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Hinting at what they mean: indirect suggestions in writing tutors' interactions with engineering students

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1 Author(s)
J. Mackiewicz ; Lewis Dept. of Humanities, Illinois Inst. of Technol., Chicago, IL, USA

This study examines the frequency with which 12 writing tutors used hints in their suggestions to 12 engineering students in 13 interactions about technical writing. Of the 424 suggestions tutors made, 106 were hints. Using Weizman's model as a guide, the study describes three types of hints that tutors used: evaluations, general rules, and elisions. It also investigates the benefits that tutors receive from using those types of hints and examines the problems for students that can arise when tutors state their suggestions as hints. Combined with previous research findings, the findings of this study suggest that tutors should pair mildly negative evaluations and general rules with direct suggestions, and tutors should avoid strongly negative evaluations, i.e., criticisms. The findings also suggest that tutors can elude suggestions and provide words and phrases for students' documents but that they should only do this occasionally to model effective tone or syntax.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 4 )