Recommending Campus Support Services with Scenarios

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Tutoring Writing by Jake Mohan on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 licenseEach week, the inclusive pedagogy cohort that I am a member of posts on a specific topic. Recent posts have focused on food or housing insecurity, religious observances, military veterans, gender identity and expression, and cognitive diversity. Even when I knew about the resources included in these posts, their scenario-based approach has helped me to think about how I would react in response to these topics.

Each weekly post opens with a specific scenario that a teacher has encountered. Here’s an example from the message on supporting LGBTQ students:

Our class is discussing topics and writing opinion pieces related to same sex marriage legislation. There’s a wide range of viewpoints on the subject. Last week, a student revealed in his opinion piece that he is gay and is very uncomfortable with some of the perspectives being expressed—especially since very few people know his sexual orientation. How do I support this student?

The scenarios outline a situation that a teacher has encountered that results in the teacher needing support and additional resources to know what to do next. The posts continue with an explanation of possible resources and end with available campus resources. I particularly like that these messages aren’t asking me to play a game of “Guess the Right Answer.” Instead, they give me answers and model exactly what I can do next if I am ever in a similar situation.

Because of the effectiveness of this strategy, similar scenarios could be useful with students. Rather than describing situations from the teacher’s point of view, scenarios could be described from the student’s perspective and then matched with responses and campus resources that can help students. In particular, students could benefit from scenarios that explore resources students would be unlikely to know about otherwise, such as services that the Writing Center provides beyond basic tutoring sessions or how to get support from the university library. Further, I can talk about these resources without connecting them to any specific student in the class.

Using this strategy, I can give students more than name of a place or a brief explanation of its services. I can share a narrative students identify with, helping them build stronger connections to the information. What do you think? Can this scenario-based discussion of campus resources help students? How would you use the strategy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Credit: Tutoring Writing by Jake Mohan on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license

About the Author
Traci Gardner, known as "tengrrl" on most networks, writes lesson plans, classroom resources, and professional development materials for English language arts and college composition teachers. She is the author of Designing Writing Assignments, a contributing editor to the NCTE INBOX Blog, and the editor of Engaging Media-Savvy Students Topical Resource Kit.