On Mon, 25 Aug 1997, H.Kueber wrote:

>  Hi,
> I was wondering ... what do all of you Writing Tutor Trainers do about
> reviewing basic grammar skills?
> Any suggestions for a pre-test?  What you you do at your college?
> Heidi Kueber
> SUNY Buffalo

My reply,

We evaluate tutors when we interview them by looking at the structure of
their application letter, the formal application, their resume, and their
sample tutoring session.  Since most of our tutors are professionals in
their subject area, we haven't had any worries.  Occasionally, a student
will end up inadvertently asking a question that makes us gulp.  Usually,
we will admit to the student that we do not, offhand, recall the answer,
but that we will, together, look it up!  This lets the student know that
not every single English grammar rule has to be committed to memory, as
long as one knows when and where to look up rules and examples!  Most of
our tutors have also taken the Traditional Grammar class as well.  This
helps a lot.  I routinely--and in front of my students when they ask, "How
do you know all that?"--cast my eyes heavenward and thank Mrs. Cloughly,
my 8th grade English teacher for all the sentence diagramming she made us

Once in a while the tutors will get together as a group (usually after a
student has asked a "gulp" question!) and discuss that point to refresh
each other's memories.

This may not help with peer tutors, though.

When I was hired for the job, since I had no degree, only a few writing
clips and awards, I had to take a hellatious (is there such a word besides
in Oklahomanese??) grammar test.  I was told later that this test was also
given to prospective English teachers and that it was not unheard of for a
person with a Master's degree to flunk it!  That test is no longer given,
unfortunately, or I'd send you a copy. It was a bear!

I think, at the minimum, tutors ought to recognize faulty organization,
faulty sentence construction (fragments, comma splices and run-ons), and
errors in logic and spelling.  They should know how and when to use
punctuation (and when not to!).  They should know how to tutor--making the
student do the work.  I'd suggest giving prospective tutors a sample of
typical student writing and ask how they would approach the writing in a
tutoring session.  If the tutor begins with sentence one and commences to
red-pencil everything that's wrong with the essay, I'd retrain the tutor
or find someone else!

Hope this helps,

Peggy Keller
Lead Learning Assistant for English
Assistance Centers for Education
Department of Adult and Developmental Education
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute
525 Buena Vista SE
Albquerque, NM  87106

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