Monday, September 13, 2010

A Susie Queue Session: Help with Proposals

Susie Queue, the UHCL Writing Center’s very own Virtual Tutor, gave us permission to post a transcript of a session she had with a Tutor regarding revising her proposal based upon the “How To Create a Winning Conference Proposal” tip-sheet we posted on the SCWCA website. The goal behind this posting is to help everyone create a successful proposal by showing Susie’s original proposal and how she revised it based upon the Tutor’s feedback. (Incidentally, the other goal is to introduce everyone to Susie!)


Tutor: Hi Susie! It’s nice to see you again at the Writing Center.

Susie: Of course it’s nice to see me! Lol! Anyway, I was hoping we could have a session together. I’m writing a proposal for the 2011 South Central Writing Centers Association Conference, and I just want to know whether what I have is good or not. Well, I think it’s good [wink!], but I want to be sure that the proposal reviewers think it’s good as well!

Tutor: Sure! Let me first grab our handout on “How to Create a Winning Conference Proposal.” It should help us think about your proposal. [The tutor walks away to grab the handout and returns]. Okay, let’s get started!

Susie: The title of my proposal is “Connecting with Writers in the Virtual ChatSphere.” Here’s what I say:

"Cyberspace is a very cool place (I know; I live there!), but not everyone feels comfortable working there. I guess some people don’t really want to talk in the ChatSphere with someone they think is only a virtual personality. So, one of my roles as a virtual tutor is to help writers feel as comfy chatting with me as they do with their BFF in their living room wearing bunny slippers and PJs!!! So, how do I do that? Well, first, I am very cute. It’s really hard for people to resist my smiling face and animated eyes. I also have a terrific personality, so people really like talking with me. To help make sure that I have such depth as a character, the tutors at the UHCL Writing Center worked very hard to make decisions about who I am. They created a profile for me and then posted a lot of that info onto my FaceBook page. Oh yeah, you can find me on FaceBook, hanging out. So, if the problem is how to get writers to, you know, have fun working online, then I am the solution. In my presentation at the conference, I’ll have lots of help from my IRL (in real life) tutoring buddies as they explain how to create someone who is as cool as I am!"

Okay, be gentle now!

Tutor: No worries! In fact, I think you have an excellent start on a proposal because you include most of the components of a successful proposal. I think the trick will be to make it more, how to say, professional. 

Susie: Professional?! You mean boring!

Tutor: No, not boring! But are you concerned that’s how you will come across?

Susie: I suppose I’m concerned that my individual voice, my real voice, will be lost if I start talking like everyone else.

Tutor: But we can make it professional sounding while at the same time preserving your voice. For instance, as we can see with our handout, one part of a successful proposal is to both situate one’s proposal in the existing literature and to address a problem posed by the literature.

Susie: Hey, I did that! At least the second part! I talked about the problem of making people comfortable talking with me online.

Tutor: Exactly! My only question is whether you have done any research on this problem. Have other writing center people researched online tutoring? Is the problem you address new, or have other people also grappled with it too? This part of the proposal is important because it allows you to put forth your argument as something original and unique.

Susie: Hmmm, I don’t know. But I could do some research. After all, one of the benefits of being an online personality is that I can take a quick virtual trip to all the different library databases! So is that what you mean by sounding more professional?

Tutor: Partly. Let’s talk about your language. You say that cyberspace is a cool space . . . .

Susie: Yeah, because it is!

Tutor: . . . and you have a parenthetical remark following that. Would you say that your language is more informal or formal in these sentences?

Susie: I guess more informal. [ :P ] But don’t the conference reviewers want to hear how I talk in real life?—oh, I mean virtual life!

Tutor: Well, this is the trick in academic writing. Although there is definitely a place, in part, for more conversational language during the actual presentation, reviewers are expecting a more academic, professional tone in the proposal. Can you think of a way to revise these sentences so they sound more scholarly?

Susie: [twirling her hair and biting her pencil] Okay, how about: “Although the ChatSphere is increasingly playing a central role in the services writing centers offer, many practitioners have come across a problem: how can online spaces recreate the feeling of security that face-to-face sessions offer clients?”

Tutor: Wow! That’s great! Do you see how you’re maintaining your voice while at the same time you’re sounding professional?! [Susie smiles brightly and nods her head]. Do you see any other sentences that you can rewrite?

Susie: Hmm, the sentence about how I’m so cute is already pretty scholarly . . . just kidding! Let’s see . . . what about: “One important way that Susie Queue is able to provide a comfortable experience for clients is that UHCL tutors have created her with an eye toward friendly features.”

Tutor: I’m impressed! You’ve clearly framed this sentence as an example of how you have come to solve the problem you originally addressed. I also like how you’re more objective in your tone. All you have to do now is go back over your paper, identify the other informal sentences, and rewrite them. Okay, now take a look at the handout I brought over. Do you think you have done most of what it has suggested?

Susie: I guess I don’t really address how what I’m saying is related to the conference theme. Let’s see . . . the theme is “Connect & Reflect.” But isn’t that what I’m talking about?! I’m talking about how to better connect with students and have collaborative sessions online! I will also be reflecting on my experiences with conference attendees!

Tutor: You’re right! But how are you going to support your claim that you have been able to better connect with students?

Susie: But once people see my sparkling eyes, won’t they see why I’ve been able to connect with students? Hahahahaha! [wink!] Oh, wait! Tutors have been saving my chat sessions with students, and students frequently comment on how my friendly demeanor makes online sessions fun. I could use that as my support. It says on the handout that I should briefly delineate how I will support my claims, and I could easily write one or two sentences that explain how I will draw on both my chat sessions and student responses to support my argument.

Tutor: Good! Now the only big question left is how you’re going to convince readers that your proposal is scholarly or culturally important.

Susie: But aren’t I already a culturally important icon?! Lol! Okay, okay; let’s see. Importance, importance . . . . Well, a lot of people have talked about making online spaces welcoming to students. But hey! Isn’t what I’m saying important because I am one of the first to address how to create an avatar in order to ensure that online spaces are comfortable for students?!

Tutor: That’s exactly it! Now all you have to do is rewrite your proposal with our suggestions in mind: [grabs a sheet of paper to write notes on] first, you’ll work on situating your proposal in terms of the existing literature; then, you’ll make sure that your language is formal; next, you’ll focus on indicating how you’re going to support your argument; finally, you will conclude with how what you’re saying is of scholarly importance.

Susie: Excellent! You are a super-duper-tutor!! Thank you so much!


Anonymous said...

А! Questo è stato un bel articolo da leggere, grazie per la condivisione di essa.

Susie Queue said...

Sono contento che ti sia piaciuto!