Writing Content before mechanical error

The job of a writing tutor is simply helping the writer in any writing aspect, from developing ideas to giving feedbacks. There are many different theories and practices that the tutor could use to improve the tutorial experience. After observing different tutorial sessions, both as a tutee and an observer, I was able to find one approach that could improve the effectiveness of the tutorial session. In any tutorial sessions, the tutor should focus on the writing first,then help the writer to correct his mechanical errors if needed.

In order to develop this theory, I observed three different tutorial sessions. I was the tutee in one sessions and the observer in two other sessions. Two of the sessions was scheduled in the writing center, and one was scheduled privately. After observing these three sessions, I took notes of the methods that each tutors used to tutor the writer. For one of the observation, i observed a private tutoring session outside of class. During the session, there were a few things that i noticed. First, the tutor immediately corrected any errors that he found while reading the paper. The next observation, i saw a similar approach. The tutor corrected all the mechanical mistakes while reading the paper. Second, the two tutor also gave the correct grammar and punctuation and gave a brief explanations of why it was wrong. Finally, the tutor answered the writer’s concerns. In the end, it seems that these two tutor prioritize mechanical errors over contents.

The third tutor, however, used a different method. While reading the paper, the tutor circled any mechanical errors .Then, he gave some feedbacks about the papers and answered any concerns from the writers. Although one of the writer’s concern was grammar errors, the tutor focused on others problems before grammar errors. Finally after address all the writer’s concern, the asked the writer about these mechanical errors that he circled in the beginning. I noticed that the tutor only explained the errors if the writer did not know the reasons. Out of the three tutor, i found that the third tutor had the best method to help the writer with his papers. This tutor first focused on the writing contents and any questions from the writer, then he worked with the writer to help the writer learned his errors.

Why isn’t the first method that the two tutors used recommended in the tutorial session? In Writing as a Social Process: A Theoretical Foundation For Writing Center, Lisa De strongly emphasizes that the false assumption of writing affected how writers view of the writing center. The writing center has been viewed as a place to fix any mechanical errors, composition problems and grammar. This assumption creates a problem, that writer will only go to the writing center to fix any mechanical problems. Since the writing needs to have some unique individual point of view, this assumes that the writing center will take away that ownership from the writer. In any case, this is false because the purpose of the writing center is not to take away the originality of the text. The writing center is established to help writers with the writing process, give feedback and correct any mechanical error. However, its priority should not be fixing errors, but to help writers in developing their writing skills. Writers that being tutored by any tutors who focused on mechanical errors could think that the writing center only concerns about enhancing errors instead of writing contents.

Why is is also important for the tutor to help the writer identify his own error, in both mechanical and content? It is important to understand that writing is a social act. In Writing and Collaboration by Kenneth Bruffee, we think writing is an individual act because we want our writing to be distinguish from others. Our writing needs to have some ownership and individuality to be able to persuade the audiences. This assumption is not entirely false,. The purpose of writing is to communicate with a specific audiences, but we cannot take away the identity of the paper. Bruffee also said that tutor cannot tell the writer how to write. Writing is a social act because the writer write for a community, not himself.  However, the writer came to a social setting primarily to ask for feedbacks about his writing, not for corrections. Also, the purpose of a tutorial session is for the writer to have a private setting for individual concern. Because each individual had a different style of writing, the tutor’s corrections can remove the original of the text. So the tutor should focus how to get the writer to fix his errors. This way the writer could identity the identical mistakes, and remember not to make the same mistake again.

In order to help the writer identify his own errors with minimum interference from the tutor, there are many different way to help the writer.The tutor should help the student to engage in conversation. In our everyday life, we talk to communicate with others people rather than write. When the writer are able to discuss about his paper, the tutor can further understand the writer better and give more feedback about the paper. Also, the tutor can let the writer read his own writing. For my own experience, i find more mistake when reading my paper out loud than reading in my head. As mention above, speaking is more natural to most of us, and by reading out loud we can hear our mistake easier

After the individual concern, the tutor can now focus on mechanical errors. If there is a pattern of errors in the writing, the tutor could point out once then let the writer find the same mistakes. For example, in one of my writing, the tutor noticed that i keep repeating the same grammar mistake. He pointed once, explain the error and let me fix that same mistake. Also, it is important for the tutor  to not immediately fix these mechanical errors while reading the paper. For the third tutorial session, i found that circling the errors rather than fixing it immediately is a better way. I observed that the writer was able to think about his own mistake than response to the tutor immediately.

It is very natural for writer to immediately correct the mistake that we saw. However, the tutor need to not correct any errors first hand but focuses on the writing content first. This way, the writer does not feel that mechanical errors are the primary problems. Although these errors can make the writing difficult to understand, the idea that the writer try to communicate is more important. Focusing on the content first can improve the writer’s writing, while letting him find his own errors can improve the writer’s ability to correct his paper by himself.



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