The Disadvantages of Online Tutoring

Most of this chapter focuses on the advantages that online tutoring offers, such as a longer allowed response time, as ease of accessibility, and the visual elements that might help a visual learner. However, if a writer is an auditory or kinesthetic learner, online tutoring may be difficult for them. It is important that we understand that online tutoring is not ideal for all students. This puts an emphasis on the tutor, rather than the technology, because the technology has its limits; whereas, the tutor has the responsibility to recognize those limits and compensate for them. This is the so-called “human element”. The human element must remain the focus of the online tutoring session and the technology itself must remain the means. The human element comes through the technology when the tutor asks directed questions such as: “What would you like to work on?” or, “What problems are you having with this essay?”.

Miscommunication is a major disadvantage when it comes to online tutoring. The connotation of the words that the tutor says might be different to the tutee when they are reading the feedback. If the feedback is unclear, then the tutee will question the tutor about what they meant. This will waste time and space in the session. It will also cause frustration between the tutee and tutor because of the miscommunication  and may leave both parties feeling unaccomplished. Specifically in our online platform, the “larger text box” creates a space that lends itself to easier text manipulation. This might encourage the tutor to simply carry out what needs to be done instead of emphasizing the participation of the tutee. Similarly, this box might also encourage the tutee to have those kinds of expectations. Recognizing the rhetorical implications of the physical space itself is necessary for combating those expectations or correcting poor tutoring habits. While there are many advantages to online tutoring, the disadvantages are worth exploring and isolating. By starting a session with the knowledge of what problems you might face, we are better prepared for them if and when they occur.


New Media and “The ‘Idea’ of the Writing Center”

Belle Lang, Katelyn Vance, Betsy Rupp, Ciera Higginbotham, and Jessica Ferrebee

Why don’t we get many new media projects in the writing center? It may be because the idea of “the Writing Center” lends itself exclusively to traditional writing rather than newer mediums. Perhaps advertising our abilities as new media tutors will increase the amount of these “high-tech” projects. Advertising the ethos of our current staff (well-informed, able to adapt, etc) will help us appear more all-inclusive. The ethos of the Writing Center and our staff deals not only with how we present ourselves as tutors (your ethos: are you well-informed, can you provide the right information or help?), but also how we understand the new media project, or rhetorical situation. New media uses the same ideas that traditional writing does. You still need to ask about audience, purpose, and effectiveness of argument. You need to ask your writer to justify their choice of aesthetic and format, and you as a tutor should be informed of the aesthetic and format of various new media projects. For example, asking the writer how they would invest their money if they had to pay a dollar for every font, slide transition, etc. is a good way to get your writer to use their format effectively. This also opens up a lot of new ways to introduce text that one doesn’t get out of traditional writing so it’s important to regulate both extremes (too much formatting vs. too little).

In addition to the challenges of new media projects, new media in the Writing Center (such as our boom in online sessions), also creates new tutoring needs.For example, tutors must maintain a strict schedule to keep the session productive. Online tutoring also raises the need for more directivity; suggestions phrased as questions may lose their suggestive power and lesson the tutor’s ethos without a person-to-person interaction.  However, there are many aspects of online tutoring that remain the same as face-to-face sessions. For instance, one thing that tutors need to remember to do in an online session is to greet their writer despite the awkward form of media. Although adjusting our methods to cater to online sessions may at first seem foreign, the increase in sessions caused by this new space allows us to more successfully aid composers in their endeavors.


More than just Pen and Paper

Kirsten and Michaela

There is a myth that surrounds writing. The idea of a hunched over man or woman at a desk with a pen and a piece of paper comes to mind when one thinks of writing. One never thinks of the man or woman on their laptop figuring out which layout is best for their new website for their gecko-sitting business.
According to Fitzgerald and Ianetta, “We have to ask ourselves whether it is really the Writing Center’s responsibility to be all things to all people.”
Now, it is impossible to be all things to all people, but we should attempt to understand the most commonly used technology. “Writing Center Scholars urge us to anticipate what’s coming next.” This is not something that Writing Centers should do because as a Writing Center we can only do something so much. Also, what if what is anticipated is not the direction technology goes in? Or, if we do training with the latest technology, there is a possibility it could be wasted training due to the technology not becoming popular. For example, Zunes were going to be the next big thing, but we are still walking around with iPads.
The same thing goes for looking at past technology. We should not be training Writing Center tutors how to operate the telegraph. With this said, we should only be tutoring what is common today. One of the things that are common are PowerPoints, Prezis, and web page development. The Writing Center should consider promoting the idea that these forms of media are writing because they are simply new forms of writing, and they should promote people to bring them in.
Overall, the argument is that the Writing Center should get with the times, but they cannot get ahead of the times, and they cannot go backwards.


