Directive Conferences

Directive commentary is often easily identifiable. This type of commentary tends to be highly critical, spelling out exactly what is wrong with the paper and what must be done to correct it. Taking on the role of an editor, a directive consultant will freely mark up the text inserting corrections with little or no explanation. In addition, such consultants normally make the mistake of paying little or no attention to the content of the writing.

Much to the distress of current Writing Center directors, it is often just that sort of conference that students come to expect from consultants. This is inherent in students who come to consultants specifically asking to have their narratives proofread. Even more frustrating are those who wish to forego the conference altogether and expect to return to the Writing Center in an hour to pick up their work complete with corrections.

While it initially requires far less effort, directive commentary inappropriately places ultimate control of the writing process into the hands of the consultant, rather into the hands of the writer where it belongs. If it is truly the mission of the consultant to effectively aid the writer, this type of commentary should be abandoned for a more facilitative approach.

Material for this section was compiled from Stephen North's article "The Idea of a Writing Center" and Richard Straub's article entitled "The Concept to Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of 'Directive' and 'Facilitative' commentary.

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