Bellwether Online Tutoring Presentation 2012: It is all in how you say i
It’s All in How You Say It!“Your face is so ugly it could stop a clock!”“When I look at you, times stands still.”
In the world of online teaching, it’s all in how we sayit; therefore, being able to decipher what a student really means,understanding his needs, and encouraging him with our wordsbecome valuable tools in helping him reach his goals.
Presentation PurposeThis presentation focuses on situations that may arise betweenstudents and online tutors. Although presented in a light-heartedmanner, the topic is serious, for a teacher’s reactions and wordscan result in a student’s success or failure. Actual submissionsto the Houston Community College online tutoring service bystudents and tutors’ responses are presented. Spellings andgrammar usage has remained the same. Names have beenchanged to protect the guilty. There are many slides, but they areshort and do not have notes, for they are self explanatory.Now, with all that being said, let’s begin.
A special bond needs to be formed between the tutor and the student.This is not as easy as it is sitting down with a student. There are specificissues that online tutors, who do not have the same dynamics as face-to-face (f-2-f) tutors, must think about. A student who is face-to-face witha tutor can read the tutor’s body language and facial expressions. Sherealizes that the tutor is interested helping her improve his knowledgeand work.An understanding voice and gentle smile tell a student that this tutor iswilling and ready to help solve problems.
Online Tutoring ConsiderationsCommunicationBoundariesOver-dependenceUnreasonable ExpectationsLimited English ProficiencyBuilding Rapport
CommunicationThe questions and responses tutors post online must be carefullyformulated, and this takes a lot of practice. In an onlineenvironment, students do not always write back when they do notunderstand, which makes it difficult to measure the student’s progress.
Facing the ChallengesUnreasonable Expectations: At what point does the paper passfrom being the student’s work to the tutor’s?Building Rapport: In an online environment, it may be difficult toestablish rapport with students because there are no culturalmarkers or visual cues for online tutors.Communication: Despite these challenges, there are many waysfor tutors to show students that they care. By acknowledging whatthe students wrote, by praising something impressive, and byasking questions, tutors send the message that they value theirstudents as human beings.
When a student is online, he can only judge a tutor’s reaction to his paper bythe words used. Therefore, if the words are short and curt, the student willimagine the reaction as. or even worse, this. this, or this,
Be careful not to make the mistake of thinking the online student canread your mind. All he has to go by is the words on the screen. Healready thinks that his work is probably inadequate, and some find ithard to admit the work is below standards, let alone ask for help.Therefore, as an online tutor, you must be very careful to let thatstudent know that not only is he capable of succeeding in meetingthe assignment goals, but also that you are ready and eager to help.Be aware of the (1) lack of visual feedback, (2) communicationdelays, (3) requirement of mastery of technological tools, (4)additional work that is required with written communication, and (5)often incomplete information about assignments.
Now, we have email and texting, and with them are new unwrittenstandards of relaxed spelling and grammar rules. By accepting these newunwritten rules as permanent , we tutors will save ourselves a lot offrustration and aggravation. The only thing left to do is to learn how todecipher not only the spelling of online requests but also their hiddenmeanings.Here is some examples of submissions that we received from students.Note the use of the “new” unwritten rules.
“This is a paper" [ Reply ]Sent by student at July 20, 2006 8:01:15 AM yo, hows my essay. i hope u can read it. Translation: I am anxious to see what you think, but I am a little nervous.
“My Paper" [ Reply ]Sent by student at Sept 15, 2006 8:04:27 AM nothingTranslation: I want help, but I don’t even know what I need.
Not only must you, as the online tutor, be careful of how yougive advice, but you must also be able to decipher what thestudent is requesting and why he “asks” the way he does.Occasionally, you may find some requests offensive. Thesetypes of situations require assertiveness and self-directionon the part of the tutor.
Let’s take a look of how you, as thetutor, could respond to this student.
