On Location is the first volume to discuss this emerging practice in a methodical way. The essays in this collection integr Classroom-based writing tutoring is a distinct form of writing support, a hybrid instructional method that engages multiple voices and texts within the college classroom. The essays in this collection integrate theory and practice to highlight the alliances and connections on-location tutoring offers while suggesting strategies for resolving its conflicts.
Contributors examine classroom-based tutoring programs located in composition courses as well as in writing intensive courses across the disciplines. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about On Location , please sign up.
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James, and Michael Williamson. Man K. Fitzgerald Kinhom. Missouri -St. Pcggv Mulvihill. Ray Wallace ami Jeanne Simpson. New York: Garland. Herringtom Anne J. X7 Control, and the Idea of a Writimi Center. Deborah Tannen. Nor- wood. I Ift, rrimhur. Since that time, these facilities have been influ- enced by various developments in rhetorical theory and practice. Research showing the limited benefit of isolated grammar instruction heightened inter- est in alternatives to the drills and workbook exercises prevalent in some of the earliest labs.
Research on social constructionism and discourse communities fostered an emphasis on peer response, first in writing classes and then in writing centers see this volume: Hobson. Careful studs of creative writing classes suggests how this tradition can further shape the writing center's peer tutoring method- ology Specifically, the centers should adopt the empowering pedagogy of writing workshops, changing the tutor's primary role from authority in one on-one conferences to facilitator in informal group sessions.
Barren Wendell and A. Hill of Harvard developed advanced classes to rescue students from the large, passive lecture meetings and set-for- mat approach of the new freshman composition. These smaller workshop classes identified each participant as an active expert or professional: the writer would set goals and construct a text to fulfill them, the other class members would read the text carefully and then draw from their own strengths to help him realize those goals. In John Gardiner of Harvard described this new advanced -group structure, a collective individualism, in his first-day handouts: "In general, the purpose of such a course as English 1 2 is analogous to that of an atelier — to turn out men with something like a professional command of the art in which they are to practice" Gardiner, Outline of English Harvard University Archives.
In mentioning the artist's studio or atelier. Gardiner was referring to a French artistic tradition of the nineteenth century, of informal academies, ateliers fibres, where avant-garde artists worked together, drawing on each other's insights to extend their artistic George Pierce Baker's courses on playwrighting, w hich began at RadelilYe in and at Harvard in Since the best plays might be performed on campus or at professional theaters where Baker had connections, the class members attended to the real goals of performance and publication, helping each other to refine their characters, nunc the action along effectively, and hone the dialogue.
Baker encouraged students to visualize each other's plays upon the stage, to apply what they were learning about lighting, scenery, and stage movement to each manu- script. This seriousness of group purpose w as for some participants the most important feature of the class. Kugene O'Neill focused on this "intelligent encouragement" and "believe in our work" attitude in his AVir York limes ohiluan for Baker.
Similar group discussions dominated the workshops taught at Chicago. Ncwcomb College, and other schools before The Creative Writing Workshop and the Writing Center 2 To foster such group participation, teachers and students have made work- shops less formal than the typical college class. The first textbooks demon- strate the careful consideration given to the setting for active w ork.
In his poetry-writing text. Stillness and conventionality must he dispelled. So far as max be. Withers 22 Workshops at Florida Stale usually meet in a seminar room where ten to fifteen students gather around a table. Sometimes the classes convene at teachers' homes, where the entire group can discuss the piece or smaller groups can focus on specific genres — say.
In this carefully created atmosphere has often come honest, blunt criticism of drafts. In j lime and the River. Thomas Wolfe recounts a critique session in Baker's play w righting class, where students were commenting on an over- written melodrama containing lines like these: "So- it has come to this! I had thought you were bigger than that. Irene - w hat "am I to think? Adams and. John L. Adams mummified face of old Seth Flint for that barbed but cleansing vulgarity that always followed such a scene: "Well?
You know. Good old Seth! After that, he might sit down and write a play. John Adams submitted a poem about new horn sea turtles gelling lost on the beach because ol their attraction lo street lights. Typifying the poem were lines like this one: " turtle, hath thy seaward bobbing been renewed'? No one really talks like this.
In a fiction workshop, a student w riting about racial conflicts in her hometown was criticized for "creating slick people. The Creative Writing Workshop and the Writing Center 23 Creative Writing and the Writing Center The writing center has endorsed the concept that appealed to Hill and Wendell, of students working together to improve writing, pooling their resources to enrich each student's text.
The center has also followed the creative writer's recommendation of a work setting: writing centers generally contain informal arrangements of chairs and tables like the seminar rooms and offices used for workshops. But in the actual working out of this active teaching method, the writing center has lagged behind. Even though centers have nourished along with an interest in collaborative learning, of collective individualism, most seem to involve only one-on-one work. In the writing center, the client generally sits down with one tutor who assumes the authority role, a "junior-teacher" offer- ing suggestions and instruction to a clearly less capable "student.
