‘I was kind of angry’: Tutors Receiving Feedback in Order to Understand Writer Resistance

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Bleakney, Julia
Mattison, Michael
Ryan, Jennifer

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This article examines the literature on writer resistance to feedback (Elbow, Sommers, Straub) and presents the results of a study designed to examine how tutors-in-training can develop a greater understanding of that resistance. In this study, we asked students in two writing center education courses at two different schools to provide written feedback on each other’s writing and then followed up with two interviews with selected participants. The exchange invited the tutors-in-training to engage in the challenging experience faced by every writing center client: receiving feedback on their writing. Our purpose was to identify whether this exchange improved the tutors’ ability both to give feedback and to understand how to receive feedback effectively (Stone and Heen). Could engaging in an exchange with tutors-in-training from another school help them appreciate feedback as a problematic form of communication? Does the experience of receiving such feedback— and reflecting on it—influence future tutors’ thinking about their approach to tutoring others? We found that the experience enhanced tutors’ awareness of writers’ resistance to feedback and the need to tailor feedback respectfully and responsively.



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