Posts Tagged ‘undergraduate tutors’

WCCP: Demographics 

Age

Experience

Gender

Training

Major/Minor

Graduation

21

5

Female

No

Biology/Spanish

Spring 2014

21

5

Female

Yes

Mathematics

Spring 2014

22

7

Female

Yes

Secondary English Education/Special Education

Spring 2015

21

3

Female

Yes

Communication Arts with Journalism & Public Relations Focus/ English and Marketing Management

Spring 2014

24

2

Female

Yes

Secondary English Education

Spring 2015

20

2

Female

Yes

Professional Writing

Spring 2015

21

2

Female

Yes

Secondary English Education

Fall 2014

21

2

Female

No

International Studies and Economics

Fall 2014

19

1

Female

Yes

Professional Writing/ Creative Writing and Music

Spring 2016

21

3

Female

No

Secondary English Education

Spring 2014

20

3

Female

No

Nursing

Spring 2015

22

2

Male

Yes

Professional Writing

Fall 2013

21

3

Female

No

Secondary English Education

Spring 2015

20

3

Female

No

Mass Communication with Public Relations and Advertising Focus

Spring 2014

21

3

Female

Yes

English and Film Studies

Spring 2014

Average:

21 years old

Mode:

3 semesters

Mode:
Female

5 no

10 yes

1st: Secondary Education English
2nd: Professional Writing/English

3rd Communication

Mode:

Spring 2014

 

Writing Consultants’ Future Career Plans Writing Consultants’ Future Graduate School Plans
7 teaching public school/college English or writing 3 professional writing or rhetoric & composition
4 international/public relations; non-profit event planning 2 college or public education
2 film criticism or publishing/editing
2 nursing or optometry

WCCP: Survey

REMINDER! Do not include your name on this survey. Do not answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. This survey will not affect your tutoring status in any way.

Today’s Date:

What is your age?

What is your gender?

When do you expect to graduate?

What are (were) your majors?

What career do you plan to pursue after graduation? If you plan to pursue graduate school, what will be your program of study and institution?

How many semesters or terms did you tutor at the Writing Center?

Did you take a credit-bearing tutor training course?  Yes      No

What other forms of tutor development did you participate in? (Please check all that apply.)

___ none

___ regular staff meetings

___ regional or national conferences

___ summer workshops

___ social events

___ other (please specify)

Reflections on Your Tutoring Experience (Open-ended)

  1. What are the most significant abilities, values, or skills that you developed in your work as a peer writing tutor? Please list them.
  2. Of the abilities, values, or skills that you listed above, would you illustrate those that strike you as most meaningful by sharing an episode or even that took place during your time as a tutor or a trainee?
  3. Do these abilities, values, or skills that you are developing as a peer tutor see to be a factor in your choice of job or graduate work? Would you elaborate?

Reflections on your Tutoring Qualities and Skills (Respond and Rate)

  1. Do the qualities gained from tutoring play a role in your interviewing process, in the hiring process, or in acceptance to graduate school? How did you come to that conclusion?
  2. Would you rate the importance of your training and/or experience as a tutor in the interviewing or hiring process for your first job?
5 4 3 2 1
Very important Not important
  1.  In your future occupation(s), will you use the qualities you developed as a writing tutor, if at all? Will you elaborate? Give an example?
  2. Would you rank the importance for your future occupation of the skills, qualities, or values you developed as a tutor?
5 4 3 2 1
Very important Not important
  1. What have learned from working with the writing of others? Please elaborate or provide an example.
  2. Would you rank the importance for your future occupation of the skills, qualities, or values you gained from working with others’ writing?
5 4 3 2 1
Very important Not important

Reflections on Your Tutoring Experience (Rate)

  1. Would you please rate the importance of your writing center/writing fellow training and experience as you developed as a university student?
5 4 3 2 1
Very important Not important
  1. Would you please rate the importance of your writing center/writing fellow training and experience as you developed as a future professional?
5 4 3 2 1
Very important Not important

WCCP: Survey Cover Letter

Greetings from Towson University!

Purpose

I am emailing you because your Writing Center director informed me that you are an undergraduate tutor who has a minimum of one semester tutoring experience. If this is not the case, please disregard this email.

Introduction

I am a graduate student in the Professional Writing Program at Towson University. While pursuing my undergraduate degree at York College of Pennsylvania, I was a peer writing tutor just like you. Currently, I serve as the graduate student board representative for the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association (MAWCA).

This year, my love of writing centers and collaborative learning has culminated into a formal research project that is going to look at the long and short-term effects of being a peer tutor in college. This study is an extension of The Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project (more information can be found here: http://www.writing.wisc.edu/pwtarp/) and will assess the transferable job skills gained from the peer tutoring experience.