In the creative writing class, however, the assumption is that each student takes writing seriously, that they all plan to polish their work for publication, that they all can be authority figures. Thus the peer's response is valued because the peer attends carefully to the writing, but the writer must be the first authority: she has set her own goals, and she has her own knowledge and feelings to convey. Writing tutors need to view their clients as writers also, who know more about the course material and have their own strengths. Then the tutor can make suggestions, ask questions, work as a real peer, w ithout the burden of teaching and correcting everything.
Freed from being the sole authority, tutors can offer their own personal responses as well as suggestions on paragraphing and grammar, establishing a conversation in which they can at different times be blunt or satirical or excited, like students in creative writing workshops.
They can be thus freed of that insipidly encouraging "junior-teacher'' role, never an appropriate one for peers. The best method for redefining the tutor's role is to return to the real center of collaborative or collective learning: the group. One-on-one tutorial sessions replay the teacher-student office conference: a larger group can more easily embark on equal collaboration.
Writing tutors might meet with two or three other members also offering their responses to the writer. At the University of Missouri- St. At Villanova University, biology majors work in small groups with an undergraduate tutor so that together they can critique the content and structure of their papers Mollis.
This model is 3? Adams successful, both essays claim, because it allows lor more interaction, fur the contribution of each member's skills. Here at Loyola University, law students meet in small groups with a tutor to review course materia! In these groups— formed by the writing center director, a teacher, or a tutor, either as a voluntary, recommended activity or as a course requirement — students usually work together for at least a few days or weeks, often for an entire term.
In this environment, they learn to respect their own skills and judgments as well as the expertise of others. As the creative writing workshop reminds us. They can be peers who establish a group of two or three students and participate in the discussion, bringing to it their knowledge of writing and their interest in learning.
As we discuss the theory of collaboration and arrange our centers physical! References Bruflce. William Herbert. New York: Mucinilkin. Rav Wallace and Jeanne Simpson. II 'Outline of Mnglish IXW W. R Baker. EMC 38 4 The Writing Center and Social Constructionist Theory Christina Murphy Texas Christian University in the research surrounding rhetoric and composition, social constructionist thoorv has begun lo challenge the writing-as-process model as the dominant paradigm def ining writing instruction.
The emergence of social construction- ist theors and its rise lo prominence within the last decade have significant implications Tor writing centers and for the theories of discourse, social interaction, and assessment that define our work. Certainly the most significant influence of social constructionist theory upon writing centers has been its endorsement of collaborative learning and collaborative writing.
With the writing-as-process model, in which writing is largely viewed as a highly personal process and experience to be shaped and guided by a broader understanding of cognitive theorv, the influence of the writing center tutor often has been perceived as an unnecessary, perhaps even harmful, intrusion. Lisa Hde has skillfully discussed the influence of the Romantic idea of the writer as solitary individual, concluding that this per- spective tends "to view both writing and thinking — the creation of knowl- edge- -as inherently individual activities. As Hde states.
Kde argues that "the assumption thai writing is inherent! Central to this task of broadening an understanding of the writing center's role within the paradigm of collaboration is an assessment of the philosophy of social constructionist theory and its practical implications for writing in- struction. Win has it gathered such steam? I believe, collaboration both in theory and practice reflects a broad-based episteniological shift, a shift in the way we view knowledge.
He suggests that the following premises — derived largels from the work of the two best-known advocates of social constructionism in rhetoric and composition. James A. Reither 1 has suggested that, for w riting teachers, a social constructionist point of view has meant an emphasis upon discourse commu- nities- -communities that share "values, objects of inquiry, research method- ologies, evidential contexts, persuasion strategies and conventions, forms and formats, and conversational forms" As a result of their emphasis upon discourse communities.
As with other trends, ihe loUahoiativc lileialiire emphasizes iitilitariati ends that working in croups leads m l-mer ideas, that it teaches the cooperative skills needed I01 ae. As lie explains Social tiai umiiisi ideologies are traditional means of elite social con hot and. Members ol exploited groups are invited to 11 list 01 in an opt a take sense ot peership with their exploiters. Per haps, latlki than le. Introverts, by contrast, tend to prefer to work alone and feel that they are at their most creative ami productive when given lime for inner, private reflection. Stewart argues that extroverts, who work well in collaborative learning situations, topically describe those who do not adapt well to these environments as "unmotivated.
Social constructionism has provided an even more fertile ground for dis- sent within psychology, especially lor cognitive and psychoanalytic theorists, many of whom find social constructionism's understanding of the self as a social construct - similar to all other cultural artifacts- -to be too restrictive. Joseph II. Smith's concern is that much of the early, imagistic.
Will the world of each person's innersubjectiv ity - the source of so much creative thinking and so many creative insights be lessened and devalued as a result? Cirovcr slates that "social constructionism has no theory of desire" l 0. Gregg holds that it is our capacity lo form idiosyncratic associations and our concomitant ability to generate personal know ledge that define our individuality. Thus, rigid separa- tions between personal and social knowledge are artificial, arbitrary, and.
