Okay, I’ll admit it: I am not very familiar with research projects. In fact (actually, factually), I haven’t written a full research project report since Honors Chem II in high school. And those were lab reports. If I have done a research project since those chemistry days, I can honestly say I don’t remember it. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of my chem lab reports either. I did once make a stuffed animal mole that screamed when you hit it, though.
Anywho, having to sit down and write this research report has got me thinking about how we tutor students in specialized areas. In the first semester of our course, we discussed the pros and cons of having generalized tutors. At the time, I was a little skeptical of the whole idea of generalized tutors. I mean, I am a generalized tutor, so I know I shouldn’t be that skeptical of the effectiveness of such folks, but I still couldn’t help feeling that if I had to write something for a class outside of the humanities in non-essay form, I’d probably go to the TAs or the professor, not the Writing Center. And then I sat down to write this paper.
First though: “I have no idea how to write an effective research project.” In fact, I held off starting my paper for longer than I really should have because I had no idea how to effectively organize the beast. I recorded the facts, made some notes, and sketched a (very) rough outline, but I didn’t feel as confident in my writing as I would have if I’d been writing an essay. Starting, then, became a huge problem.
Once I finally did start, though, I encountered new problems. Which are really exactly like my old problems. I have no idea if my paper makes any sense. Sure, part of the problem is my own very loose grasp on holistic visualization and my inability to follow outlines (I have wars with organization). Part of my problem, though, is that my sentences are getting all twisty. They’re curling up on themselves, like those strange red fortune-telling fish you put in the palm of your hand. They’re acting all loopy. They’re not sitting still, darn them! And I have never used so much passive voice in my life. Is this the way my research words are supposed to align themselves?
All of this thinking about writing, and unfamiliar styles, and trying to effectively communicate a point in a different form of writing has brought generalized tutors back to the front of my mind. Would I go to a generalized tutor for this paper? Honestly, I haven’t decided yet. I do think, though, that writing this paper is giving me a chance to gain more perspective on how generalized tutors work with students. And who knows? I might just have to change some of my generalizations about generalized tutoring.