Paper #2- Observation Paper


 For your second short paper you will need to observe at least three WA conferences. The conference can be in the Writing Center or with a Course WA.  The WA can be your WAIT Mentor, another WAIT, or a senior WA.  For each observation complete the following process.

1.  Prepare for observation

Prior to the conference decide whether you are going into the observation with a specific question or if you want the question to emerge from the conference.  For example, with all three conferences you might be interested in exploring how each WA negotiates the directive/non-directive continuum.  This question is open enough to allow you to stay objective with your observation.  You don’t want to have a closed or leading question such as “Was the WA too directive?” since this will probably lead you to only see certain aspects of the conference. 

On the other hand, you might want to go into a conference and just see what happens.  After the conference you should have questions that you want to explore in your paper.

2. Observe conference and take notes

During the conference take notes on what you see and hear. You may want to divide your paper in half and on one side mark what you actually see and hear and on the other side write questions and inferences you make about the observation.  It is important to keep separate what you see from what you infer.

3. Talk with the WA

If there is time after the conference you might want to ask the WA a quick question that needs clarifying.  Explain to the WA that you are going to send them an e-mail with a narrative of the observation and a couple of questions.  Ask the WA to please take a few minutes to answer the questions you pose in the e-mail.

4. Send an e-mail to the WA

Within 24 hours of the observation, send the WA an e-mail.  In the e-mail provide a narrative of the conference.  This may seem awkward discourse, but you will be surprised what you see may be different from what the WA experienced.  After your narrative ask the WA 2-3 questions about the observation.  These may be questions such as “Was that a typical conference?”, “How did you decide what to focus on in the conference?”, or “Why did you do X?” Use the questions to gain insight that you couldn’t get from your observation.  Give the WA an opportunity to address any questions or insights you had about the conference.  Be careful not to jump to conclusions about what you saw.  It is not your job to critique the WA rather you are there to learn from the experience.

5. Short Paper

Use your observations and course readings to write about the role of conferencing in the WA process.  The topic for the paper is up to you to decide, but you should have a focused question that your paper addresses.  The paper should be about five pages in length.  You do not need to include a works cited page if you only include course readings in your paper. 

Please include a copy of the e-mail correspondence between you and the WAs as an appendix to your paper.  It will make it easier to understand your paper.

First draft due:  October 28-29

Final draft due:  November 4-5