These theorists' comments address a number of the issues surrounding crealivit , insight, and self expression. Lutisford 1WI believes that social constructionism will have a radical, if not revolutionary, effect upon w riting centers, turning them from "Storehouse enters" and "Garret Centers" into "Burkean Parlor Centers" 4 7.
A "Store- house Center. They often use "modules" or other kinds of individualized learning materials. Thev tend to view knowledge as indiv idually derived and held, and thev are not particular! Rather, thev see knowledge as interior, as inside the student, and the writing center job as helping students get in touch w nil this knowledge, as a way to find their unique voices, their indiv idual and unique powers.
This idea has heen articulated by main, including Ken Maeroiie. Peter klbow. Such a center might well have as us motto Hannah 1 Arendfs statement: "For excellence, the presence of others is always required. For one. To say that this process will be difficult and that it. In fact, she does state, " It thus stands open to abuse and can, in fact, lead to poor teaching and poor learning" 3 4. In some ways, they seem, in fact, to echo a principle of the JelTcrsonian ideal of democracy that truth will win out if all groups are allowed their say The Writing Center and Social Constructionist Theory 31 and will reason together toward a consensus.
Whether, in actuality, this prin- ciple of the Jeffersonian ideal will work in educational settings, social con- structionism has vet to prose to many theorists' satisfaction. Some, like Hugh Tomlinson 19X9. Tomlinson argues that one can agree, in principle, with what is false, harmful, ineffective, and the like.
Consensus alone is no guarantee of the merit or validity of one's ideas or beliefs Giroux have argued, philosophies of education generally reflect political philosophies or assump- tions, and. Even Lunsford. She mentions, for example, that collaboration is the norm for most professions and cites an impressive list to support her case. In emphasizing that "collaborative environments and tasks must demand collaboration.
Arc we to assume from this example that educational settings based tin collaboration w ill prepare individuals more adequately for situations they w ill encounter in the workforce, or are we to assume that what works well in the workforce will also work well in educational settings'? Lunsford is not alone in her emphasis on concepts taken from the work- place and applied to theories of education. And Bruffee. All that i new in collaborative learning, it seems, is the systematic application ol collaborative principles to that last bastion ol hierarchy and individual- ism, the American college classroom.
Perhaps Bruffee is pleased thai collaborative learning will remove individual- ism from the American college classroom, but main theorists find this idea more disturbing than encouraging. Collaboration in the workforce. McKinley notes, is "product oriented. Identification of social constructionism w iih methods and ideologies drawn from the workforce creates particular problems for writing center theory.
The difficult with "Garret 'enters. Part of the answer must reside in the fact that social constructionism is a response to the times. The educational community has continued to grow more diverse cultural! In addition, major philosophical challenges to conventional education in the postmodern era have made us more aware of a diversity of perspectives.
Feminism, for example, has questioned male hegemony in education and the valorization of male ways of knowing that are reflected in our leaching and scholarship. Marxist critics have made us sensitive to "an economic interpre- tation of the function of schools, including their role as reproducers of pre- vailing social relations" and have forced us to take seriously Marx's belief that "the ruling ideas of am societ are the ideas of the ruling class" Aronowitz and Ciiroux 6. In Rawer and Knowledge, for example.
Foucault em- phasizes how power works on the nature of learning itself by determining what shall be included in mainstream explanations and what shall be ex- cluded. Obviously, social constructionism's belief that knowledge is con- structed and deconstructed by groups resonates with the challenges to current educational practices expressed by these philosophies. Within rhetoric and composition, social constructionism reflects an addi- tional trend, one that finds its origins in nineteenth-century discussions of hcrmcncutics and the nature of language w ilhin discourse communities.
Many of the issues that define social constructionism reflect the communication- based social theories of VVilhelm Diilhey. Sigmund Freud. Philo- sophical! The ate geared, in other words, toward replacing the issues of being and know ledge w ith view s of communication" Blair 21 Perhaps the most representative of these philosophers is Habermas PH. M, who argues that institutionalized forms ol thought ate based on what he terms "cognitive interests.
The empirical-analytic disciplines of the natural sciences are underpinned bx a technical interest directed toward control over natural phe- nomena. The hisiorical-hcrmeneutic disciplines of the social sciences serve to elucidate the conditions that underlie communication and social interaction.
The empirical-critical sciences are guided by an emancipatory interest and are distinguished by their capacity to reflect criti- cally upon their own ideological foundations. Hmpirieal-eritical sciences rep- resent, to Habermas. In contrast, the opposite of social construc- tionism what Kdc and l. I-Yoni this perspective, the Romantic philosophy is best understood as an empirical-critical philosophy with an interest in "emancipation. Specifically, "emancipation" is concerned with exploring "the inner states" ol communicants Rapoport l l M.
Given social construc- tionism's emphasis upon soc'al consensus, it is clear why "emancipation" would tend to be undervalued and collaboration highly valued as a standard for inquiry, evaluation, and action. The history of rhetoric and composition makes it clear that the oppositions between social constructionism and the Romantic perspective are more than differing viewpoints on how knowledge shall be constructed and evaluated.
