From Marquette University Tutor Alumni

Sample Responses


From a high school English teacher:

1.) What are the most significant or meaningful skills, values, or qualities you developed in your work as a writing tutor? Please list them. For those you deem most important, could you illustrate by an episode or event that took place during your time as a tutor or a trainee?

  • Processing Skills – As a student, listening and writing were commonly practiced skills – I listened to the professor and copied down notes of profundity, only to review these proverbial phrases before writing a paper or studying for a test. When did I have or take the time to process what the professor taught me? And would I even know how to practice this skill? Being a tutor at the Writing Center forced me to practice the skill of processing. A writer would read, speak, and verbally brainstorm, as I would take notes on his ideas; however, I didn’t have the luxury of setting these notes aside only to return to them at a time of convenience and analytical readiness. I had to find and practice a skill that would fall between that time of listening and responding, but one that would have to be practiced almost simultaneously with both of these skills. Working at the Writing Center educated me in how to listen while simultaneously processing the information, analyzing what I bring to what I have just heard as much as what I have taken from it. The processing needs to be immediate and thorough, as well as effective in facilitating an analytical response.

  • Meta-communication Skills – While working at the Writing Center allowed me to practice professional discussion, as an extrovert and a pretty articulate person, I don’t think I was in much need of verbal language and presentation skills. However, working at the Writing Center aided me in developing my oral communication skills in that I was able to practice communicating about communicating. The written text is a concrete form of communication, and in tutoring sessions, it was my job to analyze this communication, while communicating to the writer about this communication. Verbally explaining written text was a challenge with which I was unfamiliar. I recall my early writing center days when I assumed the writer understood my verbal explanation of the written text – I moved too quickly and lacked thoroughness in my communicating about what was being communicated. As I progressed as a tutor, however, I noticed how developed I was becoming in my communication skills – communicating about communicating is one of the fundamental skills I use as a teacher. That ability to unite text and voice in explanation was one of the most significant skills I developed at the Writing Center .

  • Adaptation in Explanation – I tutored students who varied in level from PhD candidates to freshmen who didn’t know the essentials of grammar. No experience better prepared me for teaching than working at the Writing Center . It helped me develop as a teacher in that it made me aware of and conscious about what vocabulary was appropriate for what teaching strategy, what explanation technique was effective for what level of understanding, what analogy was productive for what experience, what pace and review was necessary for what kind of student, and what kind of connection needed to be established between tutor and student to make this a constructive and valuable session.

From a newspaper writer:

1.) What are the most significant or meaningful skills, values, or qualities you developed in your work as a writing tutor? Please list them. For those you deem most important, could you illustrate by an episode or event that took place during your time as a tutor or a trainee?

The most significant skills / qualities I developed in my work as a writing tutor are as follows: patience and listening skills, candor / directness, and problem-solving abilities. I like the question’s use of the word “develop” because none of these skills come easily to me, although tutoring gave me the opportunity to work with some intensity to begin to acquire them. Tutoring helped me to develop patience in the sense that I had to curb my nervous energy and SLOW DOWN to allow students to answer my questions and/or work through problems on their own. I had to listen to students, both what they were saying and what they weren’t , in order to get a clear sense of their needs and come up with a way to help. I worked on candor in the sense that I had to reflect to my tutees (through my questioning) my sense of the weaknesses in their papers, a task which was difficult for me, especially as an undergraduate. Finally, at the same time that it put me in the position of telling tutees things they might not like to hear (i.e., your paper needs work), tutoring helped me to develop problem-solving skills, to assist students in devising plans for revision.