with Challenging Students
Avoid conflicts before they surface. Review Writing Center guidelines
with all new students. Ask students what they want to work on in
the tutoring session.
Don't become defensive. Student may be frustrated with the writing
process, professors' responses to papers, or bad grades. If a student
attacks you personally, focus on the underlying issue.
Clearly define the problem. Use active listening, restating the problem
in your own words and asking questions. Does the problem involve
conflicting goals? Fear and frustration? Differences in teaching
and learning styles?
Determine whether Writing Center policies limit the range of possible solutions.
A student may want a professional editor instead of a writing consultant.
Collaborate with the student to reach a solution. Ask the student
how he or she would solve the problem. Develop a range of options
with the student and choose one you both like.
Compromise when necessary; let students know when they must compromise.
On the one hand, the student's goals for the session may be different than
yours, but legitimate nevertheless. On the other hand, students may
not be able to get everything they want out of a single session because
of time limitations, paper length, or number of weaknesses in a paper.
Refer to outside help. Other Consultants, the Writing Center Director,
and teachers can offer guidance. Sometimes, you may need to refer
a student to the director.
WORKING WITH CHALLENGING STUDENTS: ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
Discuss what you would do in the following situations.
1) A student comes in with a seminar paper for a course which
you have also taken. You think the student's critical approach is
2) An ESL student brings a draft of her book review. You
notice that, in certain sections of the paper, the prose becomes error-free
and the diction shifts markedly. The students claims that she wrote
the review herself.
3) During a consulting session, your student frequently asks you
to tell him how to phrase particular points and how to structure his argument.
When you ask him how he thinks the paper should be written and organized,
he replies, "I don't know."
4) A student comes to the Writing Center and asks you to look
at her paper for clarity. As she reads her paper, you notice that
she repeats the same point several times. However, when you tell
her this, she tells you that the repetitions are distinct assertions.
Although you try to explain why you think the points are the same, she
keeps contending that they are different.
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