"Developing Writers": The Multiple Identities of an Embedded Tutor In the Developmental Writing Classroom
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In her essay “When Basic Writers Come to College,” Patricia Bizzell explains that writers placed in developmental courses “are asked to join an academic community ... united almost entirely by its language” (296). Specifically, students are asked to learn “new dialect and discourse conventions ... [and] the outcome of such learning is the acquisition of a whole new world view” (297), which requires not only a different way of writing and communicating but a different way of thinking. This is no small task. Therefore, some of the problems that developmental writers face “are best understood as stemming from the initial distance between their world views and the academic world view” (297). James Paul Gee further defines these communities as “Discourses” where students can create an “‘identity kit,’ which comes complete with the appropriate costume and instructions on how to act, talk, and often write, so as to take on a particular role that others will recognize” (7). Many of us would agree that most writing center tutors have successfully negotiated these different communities and Discourses, adapted alternative viewpoints, and even created various identities through their work in our centers, which results in tremendous change and growth. As Hughes, Gillespie, and Kail have demonstrated through the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project, the work of tutoring has a profound impact, changing the way tutors perceive writing, learn critical thinking, value the power of collaborative learning, and develop a new-found sense of personal confidence.