Collaborative Response to Online Tutoring

Emma Avery

Tori Holifield

Daysha Humphrey

Amanda Williams

Advantages to Online Tutoring  

Some people might claim that working online might prevent people from being able to fully express their concerns or that it might prevent tutors from fully understanding those concerns. However, we would argue that it simply depends on the preferences of the tutee. For example, when working with ESL students, online tutoring can lessen the anxiety of having to pronounce  their concerns properly. It eliminates many problems that ESL students face in expressing their writing conflicts and allows for them and the tutor to focus on the writing itself. However, there are several hindrances in online tutoring that can prevent it from being considered an equal to face-to-face tutoring sessions. Asynchronous tutoring can hinder productivity. One of the biggest setbacks in asynchronous online tutoring is waiting for a response. However, with MSU’s online tutoring, this is combatted through the use of synchronous online tutoring; therefore, to a degree, the issues affiliated with online tutoring are mitigated.

Online tutoring also encourages both the tutee and the tutor to write. Lauren Fitzgerald writes, “Instant messaging and other forms of synchronous tutoring can encourage writers to write during sessions, which can help them generate text that they can use for their projects.” (179) In a face-to-face-session, many times students are waiting on the tutor to write for them. However, the medium of online tutoring scaffolds students to type. At the beginning of the session, the tutee is confronted with the reality that the session is interactive and requires writing in order to continue. In a face-to-face session, tutees will sometimes rely too heavily on the tutor to write down their ideas for them.

Another positive aspect of online tutoring is the detailed reference notes after the session. In a face-to-face session, sometimes the tutor will make notes throughout the session that the tutee may take with them. However, these notes are limited, and the tutee will more than likely forget some of the activity that took place during the session while revising their paper later. With an online session, they can see the entire session afterwards. By being able to review the entire session, they will not have to worry about remembering everything that happened or everything that was said because they will have the entire session at their disposal.

Additionally, online tutoring provides the advantage of comfort. In The Oxford Guide for Writing Tutors, Bill Chewning, an undergraduate tutor-researcher, states, “Online tutorials…allows tutors and tutees to address issues from places where and times that they feel most comfortable or “ready” to take on particular tasks” (179). Here, Chewning discusses how tutoring has changed over time, allowing to have some freedom in regards to their locale while in their sessions. For instance, a tutee can be at home in his/her bed, drinking coffee while participating in a session online. The tutee is in a comfort zone, which may allow him/her to feel more comfortable to express themselves in a way that they would not feel comfortable doing so in a new, foreign environment.


Katelyn Vance- project timeline


11/4: finish emailing professors about interviews; schedule time for the interviews

11/4: Revise interview and survey questions.

11/5: Send out survey

11/9: have all sources for lit review packet found and read over.

11/16: pre-lit review packet done

11/18: Write intro and do references page

11/21: Write lit review

11/23: have intro, lit review, methods and references done

11/24: End survey

11/29: Write findings, discussion, and begin proposal.

1/1: Give out thank you notes to professors

1/?: Finish the paper, make presentation

Next semester: Collaborate with Betsy and Annie on the creative writing workshop.

(sorry this is late. I’ve been at the doctor all day- :c strep)


Poetry Group: Plans, Tasks, and Timeline


  • Record workshops.
  • Record tutoring sessions.
  • Analyze which type of feedback is more effective.
  • Use Natasha Tretheway’s craft statement as a model study.
  • Decide which revisions to make based on suggestions in workshop or tutoring. Decide which suggestions to ignore.


