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February 20, 2007

3rd Tutoring Session

This tutoring session brought to mind a concept that we discussed in class, the idea of authentic listening. I heard what the student was asking me to do, look at the clarity of his paper, and instead, I allowed myself to focus on the details. This disconnect prevented me from actually helping the student make his essay easy to understand and may have only caused him to make it more complex…hmmm.

In this session, the student presented me with an essay that had a strict word limit, a limited scope, and too many details. My first mistake was to have the student read it to me rather than reading it to myself. In the past, this technique has worked well however tonight, it backfired. Instead of allowing me to understand the paper more easily by hearing it read aloud, I became confused and disoriented because there were too many unnecessary details that shrouded the main points.

My second mistake was not stopping the student from finishing the paper after a paragraph or two, and then read the paper silently to myself. Because of this, I believe I missed some important points that the writer was trying to make because his writing was very convoluted and overly specific. After he read the paper, we went over it one paragraph at a time (it was rather short) and we identified the main ideas of each paragraph and some unnecessary information that was only making his argument less clear. Although this seems like a positive step, in some paragraphs a number of details had to be eliminated leaving him with very little information per paragraph. Then, we had to create new details that connected back to his topic, which proved to be a difficult task.

Overall, we had to reconstruct parts of his paper, and make sure that the focus of his thesis was actually consistent throughout the entire paper. I think the student did receive some relevant help but at the same time, I did not really address his original concerns. I tried to help him simplify his essay to improve its clarity, but it was to no avail. There were too many details and I did not tackle the tutoring session economically from the beginning. (This description of the session does not necessarily do it justice—it was a bit more involved, but at least it somewhat conveys my sense of disappointment with it.) Live and learn. Until next Tuesday~

Posted by aimroby at February 20, 2007 09:49 PM


I have to say that I completely identify with this situation – I think that I too sometimes get bogged down with the all the details of a student’s paper and lose focus of what the student is actually asking me to help with. I hope you’re not too disappointed with this session, though, because from what you’ve written here, it sounds like you and the student actually achieved a lot of good things. I particularly liked your strategy of having the student identify the main point of each paragraph and then helping him to remove any extraneous information from the paragraph.

Posted by: flygrai at February 21, 2007 07:38 PM

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