DEVELOPING AND RESEARCHING A TRAINING SCHEME FOR PEER TUTORS AT THE LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTRE Peter O - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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DEVELOPING AND RESEARCHING A TRAINING SCHEME FOR PEER TUTORS AT THE LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTRE Peter O

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Title: DEVELOPING AND RESEARCHING A TRAINING SCHEME FOR PEER TUTORS AT THE LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTRE Peter O


1
DEVELOPING AND RESEARCHING A TRAINING SCHEME FOR
PEER TUTORS AT THE LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY
WRITING CENTRE Peter ONeill Katherine
Harrington Savita Bakhshi Lynn Reynolds London
Metropolitan University Writing
Centre www.londonmet.ac.uk/writingcentre Write
Now CETL www.writenow.ac.uk
2
Outline of presentation
  • The need to share and discuss training schemes
  • The London Met training programme a research-led
    training scheme appropriate for our context
  • Evaluating the scheme
  • Other approaches

3
London Metropolitan University Writing Centre
Writing Mentors Scheme
  • Launched 2006
  • Part of Write Now CETL
  • Avoid duplication with existing (LDU) services
  • Student peer tutoring in writing (Writing Mentor
    scheme)
  • Aim small but high quality scheme which will
    enable us to carry out research and disseminate
    findings across the sector
  • 12 Writing Mentors
  • Approximately 800 one-hour one-to-one tutorials a
    year

4
(No Transcript)
5
Challenges of the job
  • Diversity of London Met student body
  • International students
  • Home students with English as second or
    additional language
  • Non-traditional students
  • Widening participation and retention issues
  • Around 70 percent of Writing Centre students
    claim English as additional language
  • Around 20 percent of our students are
    postgraduates

6
Need for training
  • This was a very interesting session which helped
    me believe I can attempt to advise on any piece
    of writing, no matter how large or small.
  • London Met Writing Mentor
  • Increase in peer tutoring schemes in Europe
    necessitates exchange of ideas and dialogue about
    appropriate training programme.

7
North American Writing Centre Training
  • US TRAINING MODELS
  • Summer classes
  • Spring semester classes
  • Credit-bearing courses
  • Obstacles in the UK
  • Crowded semester
  • Three year degree
  • Modular system
  • Timetabling issues
  • Students with other jobs

8
Goals of training
  • Training which can be conducted in short and
    intense pre-semester sessions when all mentors
    can attend.
  • An efficient training which will allow mentors
    to feel confident to carry out tutorials as
    quickly as possible.
  • Premised on the belief that the best training is
    on the job in an environment of sustained
    reflective practice teaching and reflecting.
  • N.B. compulsory training for the reputation of
    the scheme, we cannot let untrained students
    loose on other students!

9
Training 2006
  • FACILITATED BY MATTHEW MARTIN AND JONATHAN
    WORLEY, ST MARYS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE BELFAST,
    CRITICAL THINKING AND ANALYTICAL WRITNG CETL (NI)

10
  • Year 1 Belfast-led training
  • Sense of occasion
  • Belfast peer tutors in attendance
  • Follow-up sessions throughout the semester which
    helped us to feel a sense of ownership of the
    scheme
  • Need emerged for training which was closely tied
    in with the demands of our own context

11
Research-driven training
  • For year two, we wanted to reflect on year one of
    the scheme and use this as the basis for our own
    training for year two of the scheme
  • Goal of year 1 research
  • To investigate mentors experiences of the Scheme
  • To find out what really happens in a Writing
    Centre tutorial
  • To discover what underlies the most effective
    tutorials
  • To use the results as basis of our training.

12
Background
  • In the first year of operation (2006-07), 400
    students participated in the Student Writing
    Mentor Scheme.
  • A total of 675 hour-long tutorials were conducted
    by a team of 11 Student Mentors, including one
    postgraduate Mentor.
  • Students and mentors were asked to provide
    written feedback following each of the 675
    tutorials.
  • Mentors were asked to reflect on their session
    using the following prompts
  • How do you feel you were able to help the
    student?
  • What could have gone better?
  • The feedback was entered into a database ready
    for analysis.

