Student coaching sessions: Some tutor impressions

Brigitte Sprenger | 24. June 2019

Scores of students have received individual coaching sessions with Writing Hub tutors over the past weeks.  What have we, as tutors, discovered? Here are some provisional findings:

  1. Many students wait too long with booking a session. 
    If your deadline is mere weeks away, there really is not enough time to address bigger issues. At this level of education, there are usually no quick fixes.
  2. It helps if you come to sessions with some clear goals.
    It is not possible, in 50 minutes, to look over an entire paper or chapter or even page. Frequently there will be multiple issues. In one coaching session it is possible to do an overall analysis, of course, and let you know there are issues of spelling, tenses, word order etc – but we cannot coach you on all these matters. (see point 3.)
  3. A key premise is that we’re not there to just correct your errors. 
    The learning effect is optimised if we can work with you on recognising the issues and then support you in correcting these.  (And this is why we cannot cover too much ground in one session. But it does mean, you have learnt how to be self-sufficient in this aspect in your future writing.)
  4. The most common issue? Paragraph organisation. 
    In these complex pieces of writing, you need to be super clear on what you’re communicating and developing a clear line of argumentation. And this needs to be topic by topic, sub-topic by sub-topic. A few tense errors will only marginally hamper getting your message across. But presenting a wild mix of different thoughts and topics in a paragraph will stump your reader.  So, decide what each paragraph is about and stick to that. A topic sentence helps as well.

Tags: coaching; paragraphs, tutors

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