Making Metacognition Collaborative

As discussed in blog posts and a page under the Writing Center tab, I require student tutors to create and regularly update what I call a Rule-O-Dex, a living document that addresses the challenges they encounter working in the center.

When students first start this project, I offer a list of rules, techniques, and administrative issues that they might want to cover; however, the goal is for the Rule-O-Dex to be a metacognitive exercise that encourages tutors to reflect and grow. As writing-center practitioners know, every tutor starts their first day in the center with different strengths and opportunities for improvement. The Rule-O-Dex provides a space for new tutors to create personalized solutions to what they find challenging about working with students.

Over the course of the spring 2019 semester, I have turned to Google Drive to add a new dimension to this exercise. In the past, sharing content was a challenge. Using Google Drive and Google Docs this past semester allowed tutors to view, comment, and share the work of their peers. This new connectivity has led to increased morale and allowed me to design targeted training exercises and meetings. Check out the samples below for a snapshot of the creativity the tutors brought to this project.

Deborah L. turned to PowerPoint to provide a summary of the key features of the main documentation styles, explanations of common grammar challenges, and a quick guide of administrative concerns.

Several of her peers commented on and shared her slide on coordinating conjunctions. One tutor even commented, “Now I get it! Thanks, Deborah!” Her visually-engaging content has also been embedded into our on boarding and training materials.

Click the image to the right to see her great work.

K.C. created separate PowerPoint presentations for multiple topics in her Rule-O-Dex. In the sample to the left, she models how to help students learn organization strategies. She presents a variety of ways for students to begin thinking about the best way to structure their work.

She even used her models in appointments with students, which led to a conversation with the three student tutors working with her.

Karlee V. drew upon her knowledge as a nursing major to create a how-to guide for the McCrae Nursing Reaction Paper, an assignment we see frequently in the center. All of her fellow tutors downloaded her guide and added it to their own Rule-O-Dexes to review and have at the ready.

At the end of the semester, I even received an email from the nursing department praising our work with their students.

Her handout also inspired me to have other coaches draw on their expertise to craft resources on the genres of writing we see most frequently in the center.

While I anticipated Google Drive had the potential to strengthen the connection between tutors, the new look Rule-O-Dex has led to fundamental changes in how I conduct on-boarding activities, design training and meetings, and create resources.

Perhaps most importantly, the Rule-O-Dex now models the collaborative engaged pedagogy that defines writing-center work.