13
Methodology
  • A thematic analysis of all the feedback was
    conducted.
  • The data was analysed using the principles of
    Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)
    (Smith, 1995, 1996 Smith Osborn, 2003).
  • IPA is a qualitative research method that is
    concerned with the researcher trying to
    understand the experiences of participants and
    how the participants themselves make sense of
    their experiences.
  • IPA was used to code and group the text into
    themes
  • Researchers read through the first semesters
    feedback individually.
  • The three researchers compared and discussed
    their interpretations, which helped to validate
    the findings.

14
What happens in a tutorial?
  • The analysis found 4 main themes and sub- themes

Main theme Sub-themes
1. Interpersonal relationship between student and mentor Building a rapport Encouragement/emotional support Setting expectations Non-directive enabling
2. Students relationship to own writing Confidence/anxiety Finding own voice
3. Student and mentor working together Collaborating/writing together Informal talk
4. Mentor self-reflections Challenges Satisfaction
  • These themes and sub- themes were used to develop
    the mentors training scheme for the next year.

15
Relationships between the four themes
Self-reflections of the mentors
Interpersonal relationship between student and
mentor
  •  


Student and mentor working together
Students relationship to own writing
Direct relationship
Indirect relationship
16
Day one morning
10.00 - 10.30 am Introductions Freewriting Introductions
10.30 - 11.10 am How do we help? Look at sample essay What would you say about it?
11.30 am - 1.00 pm What happens in a tutorial session? Thematic analysis summary the centrality of mentor-tutor rapport Returning mentor leads a tutorial with a new mentor based on the essay read earlier and stressing rapport / connection A discussion of ethics and virtues
17
Day one afternoon
2.00 3.10 pm The Writing Process
3.30 4.30 pm Disciplinary writing Whats unique about writing at university? Whats unique about writing in your particular discipline? How can you help students who are not in your discipline?
4.30 5.00 pm Roleplay
18
Day two morning
10.00 11.10 am Features of a good session When tutorials go well Looking at mentors reflections and analysing what was good. Looking at an ideal model of a tutorial session non-directive enabling, collaboration, patience, writing together etc. Roleplay a good tutorial.
11.30 am 1.00 pm Dealing with challenges in tutorials Analysing mentors comments where things seem to have gone wrong or where mentors faced particular challenges. Avoiding these problems and dealing with the challenges. - short tutorials - condescension and frustration - temptation to proofread - working with students wherever they are - ethics and virtues again Roleplay a challenging tutorial scenario
19
Day two afternoon
2.00 2.45pm Wiki project (cf. evolving essay)
3.05 4.00pm Revision Strategies What is revision? Global revision Surface-level revision grammar, style and syntax More on avoiding proofreading
4.00 4.30pm Visit from Learning Disabilities Unit
4.30-5.00pm Writing Centre Administration Procedures
20
When tutorials go well
  • Katya is an international student and her main
    concern was grammatical errors that she tends to
    make quite often. As it was not possible to read
    through all her final draft of her dissertation
    in the one hour, we picked the discussion as
    Katya thought this was the most muddled. She
    explained her hypothesis to me and we tried to
    structure the discussion accordingly. I showed
    her a discussion structure plan that I tend to
    use for my work. This seemed to help her I think,
    as she was able to split up her work (discussion)
    and it made more sense to a native English
    speaker (i.e. myself) compared to before. We also
    picked up a particular structure for the main
    report also. A good session overall.
  • Writing Mentors post-tutorial reflection

21
  • The student didn't have any written work and
    was not confident about his writing skills. I got
    him to freewrite about anything to help him boost
    his confidence. That worked! He was able to start
    thinking about how to tackle his piece of
    coursework. He stated that he had a lot of ideas
    in his head and I took the opportunity to allow
    him to freewrite to get these ideas on paper. The
    result A skeleton for his essay. I asked him to
    prepare a draft introduction for his next
    session.
  • Writing Mentors post-tutorial reflection

22
When tutorials go less well
  • "There wasn't much I could do outside of stating
    that the question wasn't being answered and
    suggesting ways to structure an essay."
  • I could only point out a couple of minor points
    to help.
  • We covered structuring, referencing, gathering
    material, clustering, editing, simplicity, etc. I
    felt empty afterwards and was trying not to have
    a fag to fill myself up.
  • Writing Mentors post-tutorial reflections

23
Continuing training
  • Follow-up sessions on
  • How to help with reports
  • How to help with referencing
  • Practising commenting on essays
  • Only after these sessions were mentors allowed
    to hold tutorials (usually in week four of autumn
    semester).
  • Time-tabling difficulties scheduling these
    sessions. Therefore, this year we will have a
    three day initial training which will include
    working with reports and referencing.

