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

Philip James Sloan

Abstract


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.



Keywords


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

References


Bawarshi, Anis and Stephanie Pelkowski. “Postcolonialism and the Idea of a Writing Center.” Writing Center Journal 19.2 (1999): 41-58.

Bokser, Julie A. “Peer Tutoring and Gorgias: Acknowledging Aggression in the Writing Center.” Writing Center Journal 21.2 (2001): 21-34.

Boquet, Elizabeth. “Our Little Secret: A History of Writing Centers, Pre- to Post-Open Admissions.” College Composition and Communication 50.3 (1999): 463-482.

Boquet, Elizabeth and Neal Lerner. “Reconsiderations: After ‘The Idea of a Writing Center’.” College English 71.2 (2008): 170-189.

Brookfield, Stephen D. “What It Means to be a Critically Reflective Teacher.” Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. 1-27.

Brooks, Jeff. “Minimalist Tutoring: Making the Student Do All the Work.” Writing Lab Newsletter 15.6 (1991): 1-4.

Dinitz, Sue and Jean Kiedaisch. “Creating Theory: Moving Tutors to the Center.” Writing Center Journal 23.2, (2003): 63-76.

Harris, Muriel. “The Concept of a Writing Center.” International Writing Centers Association,

Web. 3 November 2011.

North, Stephen A. “The Idea of a Writing Center.” College English 46.5 (1984): 433-446.

North, Stephen A. “Revisiting the idea of a Writing Center.” Writing Center Journal 15.1 (1994): 7-19.

Petit, Angela. “The Writing Center as ‘Purified Space’: Competing Discourses and the Dangers of Definition.” Writing Center Journal 17.2 (1997): 111-123.

Shamoon, Linda K. and Deborah H. Burns. “A Critique of Pure Tutoring.” Writing Center Journal 15.2 (1995): 134-151.

Welch, Nancy. “Collaborating with the Enemy.” Getting Restless: Rethinking Revision in Writing Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1997. 35-53


Full Text: PDF HTML

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.