Tutor Preparation and Pedagogy

Writing Center Theory and Pedagogy: A Seminar in Peer Tutoring | EDU 490 | Washington College | co-taught with Dr. John Boyd

Course Description

The word “writer” conjures up quite a few images: a tortured literary genius scribbling out profound thoughts in a lonely garret, a quirky outsider with a gift for observation, a devoted researcher at work in the archives. However, as much as we might like to think of great writers as reclusive, isolated individuals, those images can be misleading. Even the most solitary act of writing is fundamentally social, a transaction between reader and writer.

This class is about the benefits that occur when a reader and writer interact. To help prepare you for your work as a peer writing consultant, we’ll read some key texts about writing centers as well as some of the research on the writing process that has been published over the past few decades. We’ll also consider some practical strategies you can use to help writers, and, finally, we’ll give you the opportunity to observe and practice some of the interpersonal skills necessary for conducting writing conferences. Along the way, we hope you’ll discover something about yourself and your own habits as a writer as well.

Sample readings

  • Bird, “Rethinking our View of Learning.”
  • Clark, Irene, “Addressing Genre in the Writing Center”
  • Selected essays from Wardle and Downs, Writing About Writing: A College Reader.

Sample Project Prompt Excerpt

For the final writing project, you’ll write a researched essay wherein you attempt to respond to the particular question, problem, or point of tension you’ve encountered in your experience (thus far) with Writing Center work and the scholarship we’ve read together. Your essay will present ideas that will have meaningful implications for your own practice as well as other peer writing tutors. There are plenty of publications (e.g. Praxis, The Writing Lab Newsletter) that welcome articles from peer tutors, so you might conceive of your process as preparing to submit to the editors of these types of publications.

Your essay should begin with a brief literature review and ultimately present an argument that attempts to begin to address a gap or limitation in the literature or that extends or complicates an argument you find compelling but that you would like to add your voice to. Your position should be derived both from the literature you reviewed as well as from your own experiences with observations, tutorial practice, our class discussions and the conversations you’ve had with your mentor and/or other peer consultants.


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