I recently conducted a study on Generation 1.5 students in the writing center. “Generation 1.5” refers to immigrant students who have permanent resident/citizenship status and have completed a significant amount of time (typically, at least high school) American schools before entering an American university/college. One of my guiding research questions was whether or not tutors seek to identify a student’s socio-cultural background in typical tutorials and how does this knowledge (or lack of) help shape the tutorials. Interestingly, none of the tutors in my study considered this socio-cultural background important to their tutorials, although the participating student population was quite unique and diverse, and thus, did not broach the topic with their students. Without critizing my colleagues, this does seem to imply that writing center tutorials have little to no elements of Socioliterate pedagogy. Are the students we work with then being under-serviced, or is it not possible for writing centers take a socioliterate perspective (that is, is it not possible or appropriate for tutors to engage in socioliterate practices)? It seems the writing centers often give explicit instruction on certain genres of writing. If we are practicing this, don’t we owe it to the students to step out of our comfort zones and discuss socio-cultural backgrounds as a means of further helping students?
-Eve R. (tutor and master's student)