“If I were you, I would conference with your instructor andstart all over.”(Such advice may be meant as an earnest effort tore-focus the student. However, this may serve as amessage to the student that he is totally lost and has nochance at succeeding in reaching the assignment goals.)The student hears, “How should I know?I cannot make sense of this.”
Instead, help the student minimize learning gaps.“I see that you have some really good ideas that you want to relay tothe reader but are having difficulty with the formatting of your paper. Iam sending you an attachment that will help you understand betterhow the format of an argumentative essay should be. Once you havecompleted your second draft, please re-submit your paper. I amlooking forward to seeing improvements in your paper.”
Establishing BoundariesWhile it is important to remember that tutors cannot assume therole of instructor, it is also necessary for tutors to define their ownboundaries in the tutoring environment so that the students areaware of the boundaries. It is only natural for students to get asmuch help as possible so that their grades are high. Therefore, it isup to the tutor or the tutor supervisor to decide when “enough isenough.”
“My Paper" [ Reply ]Sent by student at Oct 25, 2006 9:04:27 PM just fix this caz i can’t Translation: I am just not smart enough to do this.
Do not be fooled, for this is not the laziest student you have everseen, nor should you be caught up in feeling sorry for hisdesperation. Be aware that this is a student who is crying out forhelp and who needs guidance.“My Paper" [ Reply ]Sent by student at Nov 7, 2007 8:29:27 PMI want u 2 fix my papr. Thanx in advanceTranslation: I have tried and tried, but I don’t know what to do tomake this correct. I feel that your doing it for me is the only optionI have left.
“As a tutor, I am not allowed to format, construct, edit, orgrade your paper. You must do that yourself.”The student hears, “You are on your own. There is nothing I can do.”
Instead, establish boundaries.The student’s attitude has been changed from frustration and fear tobeing pleased the tutor thinks that he has good ideas and has madea good beginning. By setting boundaries and letting the student knowthat he is very capable of being a successful writer, the tutoring canbegin with rapport and mutual respect.
Re: group research paper [ Reply ]Sent by andrea.brown at Dec 9, 2007 7:16:40 PMWe were told to write a scientific paper, and my part isthe Materials and methods of the experiment in the pasttense. Can you check if I followed the assignment? I ranout of connection terms and sentences to make my part flow !can u help me?
Do not be afraid to let the student know your boundaries.At HCC, a science paper is tutored by a science tutor for content and anEnglish tutor for format and grammar.Dear Student, I have read and commented on the grammar andorganization of your paper. To see my comments, select WEB LAYOUTfrom the VIEW menu in Word. Check back later to get comments from abiology tutor about the content. Im afraid that I cant help you with that.The English Tutor
Student Over-dependence and Unreasonable ExpectationsTutors should remember they are not to do the work for students.Instead, tutors should encourage students to attempt to workthrough problems after the tutor has tutored a paper and givenguides that will help the student in locating similar errors. Thefollowing slides are examples of what a student will do whenallowed to depend too much on a tutor.Notice the dates of submission on theslides that follow.
First SubmissionUnconditional Love [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 24, 2007 5:27:33 PMHi.I am supposed to write an essay on the short story I read. Ihave to discuss the patterns of development and a literaryelement.Can you please help me make my essay better?Thank You. Download attachment: E:ENG 2RD#2.doc
Second SubmissionUnconditional Love [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 25, 2007 12:03:13 AMHi can you please help me make my essay betterThank You Download attachment: E:ENG 2RD#2.doc
Third SubmissionUnconditional Love [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 25, 2007 4:17:36 PMHi I have made some more changes to my paper can you pleasehelp me make it better? Thank You Download attachment E:ENG 2RD#2.doc
Fourth SubmissionUnconditional Love [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 25, 2007 12:59:02 PMHi thereI have made the changes that were pointed out to meCan you please check for any other mistakes?Thank You Download attachment: E:ENG 2RD#2.doc
Fifth SubmissionUnconditional Love [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 25, 2007 3:45:43 PMHi I have made the changesThank You Download attachment: E:ENG 2RD#2.doc
Sixth SubmissionUnconditional Love [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 25, 2007 4:17:36 PMHi I have made some more changes to my paper can you pleasehelp me make it better?Thank You Download attachment: E:ENG 2RD#2.doc
Because of the many students that we serve and the number oftutors there are, some students “sneak” through the lines as firsttime submitters. However, we have found that doing more thantwo tutoring sessions is not beneficial to the student’s progress.
