The Fundamentals of Our Fundamentals Program

 Girl Frustrated at ComputerBy Kyle Harley, Kaplan University Writing Center

Recently, while in a tutorial session, I found myself a bit taken aback by how surprised a student was upon hearing about our university’s tutorial services.  Having been sent to our center based on her instructor’s request, the student continually expressed how shocked she was that we offered additional tutorial services geared specifically toward writing: Live Tutoring, Paper Review, ELL Support, and Writing Fundamentals.  This student in particular sought help with a variety a grammatical errors; these errors became so problematic in her paper that the instructor was no longer able to understand the intent of the piece.  Because of the need for practice that these sorts of skills require, and the pressing need for the student to be able to actively participate in the academic discourse, I discussed the multiple options. The Kaplan University Writing Center offers many kinds of specialized services, but she seemed well suited for the Fundamentals services.

Our Writing Fundamentals  program is designed to provide support for students needing help with the basics of writing, those foundational skills that help writers create clear, effective texts that appeal to a specific audience.  This program assists writers who struggle with forming clear, cohesive sentences, understanding and using appropriate spelling, and getting started on college assignments.  Writing Fundamental tutors work directly with students to develop a plan for improving their writing over time.  All students will benefit from utilizing all of our services such as Live Tutoring and Paper Review.  However, some students may benefit from the Fundamentals services.

Who would benefit from Fundamentals tutoring?

Example 1: The purpose of the article is straight to the point and offers very little room for interpretation. This is most actively observed when Harley (2013) explores the importance of identifying struggling writers for their own benefit.

Example 2: I felt th that the artical was a bit boring and we decided to than discuss why it was so important in the first place but i forgot to submit my discussion board post last night so I bet I will have to do this all over again. Other then that this should be ok.

Example 1 shows a clear understanding of sentence structure, proper citation practice, and appears to have an overall grasp on writing in general.  Example 2, on the other hand, demonstrates multiple punctuation, grammatical errors as well as basic word confusion.

Kaplan University students with difficulties like that of Example 2  greatly benefit from visiting with a Fundamentals tutor.

When students come to the Fundamentals service, tutors clearly explain to students that the Fundamentals service is not Paper Review’s twin sister where the student simply sends in a paper for review; instead, Fundamentals Tutors work with students over the course of weeks—if not terms—to build their skills and make them competent writers in a collegiate setting.  This happens through phone calls and individualized tutoring sessions.  To ensure students are receiving the best help possible, we do offer multiple tutors with varying schedules.

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1 Response

  1. I love the clarification that Fundamentals tutoring at the KUWC “is not Paper Review’s twin sister where the student simply sends in a paper for review…” Fundamentals is very much like a coaching program. In fact, when students ask me about Fundamentals, I ask them where else they have heard the word. Often they say that the term “fundamentals” reminds them of the fundamentals of basketball or another favorite sport—fundamentals being the building blocks, the foundational moves in that sport, like dribbling, layups, and sprints. Fundamentals tutoring at the KUWC works on the foundational moves in academic writing, from word choice to sentence structure to paragraph development. Fundamentals tutors coach students who do writing exercises (see how that sports metaphor keeps working itself in?), and together over time the tutor-student team sees improvement in the student’s writing. Writing is a lifelong skill that involves perfecting a process. (My favorite football coach uses his own version of “process”—check it out here: ) It takes time and dedication to master the fundamentals, and with our committed tutors and enthusiastic Kaplan students, the KUWC sees improved writing one success story at a time.

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