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Guide to Session Summaries


  • To create a record of a student’s visits to the Writing and Speaking Center (this record helps to confirm a student’s visit, and can be used by consultants and fellows to continue earlier conversations in subsequent sessions)
  • To keep track of how much the fellows’ services are used (therefore helping us fine tune these services)


Summaries should take about five to seven minutes to complete—brevity is key.

Your session summary should follow this general structure:

  1. Introduction: One to two sentences that explain:
    1. What student the brought to the session:
      1. Assignment, pre-writing, notes, outline, introduction, draft, ideas, etc.
    2. What the student wants to work on:
      1. Thesis, grammar, introduction, flow, suggestions for approaching assignment, narrowing ideas, etc.
    3. What issues you identified as a tutor in addition to the student’s own questions/concerns
    4. Example: Brian brought the outline of his research paper to check how his ideas flow. After reading through the outline, we also thought that it would be useful to refine the thesis to make it more argumentative and clear.
  2. Description of the session’s focus: Two to three sentences that explain what you did during the session and what strategies you used.
    1. Actions include: brainstormed, talked about possible essay topics, developed research question/problem, made a reverse outline, worked with evidence, analyzed an argument, worked on grammar, style, etc.
    2. Example: To strengthen the thesis, we discussed what possible problems/questions this paper might be addressing and developed potential answers (thesis statements) to these questions. We then created an outline to follow the thesis structure.
  3. Conclusion: One to two sentence action plan, or a statement about where the work ended.
    1. Example: Brian will think more about what question interests him most out of the questions discussed during the session and will revise his outline to reflect the new thesis.
  4. Proofread and click “Main Menu” to save.
    1. A few notes:
      1. Descriptions should comment on student work, not on the student.
        1. “The student has organizational problems.” (BAD)
        2. “We worked toward developing a purposeful organization for the paper.” (GOOD)
      2. Description shouldn’t judge the student or his/her work.
        1. “The essay has organizational problems.” (BAD)
        2. “The student noted concerns about the essay’s organization.” (GOOD)
      3. Use collaborative pronouns (“we”, “us”) to reflect the collaborative nature of the sessions.
        1. “We discussed several organizational patterns.”
      4. Tutors should, however, use “I” to mark suggestions that the student may then consider
        1. “I suggested a range of organizational strategies for the student to consider.”