No matter what the question, the student can be guided toward success. math [ Reply ] Sent by student at Dec 17, 2007 2:54:03 PM x = y2 + 6 and y = x2 + 6. Please I want to know whether this is a function or not. Read on to see the tutor’s answer.
Re: math [ Reply ]Sent by tutor at Dec 17, 2007 3:01:23 PMIf an equation can be solved for y so that there is only one solution, then y isa function of x, otherwise y is not a function of x.In the first case, you need to isolate the y^2 term and then apply the squareroot property in order to solve for y:x - 6 = y^2+/- sqrt(x - 6) = yWhen you apply the square root property, you get two answers: plus andminus. Therefore, this is not a function of x.In the second case, the equation is already solved for y. Thus, you dontneed to do anything to it. This is a function of x.Try again now.Read on to see how thoroughness can give a student confidence to work on his on.
math [ Reply ]Sent by student at Dec 17, 2007 3:30:05 PMI can do it!
Here’s another example of a student’sfrustration.physics II [ Reply ]Sent by eddyeb at Dec 9, 2007 1:01:07 PMIm asked to find the drift speed of the conduction electrons. Im given:one free electron per atom, J= 6.5*10^-8, n=m/M, M of Al=26.98,density=2.7. Solution manual shows that n=NA/(M/density) and thatVd=J/ne. How?
Here’s another example of a tutor’s patience and encouragement.Re: physics II [ Reply ] 2) prove Vd = J/neSent by yiyan.bai at Dec 9, 2007 7:17:08 PM Suppose a cross section of A carries current I, then1) J is the current densityLets look at the information given J = I/Aone free electron per atom current I = n *e* Vd *Acurrent density J = I/A = nqVd = 6.5*10^-8 n is the number of electrons per unit volumen = m/M m is the mass, M is molecular weight e is the charge of one electron = 1.6*10^-19 Cmass density = m/volume = 2.7 Vd is the drift velocity A is the cross sectionby the solution manual: here Vd = delta X / delta tn = NA/(M/density) Vd * A = delta X * A /t = delta Volume /tbelow we try to prove the above: n * e = total charge of electrons current definition is in a time interval of delta tcompare n=m/M given the total charge/over a cross sectionand n = NA/(M/density) which asks to prove: so I = n *e* Vd *A is correctn = NA * density/Mwe just need to prove: divide A from both sides:m = NA*densitydensity = m/vol I/A = J = neVdNA * density = NA * m/vol finally we have :Vd = J/nevol = length N * area of cross section ANA *m /vol = mso you have n = NA/(M/density)
At what point does the paper pass from being the student’s work to the tutors’? Where did my ideas go? tutored tutored tutored tutored tutored
When the student’s essay has changed to reflect the tutor’s ideasinstead of his own and/or the paper contains vocabulary thatreflects the tutor’s words, the student has ceased to be the authorof the paper. When a math paper contains answers but the stepsneeded to work the problem are not completed by the student, thepaper has ceased to be the student’s work. Students often requestthat the tutor edit, fix, or change whatever needs changing so thattheir papers will make a good grade. Upon returning a student’swork, the tutor should explain that such expectations will not bemet. It is important that the tutor emphasizes that the tutor is aguide and not a grader.
Students with Limited English ProficiencyA student’s background may affect how he communicates,including the use of appropriate and inappropriate vocabulary anddiction. Online tutors may find it difficult to decide if students do notunderstand the content or they have a language barrier. Whentutoring such papers, remember that such students are unusuallysensitive to the way you respond.
