Our philosophy is inspired by a translingual approach to reading and writing practices. This perspective recognizes that all people belong to multiple discourse communities and, as a result, make different language decisions depending on their desired purpose. As such, we emphasize that academic writing is just one form of English discourse. We encourage students to draw on their various linguistic and cultural resources as they learn new writing strategies for the academic English classroom. Tutors, then, help students learn to navigate and respond to the expectations of this specific discourse community.
To do this, we offer a unique format that pairs students with the same tutor throughout the semester. This builds meaningful relationships between tutors and students and sustained conversations about student writing. As more experienced writers of academic English, tutors act as mentor-coaches, rather than editors. During each tutoring session, students engage in a series of tasks related to their latest course assignment. While tutors shape these tasks and advise students as they work, it is the students who read, write, and revise. Importantly, tutors ask questions that will help expand students’ language repertoires, rather than pointing out mistakes or “fixing” student papers.
This method requires a highly trained staff, and Writing Tutors undergo a rigorous selection and education process overseen by the Coordinators of the Writing Centers. Tutors are drawn from a pool of applicants who may be advanced undergraduates, graduate students, or teachers from diverse departments, including English, Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Once selected, tutors are educated in a variety of tutoring techniques that engage the whole student and their writing needs. Workshops, tutorials, and special events are held throughout the semester to augment this education with new research and innovations in tutoring pedagogy.