Peer tutoring in writing is commonly valued not only by the students who gain the most immediate benefits from it, but also by the faculty and administrators who appreciate the long-term benefits individualized tutoring brings to the academic community.
Because writing tutors have historically been in the greatest demand at the post-secondary level, these services are often coordinated or directed through the writing center. After three decades of growth and organization, Writing Center Studies has developed into a distinct area of academic expertise, with its own scholarship, journals, and conferences. As a result, a national network of disciplinary support is already in place for the LVC Center for Writing & Tutoring Resources to draw from as it grows and expands its services.
The governing philosophy of the LVC Center for Writing & Tutoring Resources is to make students better learners through writing, helping guide them through the process of constructing knowledge.
Writing tutors undergo significant training in approaching a differentiated clientele. Consequently, the relationship of tutors to clients is best described as a "co-learner." Because peer tutors do not have the power of evaluation, clients are strongly inclined to regard them as allies in the learning process. And because the tutor-student power dynamic is fundamentally different from the instructor-student dynamic, the learning fostered through tutoring serves to supplement the learning that occurs in conventional classroom instruction.
At the same time, however, writing center personnel recognize that the instructor's authority in their courses is not open to challenge - everything that happens in the Center for Writing & Tutoring Resources is designed to help students reach the goals set by their professors.
Stephen North, a writing center authority, summarizes the general mission of writing centers by stating that "our job is to produce better writers, not better writing."
The LVC Center for Writing & Tutoring Resources adheres to this mission statement. As a result, our tutoring activities are founded on promoting greater skill in the process of writing and learning, rather than simply proofreading or correcting the end products of the process.
We encourage our students to meet with our tutors and to be actively involved in the writing process from the time the assignment is given. This lessens the anxiety and the angst of last minute submissions. This also permits the writer to reflect upon the piece and to hear what isn't being said as well as what is.
The center's tutors like to be involved in being an audience, asking questions, and learning about different subjects and thoughts or perspectives, whether in the form of an academic paper for a class or for a creative piece that a student is preparing for submission to Greenblotter, LVC's literary magazine, or for La Vie Collegienne, the school's newspaper. We like to write and talk with other writers, with people who seek that audience so that they may "hear what they are saying."
As members of the Center for Writing & Tutoring Resources, we are expected to approach each of our clients and our responsibilities with honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, dedication, intelligence, compassion, focus, and a good sense of humor. We are a resource not only to our clients and to the College, but also to each other in our quest for success. We are many with one voice, one vision, one mission: to serve by helping our peers and becoming better people ourselves because of it. We challenge our clients to learn, to write, to think beyond the what and how and the why.
We believe the tutor should treat each client in a professional manner conducive to creating a collaborative atmosphere for both the tutor and the client. By asking probing questions we encourage discovery and thinking. Our approach is student-centered and client-driven.
We listen critically, carefully, and constructively to our clients. We are respectful of our clients and will respond with both verbal as well as the nonverbal messages in a supportive and positive manner.
We are sensitive to and curious about the needs and norms of our diverse campus population. We choose to learn as well as to tutor, and, in the process, enjoy the fact that we may laugh together at life's absurdities for we recognize the commonality we share in dealing with them. In summary, center tutors agree in principle as well as in practice that they will make every effort at the following:
- Provide the client with clear feedback on the content of what a written piece is saying to the audience [use the "what I hear you saying is..." model]
- Help delineate the mechanical errors in the piece that may hinder understanding and provide a mini-lesson on the most serious of those errors
- Provide the opportunity for the client to correct those errors respecting the writer's ownership
- Listen to the voice of the writer and to the voice of the written work
- Be a thoughtful and responsive audience
We are curious and active learners. As such, tutors engage in active learning in the discipline of writing by completing continual training each semester. We work hard to understand. We sit beside our clients, not in judgment of them or their work.