24
On-going reflective practice
  • She was concerned about the writing itself. She
    had done a good deal of research already and knew
    her facts. Her problem was that she got
    sidetracked by her own writing and said she
    repeated herself and was a bit all over the
    place. I suggested to write a rough draft first
    to get all the information out there and on
    paper. And then focus on getting it "fine-tuned".
    To write the first draft I suggested she
    freewrite, which we did in the session and she
    seemed very comfortable with it and realised how
    much she already knew. The session went quite
    well. It was just a bit hard to identify why she
    was here at first, as she would go off on a
    tangent and talk about some other part concerning
    her essay. Was my first tutorial and I hope I
    could help her. I think it went ok. Maybe I could
    have been a bit less directive, but she was so
    all over the place it was a bit hard. But I
    enjoyed it nonetheless
  • Writing Mentors post-tutorial reflection

25
Spring Semester training
  • How to help with projects and dissertations
    (compulsory for all year three London Met
    students in Spring Semester)
  • More on referencing
  • Above all, group reflection related to the core
    themes
  • Wiki and online student engagement tool
  • Again, training compulsory. One mentor couldnt
    attend and we decided that we couldnt let him
    teach with us.

26
Evaluating success mentors reflections
  • Analysis of mentors comments following
    tutorials in year two produced same themes as in
    year one
  • However, awareness of the importance of working
    collaboratively (e.g., working as
    enabler/facilitator, rather than
    teacher/assessor) was
  • more pronounced in mentors reflections and
    evaluations of the success of their tutorials
  • evident across all mentors, rather than
    concentrated in comments from a few

27
Comments from mentors
  • I think it went very well because she had a lot
    of ideas and how to write coming to her
    practically without my help. It was just a
    matter of getting her to think about what she is
    good at.
  • She wanted me to do more for her, but I put my
    foot down and explained that we could work on
    things together. A tiring, but productive
    session.
  • I got Sally to ask herself questions when reading
    the paper and she started evaluating her own
    work more throughout the session.

28
Evaluating success students satisfaction 1
  • Online questionnaire sent to all students who had
    tutorials in first 18 months of scheme 99
    responded
  • Students degree of overall satisfaction with the
    tutorials they have had (n67)
  • 90 very satisfied or satisfied
  • 8 neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • 2 dissatisfied or very dissatisfied

29
Evaluating success students satisfaction 2
  • What did students like most about their
    tutorials? (thematic analysis of open-ended
    comments n66)
  • 25.8 mentors approach/process of sessions
  • laughed about things like bibliographies, and
    learnt
  • about it together, as she was not sure how it
    worked either
  • 25.8 received help or feedback
  • 18.2 non-judgemental atmosphere/tone of
    sessions
  • 10.6 learnt an aspect of academic writing
  • 7.6 attitude to self/writing as a result of
    tutorial
  • 6.0 one-to-one nature of tutorials
  • 3.0 N/A
  • 3.0 dont know/one-off/other

30
Students comments
  • The session was very helpful. I really enjoyed
    discussing my paper and finding ways to improve
    it.
  • It was fantastic when I found my personal
    abilities for writing during the tutorial.
  • The session has really helped me, my mentor
    helped me understand how to structure an essay
    properly and identify strengths of mine, as Id
    only been able to identify weaknesses. The
    session has given me the confidence to believe
    that I can get a good mark on this module
    assignment.

31
Theoretical Considerations
  • This training programme is very practical and
    hands-on and largely based around reflective
    practice based on actual teaching.
  • Should we be assigning more Writing Mentor
    scholarship and theory to our tutors?

32
Student Mentors Experiences
  • Lynn Reynolds

33
Belfast-led Training
  • Jonathan Matthew's presence contributed to a
    feeling of connection with the WC scheme's US
    roots
  • Mentors from Belfast working with JD in roleplay
    and other exercises helped mentors-to-be
    experience non-directive enabling for themselves
  • Created a thoughtful, playful space to practice
    with ideas
  • Practical tips of enduring usefulness

34
London Met Training
  • Equal numbers of returning and new mentors
  • Returning mentors contributing practical
    experience
  • Induction into the evolving philosophy of the
    London Met WC
  • Working with the London Met student population
    learning differences and working with diverse
    disciplines
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