The genres of tutor training: Searching for reflective practice

Elaine Hays, University of Rhode Island


As those involved in writing center work acknowledge, tutor training, whether informal or formal, is at the center of effective one-on-one instruction. The tutor training manual has become a popular tool for tutor education, but not always deemed useful. Likewise, the activities called "tutor training," vary with institutional context and, of course, budget and time. Still, from the onset of peer tutor training and collaborative learning, the intellectual development of the tutor was deemed as significant, if not more so, than assuring that the tutors knew what to do, or not do, during a tutoring session. ^ Drawing on a lineage of social learning theories and creating a specific framework with social activity theory and rhetorical genre theory, this study investigates the tutor training tools utilized by tutor educators and whether or not reflective practice is included in training. With the assistance of the Writing Center Research Project at the University of Louisville, writing centers and tutoring programs from across the United States were surveyed to collect data on the make-up of writing center and tutor training programs. Follow-up interviews were conducted by respondents who indicated an interest on the survey. ^ Chapter One works to define social activity theory through the work of Russian theorist and researcher Yrjö Engeström and rhetorical genre theory through the work of theorists and researchers David Russell, Amy Devitt, and Anis Bawarshi. John Dewey and Donald Schön provide the framework for a theory of reflective practice. ^ Chapter Two reviews the literature on tutor training applying the theory of first and second generations of an activity system. ^ Chapters Three describes the research design and Chapter Four reads the results of the survey and interview through the theoretical lens of social activity theory and the discursive practices of an activity-based genre theory, or rhetorical genre. ^ Chapter Five suggests that through the study of tutor training as a set of dynamic social activities mediated by the discursive practices of tutor training tools and reflective practice, tutor educators and writing center researchers can expand learning by creating new questions for the continued growth of tutor training. ^

Subject Area

Language, Rhetoric and Composition

Recommended Citation

Elaine Hays, "The genres of tutor training: Searching for reflective practice" (2006). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3248229.