Tutor Alums Doing Good: A Qualitative Study of the Character Strengths of Writing Tutor Alumni from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol. 20 No. 1

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Parsons, Molly
Brown, Emma

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This article draws on data from 12 interviews with peer writing tutor alumni to demonstrate how their writing center training and experiences prepared them to work toward good (i.e., social justice or peace or rhetorical civility) in their post-graduation contexts. Recent scholarship in both writing center studies and writing studies calls for a redoubling of social justice efforts in our field (see Duffy, 2019 and Greenfield, 2020). This article asks how the field will recognize or know success in such efforts. Data from this small study suggests that there is untapped potential in the research tradition focused on tutor alumni experiences (including, most notably, the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project), which is commonly used to demonstrate the benefits of tutoring to tutor alumni. This article reverses this lens, asking, instead, how tutor alumni might benefit the world, and whether we might consider their post-graduation habits and actions, which they credit to their time as tutors, as a measure of the field’s larger, positive influence. Researchers will discuss a heuristic they developed for analyzing tutor alumni reflections that surfaces and distinguishes a range of character strengths (a concept out of positive psychology and the philosophical tradition of virtue ethics), including “civic-mindedness” and “social intelligence,” which, after practicing and developing in the center, alumni reported that they continue to enact in their communities and contexts beyond the center.


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