CAPTA Connects Tutor Presentation Recap: “A Waste of Time or A Creative Gold Mine: Utilizing Brainstorming Strategies From The Business and College World”

Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring Tutor Presentation Recaps from our 2015 Conference, CAPTA Connects. This recap is by Sophia Ennaboulssi and Isabel Aldaba, Junior tutors in the Edison Writing Center.

Brainstorming can be quite a daunting task for many writers, especially when they first begin to write, and tutees are no exception, so tutors need to be able to help tutees conceptualize various ideas. It is common for tutees to utilize the writing center to improve and build upon a draft; however, what happens when a tutee comes in with a blank paper or with many unsolidified ideas? How can tutors avoid “feeding” the tutee ideas?  How can tutors help develop or express ideas if they are unfamiliar with the subject of the assignment?

There are many situations that tutors will need to adapt to in order to help their tutee brainstorm. A tutor will encounter sessions in which the tutee may be too dependent on a tutor’s ideas, or a tutor may not know the context behind an assignment’s topic and have trouble helping to  generate concepts.  Some tutees have many ideas but  struggle in making them clear and concrete, while others do not know where to begin. Tutors will also be required to aid students with papers on various genres and subjects, whether it be a literary analysis or a thesis paper for History.  

Our presentation began with a short introduction on the importance of brainstorming. The presentation identified the possible challenges a tutor will encounter in a session that focuses on this first stage of the writing process, in which will highlight effective questions which will stimulate new ideas. Based on research on brainstorming tactics used in the business world and college writing centers, such as the one in University of North Carolina, we discussed multiple methods that will help tutees flesh out their ideas in various scenarios.

Interviews with teachers from different departments (English, History, and Creative Writing) at Thomas A. Edison High School gave us insight on particular assignments in each subject that require brainstorming. For each assignment, examples of different methods were outlined discussing why they were the most effective. Tutors will gain new-found knowledge of how they can connect business and college writing center techniques to their own tutoring sessions when helping a student during the first stage of writing. This presentation can also be really helpful to writing center directors who want to train their tutors in how to tutor brainstorming sessions and the methods they should show to their tutees.

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