April 25, 2022
Something that stood out as important to me this semester was the value of recurring appointments. Throughout the previous semester I had very few repeat appointments, those being primarily from my embedded English class. During the spring semester of 2022 the majority of my appointments were recurring which provided the opportunity to see large improvements over the course of several months. Rather than focusing on small rushed tasks over a brief 30 minute period, a larger intentional focus was placed on general writing improvement over a larger period of time.
For embedded Writing 100 students it was encouraging to see a large increase in the application of learning to their writing. This class begins the semester by combatting the question; what is a thesis statement? From this base level students began constructing paragraphs with a thesis statement and moving onto argumentative paragraphs. Having students book appointments from the very beginning of this process ensured that the clear progression was evident to the tutor. Practicing how to concisely state an argument, and sum up a paragraph was essential for reaching the next step in their writing. Repeated practice has been shown to increase skill, whether in regards to writing or language learning (Hidalgo & del Pilar Garcia Mayo, 2021). By practicing constructing unrelated thesis statements prior to handing in official assignments, repeat writing 100 students were able to expand their understanding beyond what a thesis statement is to what makes a thesis statement effective. To conclude, the writing 100 class was required to complete a research essay incorporating previous elements from the course; this included strong thesis statements and topic sentences. By this point in the course, students that I had been seeing consistently had a stronger foundation, generally, than those who were coming for help for the first time.
With biology lab students, rather than working on a progression based syllabus, repeating students were able to focus on improving their scientific writing with each visit. Scientific writing has different requirements than other styles commonly employed in the humanities. For first year students, often engaging with scientific writing for the first time, practice and instruction is extremely beneficial to their understanding. During a first visit for a lab report the most important task is comparing the report to the assignment instructions and making sure all required elements are included. Once this is completed figures and tables are checked to ensure correct formatting. Oftentimes this will take up the 30 minute span of an appointment, meaning scientific writing itself is not the focal point. As students came for multiple appointments we were able to work on the finer points of writing which benefited the student.
Having recurring appointments over the course of the semester demonstrated to me the benefit of repetition. Together we could move from higher order tasks to lower order tasks which improved the quality of writing for each student. Knowing what to look for within the paper of specific students, as well as strengths and weaknesses, allowed for a more intentional focus during appointments.
Hidalgo, M. A., & del Pilar Garcia Mayo, M. (2021). The influence of task repetition type on young EFL learners’ attention to form, Language Teaching Research, 25(4), 565-586.