In the fullest sense, these oppositions represent the history of our discipline and its current struggles m the contemporary era. Constructionist t heory J5 philosophical perspective that cxompliSios Habermas's concept of an empiri- cal-critical tradition of inquiry Yet. Robert Connors has documented the desire for scientific status within rhetoric and composition.
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Perhaps Louis A. Sass P KK best articulates the dillerenccs in the humanistic versus the social science episte- mologies in stating: IHjoth hununists and herineiieutieists are heirs to the intellectual tradi tion ol Romanticism, itseli hugely a reaction against the hiilighteunienl tradition of ohjectn isin.
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Ross Winlerowd is correct in asserting that "defining literacy is not idle semantic debate or academic hair-splitting but is almost always a conse- quential political act" IW. For many theorists, this is a dubious proposition and one that requires further investigation be lore wholesale acceptance and applica- tion within eurncuh emphasizing critical thinking skills Mishler Roderick 19Sb. Certainly, the greatest challenge facing rhetoric and composition involves the construction of a maximally inclusive and relevant theory to help those of us leaching in writing classrooms and writing centers be the most effective and beneficial instructors we can be.
Social constructionism provides us with a paradigm that explains a number of aspects of writing instruction: however, to argue that it provides all the answers, or even answers sufficient to warrant the devaluing of other theories and philosophies of education— -especially the Romantic or humanistic -seems unwise. If so. The Wining Center ami Social Constructionist Theory 37 no mailer whai theorx we espouse, we musi he sure not lo use it "to foreclose rather than to continue inquiry" Liberal ami Radical Debate over Schooling.
West port. Charles W. Arlington: Rhetoric Societx of America. Bruffve, Kenneth A. Rohert J. London: Allen ami Inwin. New York: Pantheon. Studies in Social and Political Theory. Richard B. Heilkei, Paul. Law son. Hilarx Law son and Lisa Appignanesi. New York: St. Marlin s. New York 1 1 '. Consensus, and Reform in the Rhetoric of Composition leaching.
New York: Universitv Associates. Louise Wethcrhee. New York: Oxford Cniversitv Press. Operational Philosophy: Integrating Know ledge and Action. New York: Harper. Re it her. Invention, and Learn in u to Write. LD New York: Si. Louis A. Stanlev B. Wool folk. New Brunswick: Rutgers Cniversitv Press, Joseph H. New Haven: Yale Cniversitv Press. Donald C. Milan Law son and Lisa Appignanesi. New York: St Martin's. Thomas, ami Margaret Batschelet. Harvev S.
Gillam I "ni vcrsilN of Wisconsin Milwaukee Theory galvanizes and disrupts ihe system, changing its very questions, undermining long held beliefs, introducing ambiguities, revealing com- plexities, setting new tasks, forcitiii risks t hWl. In accomplishing the above goal. By contrast. Brutfce's use of theory in relation to collaborative learning practices is uncritically justificatory; theory, speeili- callv social constructionist theory, acts as a vvatrant or rationale for practices to which he is already committed. In other words.
On Location: Theory and Practice in Classroom-Based Writing Tutoring by Candace Spigelman
As a result. In a sense, he has accomplished both aspects of his reformist agenda that is. CiiHam pedagogics lias contributed in no small part to their widespread popularity. Testifying to BrulTee's contributions. John Trim bur writes: ft ru floe's work has boon important because it touches us to read the classroom and the culture of teaching and learning as a social text.
The Critical Debate Over Collaborate e Learning In recent years, those who oppose collaborative learning suggest that its emphasis on group process and consensus-building enforces conformity, low- ers standards, and denies the importance of the individual mind Johnson IWft. Vet other objections are raised by David Smit l c 8 c. According to Smit. Trimbur faults Bruffec for his failure to "develop a critical version of collaborative learning" which distinguishes between collaborations which reproduce the status quo and collaborations which challenge "the prevailing conditions of know ledge] ERLC,?
For vMihin wiitiiiL 1 icntei diseouisc. I wn stioiig adv orates of udlaboraliv e learning like Andrea Lunsford warn that as the latest pedagogical bandwagon. I tcview several versions of peer iiiioiin-j pkuluc based on collahoialiv c learning theory: then I consider a pal tuiil. Since the general goal of collaborate e learning is to replace the alienating, teacher-dominated methods of traditional instruction, it is not surprising to find that the relation- ship, process, and goals of peer tutoring are often figured in oppositional terms.
I'nlikc the traditional learning context in which the primary transaction occurs between status unequals. According to Bruffee. Rather than focusing on participants' "separate but equal" knowledge. B oth know that the tutor is not so far along as tti have forgotten what learning how to cope with the system is like. When working together they comprise a social structure that enables both to rehearse being insiders" John Trimbur. Though participants may technically share institutional status, the institution itself creates an inequality or asymmetry between tutor and writer which in turn causes a conflict of loyalties for peer tutors who "feel pulled, on the one hand.
