Explicitness and Rationale: Purposeful Communication in Asynchronous Online Writing Tutor Sessions from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.2

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Rollins, Anna

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In the February 2018 interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education “What’s Wrong with Writing Centers,” a tutoring strategy utilized frequently in the writing center setting was problematized: nondirective tutoring (Jacobs). Much writing center tutoring pedagogy advocates for a tutoring session to function as a conversation, with the tutor posing open-ended questions about a student’s writing and the student writer revising her own writing based upon answers formulated in response to the tutor’s particular, probing questions (Ryan and Zimmerelli). Nondirection as a tutoring strategy, though, has received pushback, and some argue that direct tutoring that provides students with explicit models to emulate is a more effective way to conduct a tutoring session (Barnett and Blumner). In asynchronous online sessions, where tutors provide feedback to student writing in the form of marginalia and endnotes, the conversations that often occur in face-to-face and synchronous online sessions are not achieved in the usual way due to constraints of digital modality, medium, and student audience. Still, tutors aim to enact pedagogy that incorporates feedback that resists copyediting while incorporating a conversational style of response.

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