A student sends in his request. argumentative essay [ Reply ] Sent by student at Aug 2, 2007 4:120:36 AM I’m not so good. please help me with my language of english grammar. Thank you a head of time. Download attachment: E:essay.rftTranslation: I know I have problems. I am glad that there is someone tohelp me improve.
“This paper has such serious grammar errors that I just can’t help you. Isuggest you tell your instructor that you have serious problems withEnglish grammar or get help from a live tutor.” By simply pointing out the serious grammar errors, the student is made to feel that there is a “mountain” that just can’t be climbed. He is already struggling, so there is no need to harp on it.
By focusing on what the student has done correctly first, his senseof accomplishment will give him the encouragement to begin“attacking” his grammar problems.“Your first draft shows that you understand the required format of anessay. Your thesis statement focuses the reader and your topicsentences reflect the main ideas of each paragraph. I did notice thatyour main grammar error is with verb tense. I have indicated some ofthese errors. After correcting the ones that I indicated, use your newknowledge to located and correct similar errors.I am looking forward to seeing your second draft.Thank you for using the HCC online tutoring service.”
With so many grammar errors, it is hard to understandwhat you are trying to say.The student hears, “This is disgusting. No one could understandthis. I may as well give up”
Instead, let the student know there is a light at the end of the tunneland that you are ready and willing to assist in his success.I made some grammar notes. Please go through the rest of your essay tosee if there are any more occurrences. Having a friend who is a nativeEnglish speaker proof read your essay will help catch some of the minorgrammar issues that are present.
Building RapportIn an online environment, it may be difficult to establish rapportwith students because there are no cultural markers or visualcues for online tutors.Despite this challenge, there are many ways for tutors to showstudents that they care. By acknowledging what the studentswrote, by praising something impressive, and by askingquestions, tutors send the message that they value theirstudents as human beings.Here are some examples.
Example 1 (Psychology): Your case study is very interesting, and youhave done a good job in describing your friend Mario. I have providedseveral suggestions for enhancements in an attachment to your report. Iwill now forward the report to an English tutor who will check forpresentation.If you need further assistance, feel free to contact Askonline. Best wishes. Example 2 (English): There were some nice ideas to build off of in the essay. You will want to go back and take a look at your word choice, word form, and general sentence structure. This will help with the clarity of your paragraphs. With some revisions, your essay will be on track. I hope that you continue using this service during the semester. Example 3 (English) : You have made a very good start with a strong thesis statement and strong topic sentences, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Your quotes from the text also provide strong support. Were you to follow MLA standards when citing these quotes? If so, please go to the site indicated in the MLA information bubble to find some examples of in-text citing. Please read the information in the bubbles carefully so you will have a strong to guide to locate and correct similar errors.
Example 4 (Psychology): Dear Student--The report is a good one, but stillneeds some work. I have provided some suggestions in the attachment.The paper will be forwarded to an English tutor for review of grammar andpresentation. Please feel free to contact ASKonline if further assistance isneeded.Example 5 (Math) : Your formulas are strong and show you wellunderstand what the problem-solving technique requires. Always reviewyour calculations before moving on to the next step.Example 6 (Psychology): Your assignment indicates that you are tochoose one topic per section of exam material. While the submitted reportis a good one, are you supposed to turn in others as well? I wanted to besure you were aware of this. My suggestions about the submitted reportare in the attachment. I will now turn the report over to an English tutor.Please feel free to contact Askonline if you need further assistance. Bestwishes.
If a tutor keeps all these thoughts in mind, the student willgo from this.
Critical Essay [ Reply ] Sent by at Nov 14, 2007 11:03:11 AMIs my grammar fine? Is my essay well-written? In this essay we weresupposed to compared two characters. the essay should bethoughtful, focused and firmly rooted in a close reading of the text.Is my work cited well-written?ThanksThe Student Download attachment: F:College CrapEnglish 1302essay2.doc
To thisSOCI 1301 [ Reply ]Sent by one pleased student at Nov 13, 2007 9:14:05 PMwow.Thank You so much.I clearly understand my mistakes now.Thanks