I plan to present this research at the 2014 MAWCA conference. I encourage you to come to the conference, which will be held at Salisbury University on April 4-5, 2014.

I will also be writing a report intended for publication that will summarize the survey’s findings. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the paper, please let me know.

How can YOU help?

I am hoping you will take time out of your busy schedule to participate in this important study. Except for your time and trouble, there are no foreseeable risks in participating in the research. The amount of time it will take will vary on your answers and experience.

I trust that the enclosed survey will provide a useful opportunity for you to reflect on your time as a tutor and as a student. Please be honest. What I’m looking for are thoughtful, candid, and detailed reflections on your experience. I know your response will be of great significance to the writing center community.

By responding to the survey and returning it to me, you are, in effect, giving me your consent to use your response as outlined above.

You are not required to complete or to sign the survey or to answer anything that might make you uncomfortable. Your status as a tutor will be in no way affected by your choice to participate or not. The responses will be coded to the master list of peer writing tutors, and should I quote you in any form, I will not use your name and will seek your permission first.

On board? Great! Here’s what to do next.
  1. Fill out the attached the survey as a Word document. Do not include your name anywhere on the completed survey!
  2. Create an email with the subject line: Peer Tutoring Survey Response
  3. Attach your completed survey and hit send.
  4. Save yourself some time. Do not include your name or a message in the email you send to me.

The last day I will accept surveys is Sunday, November 24, 2013. Please return the completed survey to me by that date to ensure your response will be part of the study.

If you have any questions about the project, you can reach me at 717-818-0861 or Cheryl Brown, my faculty sponsor at 410-704-2258 or the Chairperson of the Towson IRB at 410-704-2236.

Thinking outside the Writing Center

Composition Programs need Pedagogical Improvement

Some writing consultants gave responses that reflected on the transferrable aspects of their work. One participant stated his experience as a writing consultant taught him “the failings of introductory writing courses and high school English departments are innumerable” because some college professors and high school teachers expect students to produce verbosity and length rather than organization and logic, which are two essential skills that are needed to produce quality workplace documents. Similarly, another participant was disappointed to see that some students were not given the necessary writing support prior to attending college, which made it difficult to communicate effective grammatical choices during the tutoring session. These are common problems in writing center lore and are often highlighted in peer tutoring guides. The fact that these writing consultants identified them speaks to the fact that these are ongoing stressful tutoring situations in a millennial age.

Aptitudes Obtained

Other writing consultants pointed out the broad brushstrokes that make up the portrait of a writing center. They identified that tutoring is creativity and communication in coordination. Others recognized that tutoring broadens a person’s perspective on reality, on language, on the writing process, on conflict resolution, and on relationship-building. Overall, every writing consultant who was surveyed was positively impacted by their time spent in the writing center. The following categories, Interview Preparation and Career Preparation, will address how this impact affects writing consultants’ professional lives after they graduate and enter the workplace.

Interview Preparation

Many writing consultants identified not having much experience with interviewing. Writing center experience was viewed as a resume builder that improved confidence and increased one’s personal comfort level when interacting with new people (which is always helpful during interviews). While several writing consultants identified they gained a tool box of skills to apply to their own writing, few were able to take the next step: recognizing how to market their skills so they could secure a job or to attend graduate school. Four writing consultants identified that working in a writing center was equivalent to adapting to diversity, attending to multiple needs/disabilities, consulting one-on-one, solving conflict, and assessing student writing.

Career Preparation

When asked how writing center work prepared them for their careers, the writing consultants provided a wide range of answers. One tutor stated that “being a tutor not only helps the tutees, but helps the tutors as well.” The statement encompasses a discernible pattern that emerged in the skills writing consultants developed or the praxis they performed.

Skill-based

  • Learned to ask open-ended questions
  • Trained myself to think before making assumptions about people’s backgrounds
  • Improved communication and interpersonal skills
  • Became more personable and patient
  • Learned to provide positive praise, build confidence, give constructive criticism
  • Understood my own writing practices better by looking at my writing critically, neutrally, and objectively
  • Strengthened the ability to work one-on-one with students
  • Improved the ability to work on a team with other writing consultants
  • Developed a knowledge base in a variety of other subjects

Praxis-based

  • Hands-on teaching preparation
  • Practiced using analytical and critical thinking
  • Hands-on editing practice
  • Focused on a holistic approach to the writing process
  • Hands-on therapeutic communication
  • Relayed information in a way that could be understood by multiple people
  • Recognized that writer has his or her own voice, just as every person has his or her own strengths and weaknesses
  • Held the mindset that writing should be at the forefront of the curriculum
  • Believed in the ideal that everyone is capable of improvement

Likert-Scale Perceptions

The writing consultants’ narratives reflect their perceptions about their tutoring experience and are supported by all five Likert-scale ratings, which received positive ratings. The average, standard deviation, and mode calculations for each Likert-scale rating can be found in the Appendices section.