In their loyalty to their fellow students and. Tor Trimbur. However determined, the reconstituted relationship between the principal participants in the learning transaction enables, according to collaborative theorists, a reconstituted process of learning, one which is based on social constructionist epislemology rather than on traditional, positivistic epistemol- ogv. In the past, main w riting centers reflected traditional ideas of teaching and learning in which a knowledgeable tutor, or teacher surrogate, "handled out skills and strategies to individual learners" Lunsford 4.
By contrast, the collaborative center or "Burkean Parlor" views learning as a process of con- structing meaning through the social interaction of peers who are equally "knowledge-able" l Lunsford 4. As Bruffec puts it. What I hey do together is converse" 19X4. In other words, the peer tutorial relationship changes the social context for learning, enabling tutor and writer to "experience and practice the kinds of conversation academics most value" 7. In short, the peer tutorial process involves both the short- term goal of offering practice in the kind of talk that the writer can then translate into academic writing and the long- term goal of offering practice in the kind of talk that will enable both students to join the larger discourse communilv of college educated men and women i 44 Afire M.
Muriel Harris Yet anolhet. According to Kail and Tritnbur. This crisis of authority in which students "unlearn" their habituated reliance on teacher authority, argue Kail and Tritnbur. Borrowing their terms from Richard Sennelt. Kail and Trimbur describe this crisis as occurring in three stages: detachment, reflec- tion, and reenlrance If the writing center environment is sufficiently separate from the student's required curriculum, it "detaches" students from the traditional, familiar situation of learning.
Further, the shared student status sets the stage lot tutor and writer to reflect on their common subordination within the educational system and their struggles to compete and survive in this sy stem. Finally, this reflection can lead to a questioning and demy stifying of traditional authority and ultimately to a reengagement with authority, albeit on reformulated terms.
In the Bru flee model, the long-range social goal seems to supersede the immediate educational goal - thai is. Muriel Harris's discussions, howe'scr. Notably, neither Bruf fee's nor Kail and Trimbur's model focuses primarily on explicit writing goals. To illustrate both the explanatory power as well as the limitations of these theoretical conceptualizations. I offer an example. While this peer tutorial session is not typical in any of its particulars- -in my experience, there is no such thing as a "typical" session— it is typical in its complexity and resistance to easy assessment.
Both are from white middle-class back- grounds: both arc "good" students. Their com ersation during the first session seems almost like a textbook illustration of BrulTec and Hawkins's claims about the "intimacy" and parity possible in peer tutorial relationships. As Kari describes it in her journal: "It was a break from the usual teacher-student relationship. It wasn't all just her talking or just me talking. To this second session. Kari has brought a draft of a paper based on Anna JuiiHllcn's essay. Ctiiluni death penalty. Kari responds. I've never had any experience thinking about it.
Kari implies, are distinct from thoughts and insufficient for academic discourse, no substitute for know ledge and experience. A student herself. I mean 1 haven't seen a lot of shows or anything on capital punishment. It's not really fair. Like Kari. Whatever the cause. Not surprisingly. Kari's relationship with her teacher is simultaneously friendly and adver- sarial. On the one hand. Kari wishes to please her teacher and to compl with the demands of the task he has set. On the other hand, she resents this assigned topic which involves a subject she knows nothing about and discourse conventions which ate a niNstei to her.
I Or should vou go all hers jiul then vnurs? In effect she appropriates the teacher's advice and interprets it as approval for the strategy she already has in mind. Significantly Kari chooses not to discuss content, or more specifically her lack of knowledge about the subject, with her teacher. Perhaps she feels that such an admission would be embarrassing, or fears that it would affect his opinion of her abilities. I just do the assignment.
Kari feels free to voice her resentment and sense of inadequacy in meeting the assignment's demands. This intersec- tion of collaborations between Kari and her teacher and Kari and her tutor shape the agenda for their session. Here, however. Both agree that the content of Kari's tlrall is weak. Kari realizes that the task requires that she distinguish her position from that of Quindlen even though she would prefer simply to defer to the authority of Quindlen's text. Marly in this segment of their conversation. Kari makes a telling comment: "It was just the exact way 1 fell.
So she just In a way she just repealed what 1 was thinking. Quindlen articulates for her what was already there in inchoate form. And since Qu ind- ie n says so well what Kari would have said had she thought to say it. Gillam tnt! Perhaps, she reasons in ihis same passage, she can solve her problem by substituting another voice lor her own: "So I can just find an article and read it and write about that as ms experience.
She begins hs an- nouncing herself as "an Anna Quindlen follower. As a reporter. Lson more interesting is the self or persona that Kari constructs in her text, "lli! It is one thing simply to hear out and emotionally support a follow student; il is another to help that writer generate ideas and establish a sense of authority in relation to a subject about which she has little knowledge or interest. Liver the resourceful one. Kari announces a plan foi feigning interest and establishing writerly authority: "So what I was thinking about doing was rereading each paragraph of Quindlcn's essas then thinking about each paragraph and how I feel about it.