  • Workshop one poem.
  • Take one poem to a tutoring session.
  • Record and transcribe both.
  • Code recordings.
  • Revise both poems.
  • Track revisions with multiple drafts of poem and Microsoft Word’s “track changes” function.
  • Write craft statements.
  • Research sources on workshop methods, teaching creative writing, craft statements, writing centers for creative writers, and writing across the curriculum.


11/09 – Meet to discuss Lit. Review

11/13 – Tutoring sessions completed

11/16 — Pre-Lit Review packet due

11/18 – Transcripts completed

11/20 – Meet to discuss transcript coding

11/21 — Meet to discuss Packet due 11/24

11/23 – Transcripts coded

11/24 – Lit. Review, Methods, and References completed

11/29 — Craft Statement completed

12/2 – Final Project completed


Sarah, Leslie, & Annie’s group post

We are studying the perceptions of The Writing Center from first years (who live on campus), to find out how and what first years hear about TWC. We will use this information to find gaps in our methods of self-promotion, in order to better serve the student body. Our ultimate goal is to create a proposal for a slot in Freshman Convocation where we are able to represent ourselves.

11/1 – Create Survey

11/2 – Get survey approved

11/4 – Send to the RD by Wednesday

11/6 – Send out to all first years

11/25 – Last day to fill out survey

11/30 – Data analysis

12/2- Tentative project completion


Our plans are to find more literature reviews of the theory of perception, self-promotion (controlling projected identity), and defining the identity of TWC. We are also looking for information on statistical methods because our method of research is an online survey. We have designed this survey to answer the questions 1. Have you ever heard of TWC? 2. How? 3. What did you hear? We would like to ask you all to take the survey as beta testers and give us your feedback on the experience.


  1. Finding literature reviews.
  2. Send out the survey.
  3. Data analysis
  4. Write Paper

Research Problem and Timeline Kirsten and Michaela

Kirsten and I are studying Engineers going to the Writing Center in order to find out why Engineer’s are not bringing in their Engineering work, so that the Writing Center can understand how we can better cater Engineers and/or better advertise that the Writing Center is interdisciplinary.


11/ 8 Survey Finished and Tested

11/11 Survey up and ready/Consent form made for interview

11/13 Interview

11/16 Pre-literature Packet

11/23 Intro, Lit Review, Methods, References

11/30 Survey Cutoff

12/2 Data Analyzed

Project Plans: Michaela and I plan to find more information about writing programs in engineering and WAC writing centers to use for our literature review. We also plan to administer a survey to undergraduate engineering students in order to find out how we as a Writing Center can cater to engineering students. Furthermore, we plan on interviewing John Brocato to see how the technical writing tutoring program for engineers helps engineering students/caters to them. With the information from the interview and the surveys, we hope to improve Writing Center practice to appeal to the engineering discipline.

Tasks: go through WC data, fill out IRB application form and edit consent form, e-mail John Brocato again to set up interview time for this week, put survey on Google Forms and get someone to send to listserv, compile sources on engineering writing, analyze sources and survey data, begin writing paper.


Project plans/timeline/tasks

Emma Avery, Tori Holifield, Daysha Humphrey, and Amanda Williams


  • This is a pilot study. The purpose of this study is to examine whether or not an exact replication of Katherine Schmidt and Joel Alexander’s study of writerly self-efficacy is needed on Mississippi State’s campus.
  • We will survey thirty students (10 first time visitors, 10 second time visitors, and 10 visitors who have been to the WC three or more times) using the PSWSES survey, which was created to examine self-efficacy on a collegiate level.
  • Then, we will analyze the data and determine whether a full replication of their study is necessary for Mississippi State University.


  • Administer surveys: We will utilize the scheduler to find our participants. We will administer the surveys in person. We will ask the participants to complete the survey after their Writing Center visit.
    • Daysha: 1st time visitors to WC
    • Emma and Tori: 2nd time visitors to WC
    • Amanda: 3 or more visitors to WC
  • Analyze data from surveys
    • Tori
  • Literature Review Packet
    • We will each find 6-7 relevant articles to contribute to the Literature Review packet.