  • Training and/or experience as a tutor in the interviewing or hiring process for your first job.
    • Ranked somewhat important
  • Your future occupation of the skills, qualities, or values you developed as a tutor.
    • Ranked very important
  • Your future occupation of the skills, qualities, or values you gained from working with others’ writing.
    • Ranked important
  • Your writing center/writing fellow training and experience as you developed as a university student.
    • Ranked very important
  • Your writing center/writing fellow training and experience as you developed as a future professional.
    • Ranked very important

Hypothesis

Career paralysis comes from the inability to make a productive decision for the fear it may be the wrong choice amidst an overwhelming array of possibilities (Alsop 13; Winograd and Hais 193; Stein; Vermunt). Making any kind move results in the trepidation contained in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”—“in a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.” This uncertainty is a rite of passage that every twenty-something must overcome, and there is no failure: “Failure to [Millennials], in the end, is never finding their true passion” (Alsop 13).

Wearing the Tutor Hat

The way I have made my own career choice aligns with the research discussed thus far. I decided to go to graduate school to not miss out on the opportunity to achieve my dream job of being a writing center director. Where I am now is can be attributed to my time tutoring in a writing center as an undergraduate. I have learned to exhibit appropriate verbal/nonverbal communication, to finesse my organization of time and tasks, to set achievable deadlines, and to improve inter/intrapersonal skills. Additionally, as a tutor, I considered myself a wearer of many hats. I wore the hat of a consultant who surveyed students’ interests and aspirations. I wore the hat of a researcher, assessor, and mentor. I wore the hat of a third-party reader. I wore the hat of someone who engaged students’ metacognition about the writing process.

Based on the literature and my personal experience, I predicted that undergraduate tutors recognize they are gaining worthwhile job experience; however, they do not feel they are ready to enter the workplace. Their lack of confidence would stem from not learning how to apply their skills to a particular career pathway. To test my theory, I chose to replicate the PWTARP study with a new population. Instead of using alumni, I wanted to capture undergraduate tutors’ voices, perceptions, and impressions using a Likert-scale/open-ended survey to gather quantitative and qualitative data.

Population Selection

The undergraduate population for this study was limited to those working in a writing center for a minimum of one semester. Limiting the survey population to undergraduate tutors focuses on the development of transferable jobs skills whereas the PWTARP study addressed how writing center work helped alumni in their careers. Distributing the survey to undergraduate tutors serves as the start of the professional development process. The questions are tailored to spark a thought process: tutors think about where they see themselves, and more importantly, they consider how their writing center experience can help them get them to where they want to be.

The survey was sent to six colleges in Maryland and Pennsylvania (York College of Pennsylvania, Shippensburg University, University of Maryland, Loyola University, Salisbury University, and Towson University). The survey and accompanying cover letter are included in the Appendices section. The survey population consisted of undergraduate tutors who had tutored for a minimum of one semester. Once IRB status was confirmed, I reached out to the writing center directors of the colleges I planned to survey and asked for the tutors’ email addresses. I sent a mass email containing a cover letter explaining the research design with the survey attached. Tutors who completed survey and returned it to me signaled their participation and consent. Participation was voluntary with no incentive provided.

Population Size

Fifteen surveys were returned from the selected population of 100 undergraduate tutors. Considering that the survey was sent in the middle of the fall semester when undergraduates are busiest with their academic and personal time commitments, the amount of responses was satisfactory. The tutors were given a month to return the survey because the Writing Consultant Project was part of a credit-bearing course. Sending the survey at a different time in the semester with a longer response time may have gleaned more responses. For the purpose of this research study, the small sample size can be considered a pilot to test the methodologies used to determine undergraduate tutors’ perceptions of their workplace readiness and transferrable job skills. No conclusive theories can be gleaned from this data until it is replicated with a larger sample population. The trends identified, however, are vital to establishing undergraduate writing consultants’ needs in terms of their professional development.

Sample Population’s Demographics

Fourteen participants were female, and one was male. The sample population’s average age was 21, which represents the Millennial generation. One writing consultant had the minimum qualification of one semester of experience; five had two semesters; six had three semesters, and three had five or more semesters of experience.

Training is a pivotal first step of professional development, and ten tutors indicated they had taken a credit-bearing course prior to tutoring while five tutors said they did not receive formalized training. Regardless of their training backgrounds, the majority of tutors participated in regular staff meetings, social events, or regional/national conferences.

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