Consultation Session Guidelines: What to Expect

What to Know

  • The more detailed information you can provide about what you need help with, the better prepared your consultant can be to help you. When you book the appointment, be as specific as possible in the box that says, “What would you like to work on today?”
  • If you have scheduled an online appointment, start your session by:
    • opening the scheduling software
    • clicking on your appointment
    • clicking the red text that says “Start or Join Online Consultation”
  • Audio and video for our online module will work if both student and consultant are off-campus OR both student and consultant are on-campus. If audio and video are not working when you open the session, please watch the text chat on the right side of the screen and your consultant will give you information about how to proceed.

  • Please be aware that consultants who hold sessions only in English are identified in the scheduling software with the phrase (“all in English”).

What to Bring

  • Be sure to bring any materials that would be helpful for your session. This might include:
    • Your laptop or tablet (such as an Ipad)
    • A textbook
    • Slides from your class
    • A hard copy of your paper
    • Assignment instructions

    Please note that you can also attach files to your appointment booking so that your consultant has quick access to them.

Each consultation session lasts for 30 minutes.

If the student has a challenging issue that requires more time, he or she may sign up for 2 consecutive time slots with the same consultant, if 2 consecutive slots are available. The consultants are instructed to keep strictly to the allotted time by setting a timer, and session times typically cannot be extended.


An Introductory Interview

The consultant will begin the session by asking the student a series of questions that may include:

  • The particular instructions for the problem set or assignment (it is helpful if students either bring the assignment with them or attach the appropriate file to the appointment request).
  • The student’s goal for the consultation session.
  • The particular challenges the student is facing in understanding the content or completing the assignment.
  • Questions the student has about the content or assignment.

Targeted Questions and Instruction

  • The consultant’s strategies in this middle portion of the session will depend on the kind of assignment or problem for which the student is seeking help.
  • The consultant will ask the student a series of questions designed to assess what the student currently understands.
  • The consultant will provide targeted bursts of instruction: not lectures or lengthy explanations, but small bits of information (mini-lessons) designed to help the student get to the next level.
  • The consultant will follow each mini-lesson with questions designed to check for understanding.
  • Students may also see consultants engage in:
    • Modeling: talking the student through how the consultant would solve a similar problem
    • Guided practice: having the student solve a problem, but talking them through the steps
    • Independent application: having the student solve the problem independently and then discussing how the student solved the problem and could apply their new understanding to future problems.

Discussion and Wrap-Up

  • The student and consultant will discuss the student’s next steps—a writing plan for the next draft of the paper, or perhaps a section of the textbook to re-read, or a problem set to solve with the new knowledge or skills gained in the session.
  • They may revisit the session goals to see whether or not those goals were achieved.
  • They may decide to schedule another session.

Consultants are trained to assist in the process of inquiry and to rely heavily on questions paired with targeted, brief instruction. Students can expect to work together with the consultant toward a shared goal. If students are bringing writing for feedback, they are strongly encouraged to bring the assignment prompt also. The student will be in control of the paper during the whole session. Consultants are encouraged not to suggest wording or to write anything on the student’s paper; it is important that papers not be improved beyond the writer’s ability.

The session will end with a review of what was covered and suggestions for next steps. At this point, students may decide whether or not to book another appointment for further feedback or instruction.  The consultant will complete a Client Report Form and the student will be asked to complete an anonymous feedback form (both forms are available through the scheduling system).



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