Session Notes

This week’s reading was “Commonplace Rhetorical Moves of Session Notes” by Mark Hall. This reading introduces note taking through genres, which is a familiar concept to us. Introducing a new topic through a familiar one made it easier for me to understand what exactly session notes should look like because I already understood genres and how genres relate to examples and the like. The author uses many different examples, which was a useful approach for me because I learn well through example, and the author uses examples of what typical session notes should or will look like– hence the use of genre. The use of the four different examples was a wise choice by the author because it allowed the reader to see a variety of writing styles and rhetorical strategies, which makes the examples more broadly applicable and thus, overall more useful.

The chapter also discusses the implications of the notes on the audience, which in this case would be a client. For the WSU center, this varies because our notes do not go back to the client and therefore our audience is more internal. It gives examples of the various ways in which tutors can accurately and succinctly summarize sessions in order to benefit both themselves and the client. The author organizes these strategies in a chart, which is a nice resource to have because I can quickly look back on it in order to refresh myself on how to write my own session notes. As someone who is generally organized, I love charts and the like as resources because they are a simple and concise way to reference something. This reading had some parallels to the reading on online tutoring, which makes sense because both readings deal with how to effectively and efficiently sum up a session. Although, I do think that in-person session notes are easier because there is more to face to face interaction than to online tutoring, therefore the client would have more context than in an online session. Notes from Worcester State’s writing center do not go back to the client, but if they did, the client would have more context so the tutor could say things like “as we talked about” to jog the client’s memory about a conversation that had already taken place.

This reading also included a research aspect that some of the other readings have lacked. For their study, they analyzed the strategies most frequently used by tutors. The implementation of these strategies– moreso, which strategies are implemented– show what the writing centers that each of these tutors hail from find valuable, and what they emphasize when they train their tutors. This can be easily seen through session notes, if the tutor fills them out properly, because they can be looked at to quickly determine what strategies the tutor used in the session. Through looking at these strategies, we can see what each writing center emphasizes. I had not given much thought to this before, but it follows that each center would have a different culture and a different set of valued practices. I think it would be interesting to study these centers and why their practices differ. For instance, what impacts this? Is it region, school size, population diversity, or the like? For instance it makes sense that diversity would play a role: with more diverse populations, writing centers would have to thoroughly train their staff in how to tutor through language barriers. But other factors, such as location, could certainly play a just as important but less obvious role and it could be fascinating to see how or what this role is.

Writing session notes can be somewhat intimidating, because they are the only real record of what occurred during a session. However, this pressure of writing perfect session notes is somewhat alleviated because the notes do not go to the student: the only people who will be reading our session notes understand how hard it truly is to write session notes. This turns out to be a small comfort, because overall, our fellow consultants are going to judge or misinterpret what we mean in our notes less than a client who is unfamiliar with the session notes process would.

This reading was overall very comprehensive and included every part that a tutor would need, from a full definition and explanation of what session notes are, to how they should be written, to why they are useful and what benefits they provide, such as their allowance for the tutor to reflect on the session and a reminder and reference for the student of the suggestions made by the tutor The reading also uses many different visual resources, like charts and graphs, which are useful in breaking up the monotony of the pages and also in providing quick resources that tutors can use with just a glance.

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