Considering the Role of a Tutor

     It is my understanding, after reading the first 3 chapters of "The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring" by Paula Gillespie and Neal Lerner as well as observing and reflecting on two peer tutoring sessions, that a tutor's role is to facilitate discovery and ownership with the student being tutored. With Composition being a seemingly very complex process, I will illustrate by another example. When you are tutoring someone in U.S. Economic History because a test is coming up, you don't simply fill out their test review sheet and then leave. I suppose you could actually do that, and then they would look over it and hopefully retain enough to pass the exam. If you teach them the concepts, vocabulary, and even methods of effective study though, they will be better prepared to study for future exams themselves and battle the experience of higher education , not just pass the exam they have next week.
     As I understand it, tutoring in writing is similar to this, only more involved because we are not just teaching students a concept like indentured servitude, we are trying to give them the process of composition and help them discover their own useful process. Additionally, in working at a Writing Center sponsored by a School, ethics come in. In my belief, a school cannot provide a service where its students can have their work completed for them. Therefore, my main focus as a Peer Writing Advisor should be to ensure that the student is learning how to compose themselves, and more importantly, how to search for and use whatever tools they have to find solutions to problems and new experiences that they might come across in their own composition process.


  1. Great analogy, Evan. I think I will steal it! ;) If I do use it in the future I will credit you vociferously.

    I've always liked the analogy of learning to play tennis; you may learn the ins-and-outs of the game by watching the US Open, for example, but until you pick up that racket and get on the court, try doing it, and get feedback from knowledgeable folks, you aren't going to 1) be playing the game and 2) improve. Writing, like tennis in that sense is an activity and does require a person to sit down and do it and get feedback from others about how effective it is and how it may be improved. To further the analogy, therefore, a tennis player isn't going to learn much if every time she has a hard shop coming at her, her coach runs onto the court and takes the shot for her.


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