Collaborate and Listen: Professor vs Peer Revision
Hello all! Gracie Trivett here. This week, we are discussing the difference between revision from your professors and from your peers (AKA, the tutors in the Writing Center!).
At Mississippi College, we are grateful to have wonderful professors in every department who want success for every student they come in contact with. The community that the school cultivates allows students to have meaningful relationships with their professors instead of just being another number.
Along with our amazing faculty, we are also privileged to have a resource in the Writing Center, where students can come for assistance and peer review at any stage of the writing process. Both of these help students build confidence in their writing and develop their critical thinking skills, but they approach the process from different perspectives.
When you have an assignment with a writing component in a particular class, it is always important to know what exactly your professor expects from you. Professors may also offer feedback on assignments so that you can improve or correct mistakes. So, if you need clarification, who better to talk to than your professor? They created the assignment and the rubric for it! However, there can be some obstacles in asking your professor about your writing. It can be difficult to schedule a meeting with them, or they may be preoccupied with questions and concerns from other students.
Furthermore, there is often the complication of unclear instruction. Sometimes, professors might use language that students may not understand. The language gap between professors and students can make it difficult to get helpful feedback from professors. However, it is helpful to know exactly what is expected from the professors to help you more clearly address the prompt.
Some tips on receiving clarification from professors are:
Email them or set up a meeting with them. Remember to be respectful of their time as they balance their classes, grading, advising, etc. Sometimes, what you need help with can be answered in an email; sometimes, a face-to-face meeting is necessary to fully explain what you are having trouble with.
Talk to them before or after class. Be sure to bring your assignment sheet if you are having trouble understanding the prompt.
Prepare! Be sure to already have a question or two in mind before asking the professor to help you understand. This shows that you have read the assignment sheet or feedback for an assignment already.
When asking for clarification on feedback, be sure to ask with the hopes of improvement, but expect general comments. The professor wants you to be a better writer! However, they are not tutors; they may focus on what overall objectives they expect you to reach.
At the Writing Center, we strive to create a safe and helpful learning environment for every student. All of our students are familiar with a variety of classes and the work for each. We can offer students help with work from a shared perspective with common goals. Your questions and concerns are always the first priority in any session, not the prompt or assignment.
In addition, tutors encourage you by providing clear, positive feedback and constructive criticism. Tutors want the writers to take initiative in their work, but we are also willing to provide additional instruction that the student may need. Though we are not as experienced as professors, our tutors are equipped to help students from any writing background at any stage of the writing process.
Some tips for utilizing peer review at the Writing Center:
Prepare to work! The tutors are going to encourage you to produce your own points and thoughts, usually through clarifying questions. These questions are not a step-by-step, but rather a round-about way of helping you produce your own opinions or arguments.
The tutor is just that – a tutor. We are not professors, but we have taken a class on how to help you. Be prepared to be met with a guided but equal approach to writing. We are your peers, and therefore offer feedback at the peer level.
Think of peer revision as a collaboration rather than a power dynamic. Tutors are not teachers, but rather springboards for your ideas and difficulties.
Both approaches to feedback are beneficial, but you will have a different experience with each. Professors can offer informed and objective feedback, while tutors will offer more specific, constructive feedback. However, if you are unsure of what you need help with, come and see us! We are always willing to work with you to discern what you need assistance with.
See you soon!
The Writing Center is located on the first floor of the Leland Speed Library across from the Gore Art Gallery.
Schedule your appointment here!
Come and see us during our hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday: 9am - 8pm
Friday: 9am - 3pm