Kari also plans to begin with an explanation of her interest in the topic: "I could sas that '! Read ans newspaper articles ' Seen TV newscasts? Don't s ou ever think about Ms this guy gonna G2 t'lhilh'idlive l. After reading hooks on these killers. Like Anna. Adam Walsh, who was ahdueted fioni his mother and then brutally murdered It was through such horrifying stories as the Hies of Manson. Although Kari and Suzanne's conversation may seem a far cry from Bruf- fce's notion of the peer tutorial as the "conversation of mankind" w rit small.
In this same revision, which was her final draft of this paper. For Quindlen. For Kari. I feel that ii is the easy way out for the criminal. Suzanne's probc-and-prompl conversational strategy eventually lead Kari to a "standing position" which is distinct from Quind- len's. Does theory help its to understand and interpret the case? Docs it "galvanize" 01 "disrupt" our notions of practice? Alternatively, what does this instance of practice oflct theory?
Does this case "disrupt" our notions of theory? Docs it con I inn or disconfirm various collaborative learning conceptualizations of peer lutoimg practice? The writing style in Kan's revision is still; the diction awkward and unidiomalic; and the "reali- 50 Alice M. If the latter is the case, and I suspect it is. To some extent. After all. Kari eventually does "find her own answer. Play ing the role of someone who has knowledge of and opinions about public policy issues may have been legitimate practice for constructing authority and knowledge in future academic writing tasks.
However we interpret the meaning of this case, it is clear that the critical operations of theory can challenge and enlarge our understanding of practice. Along with others in this volume. Mice M. See Grogorv Clark i lor a fuller explanation ot how the conversational model has boon deploved in composition studies as a metaphor lor w riling and w litinti instruction. This case is abstracted from a larger sliulv in which niv colleagues.
Susan Callawav and Kathenne Hcnnesscv Wikolf, and I gathered data on four semester-long peer tutorial relationships. Conducted in 10N7. References Kartholomae. Clan A. IL: National Council of Teachers of [-. VS Gregory Carbondale: Southern Illinois [ niversitv Press. Peer Response' Groups. V I law kins. Muriel Harris. IL: Scott Toresinan. Thomas S. Control, and the Idea ol a Writing Center. Consensus, and Kelorm in the Rhetonc ol" Composition leaching. I omse Wetherbce.
Joseph K Trimmer and James P. New York, Random House. Trim bur. Ben McClelland and Timothy R. In contrast to that procedure, the process ot much research in composition shows an alternative picture of how knowledge can be developed. Theorists question the appropriateness of applying linear analytical methods to the complex interactions of factors in research that concerns human learning, composing, and decoding Latter and Asher 1 c S S. Perhaps the most intracta- ble difficult w ith positiv isiic research is that, in educational contexts, we find it near!
Writing center personnel have long known that diflcring traffic patterns, varied clientele, and assorted in- structional practices make even less rigid research methodologies, like sur- veys and protocols, difficult to implement in writing centers. No survey catches all the l pes who use the center or asks the kinds ol questions that can explain the nature of the interactions between tutors ami their students, A reading or writing protocol must be taken in an artificial context outside the usual tutoring patterns and therefore ma not reflect true behavior.
Sliulent writers iire hot laboratory Mis. As workers in a writing icntci. PosiliMstK lesearcli max m time begin where our obserxalions leave off. In dome reseaich. I sing the wtittngs ol 1. Kvans PiiKhaid. Janice Withcrsjuum Scnlcih and Maurice. Neither necessarily intended that the cultures would blend and comment on one another in the written work, hut through the process of writing about the others, the authors lost the boundaries between themselves and those they studied.
James Clifford 19KK. They rest i heir work on modern theorists who question the foundations of culture, especial! Foucaulfs archeology of cultural assumptions. Thes ask questions about what we know in our own cultures and about how we can be changed by exposures to other cultures, Anthropological field research has changed its basic assumptions since this new theoretical underpinning has emerged. Ethnographers become true par- ticipant observers, aware that their participation in the process of doing their research will make them a part of the culture, They will also share the authorship w itli those being observed: authority for any text or study no longer lies in the hands that play over the key s of the computer but also in the minds and actions of those who are observed, Clifford and Marcus summarize the perspective: "'Once 'informants' begin to be considered as co-authors, and the ethnographer as scribe and archivist as well as interpreting observer, we can ask new.
Karen Lcf : cvrc 1 C S7 has extrapolated these ideas of group text to describe what she calls collective writing, that done by a group working together. When we abandon or seriously modify the researcher's stance as unmoved mover, credibility becomes a central problem in research.
How can we trust the perceptions of someone who has gone native? People in writing centers are all too familial with the attitudes of those who patrol the boundaries we 7 , Wnumi Others. An authentic ethnographic study may have to risk some of those consequences. A key to surviving such peril is meticulous and comprehensive record keeping. The record-keeping system of a writing center constitutes the control of observation for which How or called in her critique of positivislic research.
In keeping records, writing centers have written a critical hislorx of the contact between students and the professoriate. We have been taking notes on our center for years, not so much to understand it as to answer the feared attacks of budget cutters who somedax might strike.
