Goals and Goal Setting

Advice about Assignments

On Using the Resources for Writers

Selecting Readings

Print-Friendly Page Print Page

Teacher Advice: Narrative Two - Academic Piece on a Significant Experience

This assignment is the first time you're asking your student to bridge the gap between "writer-based" and "reader-based" prose. The model(s) you've discussed should help the writer begin to see the difference between personal writing and academic writing, but don't expect this to translate easily into their own writing.

The goals of this assignment are:

Suggestions for responding to this assignment: Continue to be positive and encouraging. Start the session by discussing what the writer has done well. Then, start to talk about how this piece compares to the conventions of academic writing you've been discussing. You might compare this draft to the last piece & talk about what the student decided to change and why. Then you might compare it to the other (academic) piece and talk about relative strengths and weaknesses. The goal should be to come up with a revision plan together. As always, stay focused on the big stuff & only discuss sentence-level editing if the other elements of effective writing are relatively strong or if sentence-level errors distract from the meaning.

How long to stick with this assignment: You want the writer to get a sense of academic conventions, so it will be most effective for most tutees if you can stick with this through one or two revisions. On the other hand, this is the starting point and not necessarily a piece that will end up in the student's portfolio. Don't feel like this has to be "perfect" - just stay with it until you (and the student) see a significant difference between Narratives 1 and 2. Also, look out for signs of fatigue or extreme boredom (they've been working on this essay for much longer than they've probably worked on any other piece of writing) and be sure to use that as a factor in deciding when to move on, too.

Narrative 2: Academic Piece on a Significant Experience

For this essay you're going to use the same situation that you wrote about in Narrative 1, but this time you'll revise it for a different audience. Using the "academic" piece you read as a model, as well as the suggestions you've received from your tutor and from other students on the web forum, revise your piece to reflect the academic conventions of purpose, focus, development and organization.

The question you'll answer is the same as last time: "How has a this experience changed me?"

You're answering it for an academic audience. In other words, like (name of person whose narrative they've read), you want to say something about a significant experience in this paper that has implications for your advisor, your teachers, or other students who want to get to know you better. In order for your audience to hear what you have to say, though, you need to give it to them in a form they'll understand. That includes conventions like a thesis statement-one main focused idea-sufficient development, complete sentences, etc.

The goals are to make your point as strongly as possible by (1) staying focused on one significant experience, (2) keep to the purpose of showing how that experience changed you, and (3) showing the change rather than just telling your readers about it, by using vivid, concrete details.

If you're having trouble getting started, try some of the exercises in the "Generating Ideas," "Finding/Expressing Main Ideas," and "Developing Ideas" sections at the back of this resource packet, or ask your tutor for ideas.