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Friday, October 20, 2006

Peer Tutors and the Community College

This entry is not exactly about peer writing tutoring in that I am in attendance at the TYCA-West conference in Park City, Utah. My colleague Tiffany Rousculp (of the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center) and I will be conducting a roundtable discussion tomorrow about writing center and writing center work. I want to emphasize the importance of having peer writing tutors work in a community college. There are difficulties that peer tutoring staffs present to community college writing center directors, but the benefits far outweigh the deficiences. For example, some might argue that the high turnover rate of peer tutors at community college writing centers is a problem. I used to worry about the turn over rate myself, but have since come to a seperate peace with it. I prefer now to see the turn over rate as invigorating in that many new students get involved in the center over time and I have the opportunity to conduct a continual staff education program.

One troubling attitude about peer tutors at community colleges I wish to address as well is that CC students are not able to work as peer writing tutors. I have keep myself from becoming angry when I encounter such beliefs. When I do I usually spend time talking about the benefits of peer tutoring, the theory behind it as well as how having peer tutors is not "education on the cheap" but represent sound pedagogical practice. I also use the opportunity to emphasize that students who have the opportunity to work in the writing center learn quite a lot themselves.

It should be a good session and I'm really interested in hearing from other 2 year college wrting center folks and learning from their practice.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:34 PM

    I have worked in a community college writing center for over 5 years and in a university-writing center as well. I have found that in the community college center that even as a graduate student, I am considered a “peer tutor.” Additionally, most of the consultants that I work with also have a BA. There is little time spent on professional development for consultants and access to journals, conferences, and professional organizations in the field are restricted to the “full-time” staff; this information is not disseminated to the consultants and we are left to discover this information on our own.

    This is in strike contrast to what I encounter at the university level. In this setting, we are encouraged to find this information and submit requests to our director. We are considered professionals as well as peer tutors. I fail to understand the disparity between the two types of centers. It seems as if the full-time staff on the community college level has access to the “keys to the kingdom” and does not support consultant development in the field. I question whether consultants at my community college really have the most recent information on writing center theory and pedagogy. I think this type of information is of primary importance to consultants who conduct writing consultations on a day-to-day basis.

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  2. I would certainly hope your situation is anomalous, anonymous.

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