These data provide one version of fieldnoles: notes that cox or everything from tutor activities to the content of grammar hotline calls, student papers both in tutoring files and in writing assessment folders, recorded interviews with triors, evaluation forms filled out In tutors and the students with whom they worked, and our own massixe year-end reports based on a data-keeping system comparable onlx to the federal government's spx system back in the cold war daxs.
These records are the kex to beginning an ethnographic study, but before looking at the sludx itself, an ethnographer can profit bx an eflorl to understand the assumptions underlxing the culture being investigated. Where was the field born: what were the assumptions at the time of that beginning'.
What happens when we look at ourselves through the eyes ol the anthropologist ami the archaeologist? What political and social situations informed the design of our center at its beginning? What do our collections of data tell us about the centei. Scharton our present center at Illinois Stale we must return to the center. We must ask what political and social situations informed the design of our center at its beginning. To answer that question, we must he willing to ask ourselves what was not said explicitly at the time.
The political situation was volatile in the hnglish department and in the College of Arts and Sciences. The first negative tenure decisions ever to he made in the department had been handed down the year before, and the college had supported the decisions. The English department chair was a woman, and so was the dean of the college.
Both were feared and hated by those w ho had suffered or whose friends had suffered from the negative tenure decisions. The dean wanted a writing center because she had read about centers in current administrate newsletters. She suggested lo the chair that the department establish such a center. Meantime, Neuleib had suggested lo the chair that a materials and tutoring center would be a good addition lo the department. The department chair suggested that Neuleib propose a writing center in her presentation for a tenure- line contract, the first such presentation attached to a national search in the department's history.
Not only were the department politics sensitive, the job situation national! Given the economy unlay new center directors may find themselves in equally tentative and wilncrablc situations. With these unspoken political necessities always in mind, the center began with much sell-protective behavior, hvery record was kept meticulously : every hour of tutoring, every type of assistance. At the end of the first year, an elaborate report went out to every corner of the campus show ing how busy the center had been and how effective the tutoring had been in the ey es of users.
For years ihe reporting mechanism remained the same, producing a campus- wide perception of industry and effectiveness for the center. None of the initial conditions existed that had informed the beginning of the Wriiing enter. The directors Neuleib and Scharton had long since been tenured and were not m the vulnerable position of those early days of ihe center. The original political context of the Writing Center's birth clearly has had more influence on practice in the much larger and politically more stable Center for Learning Assistance than any current example or model.
Another important factor in was the nun emeni away from drills and programmed instruction in writing center design. Neuleib visited several writing centers in the Midwest, noting the difference between personal, inter- active centers like those at Purdue and Iowa City and some of the programmed instruction-based centers in community colleges in the stale of Illinois. This policy, like that of keeping careful records, carried over into Writing Center rules and regulations to create in the staff a distaste for the impersonal and dogged atmosphere of those centers where the human element did not come first.
Coffee is available to even person who comes into the Center, despite our current president's distaste for in the workplace. We initially screen tutors for academic and intellectual ability; then we train them in tutorial and interpersonal skills. We use personality type as a frame within which to teach tutors what personal tactics and nonverbal signals to use to make students comfortable in the enter Jensen and DiTiberio ; Schar- ton and Neuleib I WO. Much of this siress on atmosphere was grounded in the arguments that Mina Shaughnessy.
Muriel Harris, and many others made against impersonal, generalized algorithmic methods of dealing with writing instruction. All those powerful voices of the seventies have so influenced Illinois State University's Center that it would be hard to rethink the current activities with a nineties perspective. Perhaps an ethnographer who was not a part of the writing center culture would be the best evalualor of the ways in which these assumptions have worked themselves out in the day-to-day operation of the Center.
No one. Thus, the Umu v Wither spoon Xculcih and Maurice A. Srliurton theory about noi teaching writing through grammar workbook exorcises, no doubt the best idea in its time and possibly still the best idea, lias influenced other practices that might belter be served by programmed instruction.
One sort of technology. Since I9S6. The assumptions upon which we introduced the computers, of course, lie back to exactly the same theory that prohibited programmed gram- mar instruction. Thus, the personal computer became the tutoring too! What we have done in our enter seems so theoretically sound and so without question the best way to tutor writing that we find it difficult to imagine that other assumptions could have led to another sort of center.
The centers that hail silent rooms with programmed instruc- tional booklets and tape recorders were informed by a different set of assump- tions. Most of us. Ethnographers do not test hypotheses, but rather generate hypotheses from triangulated data and then measure those hypotheses against more data Spradley.
We have mentioned the masses of data we have collected. Writing Ourselves 61 provide a rich research base for generating hypotheses about tutoring in writing centers, Suidsing a center's operation will illustrate this triangulalion. We will use our records to assume the perspectives of the tutor, the administrator, and the teacher. Tutor's Perspeethe An example of this rich cross-sectional study can begin in a writing-across- the-curriculum WAO tutor's file. The other three or more assigned hours per week are spent tutoring either students from the assigned WAC class or Ironi other writing classes.