11/3: Begin administering surveys

11/16: Pre-Lit packets due

11/20: Wrap-up administering surveys

11/21-11/23: Analysis of data from surveys

11/24: Final paper due


Quick Write 4 – Katelyn Vance

Katelyn Vance

Quick Write 4

It wasn’t hard to find four conferences I would’ve liked to attend but I was able to narrow it down to these:

  1. Workshop: The Writing Center: Home of Creative Writing- Kay Bosgraaf (Montgomery College)

I would have loved to attend this one because of my newfound interest in creative writing. I recently had a session with one of our creative writers actually, and it was super helpful. She helped me figure out what direction I needed to be going and how I should get there. In fact, my creative writing professor wrote on my most recent poem that I should submit it to The Streetcar. This is a HUGE step up from my first three poems that we worked on in the session. What makes this panel so interesting to me is that I actually went to see my professor to talk about revising some of my stuff and while I was there another student of his came in. She had tried to schedule a session at the writing center and was told that we don’t do grammar and so she opted out of scheduling a session because she believed that the tutors at the writing center didn’t know how to help her with the content of her creative writing. The professor also expressed this belief which I found kind of weird. I would love to have a creative writing program within the writing center to help with this. Maybe even specifically naming all of the creative writers that we have on staff so that people will know who can help them best (although I don’t believe you need to be a creative writer to help someone with creative writing.)

  1. Panel: A revolution for students with learning disabilities: Re-abling students by enacting writing studio pedagogy across the disciplines- Matthew Kim, Michael Riendeau, Marshall Robinson, Richard Raymond (Eagle Hill School)

One of the big reasons that I would’ve liked to go see this panel is because I understand so little of its title. I don’t really know what writing studio pedagogy means; is it a program, ideal, way of teaching? But what drew me to this panel was the learning disabilities bit. My little sister is autistic and she will be here in a couple years (yes, she’s already decided on MSU!). She has a lot of problems with writing and I worry that she’ll get thrown to the wayside amidst the abundance of composition classes required here. I’d love to know if there were some way to enact a program to help specifically with students with learning disabilities.

  1. Panel: Awaken your senses: Developing Creativity and Communication Skills through Art Intergration in Writing Centers- Kyle Cohlmia (Oklahoma State University)

This panel sounds really cool. From what I gathered of the summary of the panel, it explores the way art can help students in the early stages of writing with the emotional aspects of writing, whether that be excitement or fear. I’m really not sure how this would work but it’s a very cool idea.

  1. Panel: Shantay, You stay! Lessons from a Case Study in Partnering with an On-campus LGBTQ Center- Tammy Conard-Salvo, Jeffrey Gerding, Stacy Hall, Harry Denny (Purdue University)

Ok, this is so cool. “Shantay, you stay” is a line from one of my favorite underrated TV shows, RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s like America’s Next Top Model but with drag queens and it’s fantastic. Besides that, I think it’s super important for programs, not just the Writing Center, to be welcoming to LGBTQ students and faculty. I tried to find out whether MSU has a LGBTQ Center but I don’t think I found anything official. There’s something called Spectrum, but it looked more like a club than a center. While looking for this center, I came across a particularly troubling news article from the Huffington Post. Apparently, last year, a few football players tweeted some anti-gay sentiments about the unmanliness of being gay and how a gay man really shouldn’t play football, a man’s sport. It always hurts my heart when I see things like this, but even more so from the school that I’m attending. Without a LGBTQ center, how can we hope to eradicate these types of sentiments?

I think one of the coolest tweets I saw on the feed was “Creating better writers can’t be all that we do.” This is apparently a quote by Rahoth, one of the panelists. I think it’s a really important sentiment that I would have loved to hear him talk about. What else is there? Counseling? Sure. Support? Absolutely. But besides that, I’m not really sure what else we’re supposed to do but if there is, I want to know what. A lot of people seemed to be talking about this guy too. Some people expressed that one of the ways to meet his challenge was not to limit students to course work help only. I really like that. I don’t think that a lot of people on campus know that we can help them with non-course work writing but I think that it’s maybe something we should be advertising. I didn’t know that we did this before I had my first class with Dr. Kastner (English Studies). I would have loved to hear this guy talk because it seems that he really brought a lot of interesting ideas to the conversation of Writing Center work.