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Effective Student Conferences

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Many students come to Stanford having never had a one-to-one conversation about their writing with their instructor. The conferencing model is integral to our pedagogy in PWR because we guarantee that every student will have a teaching that talks to them about their writing in a customized and individualized learning moment.

This conversational approach to how we teach writing, rhetoric, and presentation underscores the idea of writing as a process – that students are working to become more powerful communicators rather than just working to get good grades on a set of assignments. For this reason, our conferencing model, like our approach to pedagogy more broadly, is not determined by a drive toward correctness or by the teacher’s expectations, but by student learning.

Learn More about Facilitating Effective Student Conferences

Further Reading:

Arem, Cynthia. Conquering Writing Anxiety. New York: Morton Publishing, 2010. A wonderful text for developing strategies for helping students deal with writer’s block and/or writing anxiety.

Cromley, J.G., and R. Azevedo. “What Do Reading Tutors Do? A Naturalistic Study of More or Less Experienced Tutors in Reading.” Discourse Processes 40 (2005): 83-113. The authors code tutor “moves” in three broad categories: instruction, cognitive scaffolding, and motivational scaffolding. These categories are helpful in thinking about scaffolding in different areas to support each student’s need.

Newkirk, Thomas. “The First Five Minutes: Setting the Agenda in a Writing Conference.” The Longman Guide to Writing Center Theory and Practice. Ed. Robert Wl Barnett and Jacob S. Blumner. New York: Longman, 2008. A classic essay on student-centered conferencing.