Tutors write records of all tutoring , sessions in their own personal file-. One WAC tutor. He lakes meticulous notes when he tutors, and he pass careful attention to advice both in the tutor handbook and in the wcekb stuff meetings. Mark pass close attention to the needs of his students, worrsing when they miss appointments and checking on their progress in the class for which he is a tutor. All in all. Mark represents the kind of tutor the comer staff try to hire and train.
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We also have staff notes, taken on Mark's tutoring methods and style. We assume that male and female tutors will react in certain culturally determined ways, males tending to he slightly m0 re directive and dominant in tutoring sessions. We also assume, however, that tutors of various personality types will react to others in the patterns predisposed by those patterns.
Mark is a type given to introspection, imagination, helping others, and keeping options open Introverted. Intuitive, heeling. Perceiving in Myers-Briggs's terms, so we assume that he w ill not follow cultural stereotypes for men. Our observa- tions seem to confirm those assumptions. Jenna is as nearly opposite Mark as possible, yet she too fits the pattern for a desirable tutor. She is lively, enthusiastic, eager to help everyone around her. Ol course, she does share Mark's interest in others and shows that concern in her work with those whom she tutors. Her notes reveal a breathlessness.
Administrator's Perspecthe Our assumptions color our obsen ations. But from watching Mark and Jenna and others like them, we are able to form some hypotheses about the nature of the tutoring expected, and performed, in our center, First, the candidate's personal concern and interest in the well being of the students who will come for help are important considerations in our tutor choice and training. Our tutor handbook reinforces that hypothesis since it stresses interpersonal skills in nearly every one of its guidelines.
Second, while tutors must be bright, they must also know how to communicate with those whom they tutor. Jenna and Mark, both Undergradu ate Teaching Assistant tutors, are. Our tutor screening, which includes extensive group interviews, stresses picking those tutors who have skill in working w ith others in the group and in cooperating rather than competing. Those who are acquainted with the personality-type assumptions that un- derlie our comments above may be amused to know that we seldom choose our own personality types as tutors since the particular caring qualities we stress in our tutors are not the first-line qualities of our own competitive natures.
That observation leads to our major hypothesis: Writing Centers must resist the dominant academic ethos of competition, replacing individual suc- cess with cooperation achievement for all. This hypothesis emerges after long consideration. From years of working with staff, tutors, and students, we have come to think of ourselves as more patient teachers, improved problem solvers, somewhat more humane admin- istrators, and far better negotiators for academic improvement. We have learned to use our intellectual and social skills to improve the learning envi- ronment for others, and in learning that lesson, haw become belter scholars and teachers ourselves.
The tutorial methods in our own center find applications in the classes of our former tutors as well as in the classes of faculty who send students to the center. Collaboration and peer response come easily to our former tutors' classrooms, as does the easy relinquishing of authority to the writers and readers of student texts.
A familiar example of litis change is Ken Bruffcc's l l S4 work with collaboration, work that is firmly based in observational research in writing centers, f rom the tutorial experience which he observed, he was able to extrapolate a theory thai has inlormed the profession general! Thai research served to formulaic concepts that had broader application than to writing centers alone. And that understanding inevitably leads to change of various kinds, change that extends beyond the walls of the center and the departments who use the center regularly We find our administrators bringing dignitaries such as visiting college board members or administrators from other schools thiough the center, showing them that the university does care about students.
When administrators stress the need to understand and aid students, thev themselves become more concerned for student well-being. The teacher perspective will help us in that effort. We are able to assume that perspective legitimately because, not in spite of. Like many center administrators, we assume both roles, and thus we partake in the subjective experience of both the center and the department culture.
We are accustomed to the notion of the professor as unmoved mover. Some professors refer students to the center from a distance by way of a form or a phone call. A few others escort students, introduce them personally, and continue to monitor their progress. But as teacher-administrators we find that our intuitions and our records suggest that professors do change when exposed to writing centers.
We can generalize that observation to include many of the teachers who refer students to the center or who conduct composition research. The phrase "pcrsonalilx conflict. Our early records show, for example, an instructor who used the Flower and Hayes problem- solving model mechanically, insisting that students follow a set pattern for all writing in order to facilitate a research study.
The tutors were able to spot the difficult and communicate to the professor the need to help them to help the students understand the research model informing the instruction. The second problem is that graduate students can bring a senior professor's theories to the classroom with a zeal that blinds them to the limitations of their own beliefs. In writing centeis. The center can provide a ground of communication between students and teachers that leads to changed perspectives on both their parts. The View from Inside the Triangle Thus, writing centers inevitably change those who interact in and with them.
As observers of our own center, we have noted changes in ourselves as well. Observing that center in action as h is now w ith tutors like Mark and Jenna has helped us to see how the center has changed us as well. Like the administrators and dignitaries we show through the center, we rind that we have almost inadvertently committed ourselves to the well-being of students. It's a frightening observation that college professors do not make often enough; we really are changed by espousing goals that demand the improvement of the young.
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