About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 6028 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain

HOW STUDENT-CENTERED ARE PEER TUTORS IN A WRITING CENTER?

C. Brandt

Petroleum Institute (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Many universities run learning support centers of which Writing Centers are one example. While center administrators may employ faculty as tutors, they also frequently train and employ tutors drawn from the student population to assist their peers. These peer tutors benefit from both the training and the work experience. Besides acquiring key teaching skills, such as knowing how and when to elicit, facilitate or guide, tutoring can help peer tutors to establish a wider network within the academic community, appreciate academic discourse community expectations, learn content, develop a better understanding of their own learning processes, and improve knowledge of task, genre, structure, voice and register. Such benefits represent knowledge, skills and competencies that can increase tutors’ self-esteem and confidence as students and as tutors.

In the research context of an engineering university in the Arabian Gulf, peer tutors must meet several criteria in order to train and work in the Writing Centre, including achieving an ‘A’ grade in the second of two required Communication courses. Course syllabi encourage student-centered learning with students are expected to learn to set their own goals and locate resources and activities to help them achieve those goals. This is implemented through a project-based approach in which student teams investigate a problem they have identified. Written research outcomes are the result of individual and collective reading, planning, drafting, redrafting, editing and proofreading; outcomes are also presented orally, necessitating preparation and practice. All of these activities demand high levels of student interaction through which students’ communication skills are practiced and polished. The instructor’s role is primarily to facilitate team processes and scaffold development, both of which are emphasized over lecturing and directing. Before tutoring, peer tutors take part in preparation aimed at providing with them with basic knowledge, skills and competencies for tutoring. Communication faculty deliver this preparation program utilizing student-centered approaches comparable to those used in Communication courses. A key aspect of preparation is a focus upon the rationale for student-centered approaches to skills development, and how these approaches may be adapted to suit the tutoring context. Peer tutors therefore experience student-centered approaches during both communication skills development and tutor preparation, and they also learn about student-centered teaching from a theoretical perspective.

Given such processes, we expected to observe the influence of student-centered approaches in peer tutoring, and we set out to establish the extent to which this may or may not be evident. Research methods included peer tutoring consultation observation, consultation-conversation analysis, semi-structured interviews with peer tutors and structured interviews with Writing Center administrators. Analysis of the linguistic and qualitative data showed that tutors’ experience and ability to explain the rationale for student-centered tutoring contrasts with their practice, in which tutor talk dominates and is mostly used to tell, explain, demonstrate and direct. The relationships therefore between tutors’ experience, preparation, articulation and practice are explored, and recommendations are made that could enhance Writing Center practices.
@InProceedings{BRANDT2014HOW2,
author = {Brandt, C.},
title = {HOW STUDENT-CENTERED ARE PEER TUTORS IN A WRITING CENTER?},
series = {7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-2484-0},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {17-19 November, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {6028}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Brandt
TI - HOW STUDENT-CENTERED ARE PEER TUTORS IN A WRITING CENTER?
SN - 978-84-617-2484-0/2340-1095
PY - 2014
Y1 - 17-19 November, 2014
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2014 Proceedings
SP - 6028
EP - 6028
ER -
C. Brandt (2014) HOW STUDENT-CENTERED ARE PEER TUTORS IN A WRITING CENTER?, ICERI2014 Proceedings, p. 6028.
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