Are We Really Student-Centered? Reconsidering the Nature of Student ‘Need’

Philip James Sloan


This essay draws on reflections from writing center tutors to critically examine our needs-based philosophy, suggesting that the pedagogical approach typically employed in writing centers may have inadvertent colonialist implications. Participants discuss their practice in a way that hints at 1) the reductive potential of writing center discourses, and 2) an epistemological disconnect between writing centers and the students they purport to serve. While all tutors claim to frame their sessions around student 'need,' it is the tutors, and not the students, who determine the nature of that need. It is thus recommended that the writing center community reflect on the consequences of their own assertions, reexamining our increasingly reified narratives and working to bridge perceptual rifts.


writing center theory; tutor training; Tutors; Student-Centered; post-colonialism; discourse; pedagogy; defensive; student need; editing; proofreading; process theory; writing; writers; order of concerns; peer tutoring; epistemology


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