The Peer Perspective and Undergraduate Writing Tutor Research
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As I considered how to open this essay, I was rereading Ryan and Zimmerelli’s Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors and came across the passage above, which prompted me to think about how my “membership” in this profession has moved through three of the four “levels” they refer to (peer, graduate, and administrative) and has positioned me differently each time in relation to student writers. As a graduate student, I was growing into the role of writing instructor that allowed me an insider’s perspective into “what teachers want” from student writing, a perspective I gladly shared with student writers, hoping that my emerging expertise would add to my existing toolbox of tutoring techniques. Later, as a director, my relationship with students shifted; my focus became the “bigger picture” issues—recruiting thoughtful, responsible consultants, making the writing center more accessible to students who historically would not have sought help in the center, and so on. Gone was the hybrid insider/outsider perspective that I had enjoyed as a graduate consultant. But before I worked in the center during my graduate years, and before I held administrative positions as a doctoral student and later as a faculty member, I was an undergraduate peer tutor, and my relationship with students was that of a fellow student writer, nothing more. Or at least that’s how I described myself to student writers.