of having to come to the writing center. Obviously, my mind was already turning in that “sigh-filled” direction of “another student that doesn’t want to be here.” While this was true, the reasons surrounding it were quite different from most tutees that don’t want to be there. He got out his proposal and told me he felt he had done everything that was asked of him to the T. Always skeptical when hearing that from a student, I told him we’d read through it just make sure.

Sure enough, the paper resembled near-perfection, which raises a new matter of concern: should the students that are in the general education course (out of requirement) and are hard-working students have to bring in their papers to us? He told me he is getting heavy work-loads in classes pertaining to his major and the required WC appointment was simply one more speed bump in his path. I couldn’t really blame him. While I think peer evaluation is always helpful, the work he presented me was clearly worthy of a perfect grade. Thus, the mandatory appointment was almost viewed as a “punishment” to him for his hard work. Not that the writing center isn’t a great place to stop by, but I’m sure he felt his time could be used better elsewhere.

I just thought it was a new twist on the whole mandatory sessions discussion that we didn’t really have time to talk about. Makes you think a little more about the issue…


5 Comments

  • Kari Fritsch

    November 8, 2011

    Even with these students, there is always something to work on. Even if what they have is near perfection and you’re struggling with what to help them with, ask them about the future, then. What are they planning on doing in the future? If it’s just a thesis, then ask them about the outline. What about the research they have to do? I think there is always something to work on, even if it isn’t the thing at hand. If nothing else, then I think it is alright to allow the student to go early, and maybe only have a 15 minute session. How is the time best used?

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  • Kellan Zimmer

    November 8, 2011

    Sometime I too get papers that are very close to perfection. The student obviously had done alot of self revision themself. I agree with Kari in just shortening the session if the paper doesn’t need a lot of work. That way its sort of a compromise between the student not having the time but still making that appointment with the writing center.

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  • Carrie Trina

    November 8, 2011

    I think it would be difficult to find a paper that has nothing to work on…it just might not be the obvious problems we see everyday. I like Kari’s ideas of working on the future steps. You could also take some time and point out what the student did really well. Sometimes good writers know their writing is good because they get good grades, but they don’t know why its good. A session like you are describing would be a great place to give positive feedback.

    Reply
  • Lindsey Jones

    November 8, 2011

    I’ve had a few papers that were pretty much perfect. I usually try to ask them questions about some of their ideas to see if there is anything else they can expand on…even if there isn’t much to expand on, you can usually run into something that will at least make them think, that way they don’t (and you don’t either) feel like the appointment was a complete waste of time.

    Reply
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    April 19, 2013

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