The Give and Take of Tutoring on Location

Corbett, Steven J.
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Curriculum- or classroom-based writing tutoring (CBT) programs are wellestablished writing across the curriculum components in some of the most prestigious colleges across the country. The 2005 collection On Location: Theory and Practice in Classroom-Based Writing Tutoring highlights various theoretical and practical issues involved in CBT, and Margot Soven’s 2006 What the Writing Tutor Needs to Know is the first book to combine information on training tutors for work in either writing centers or CBT programs. But just as all writing centers are not alike, CBT programs differ from institution to institution. There is much flexibility in and between models. This flexibility is due to the various needs and desires of the students, tutors, instructors, and program administrators: some programs do not ask tutors to comment on student papers; some programs make visits to tutors optional, while others make them mandatory; and some programs offer hybrids of both approaches. Behind all these methodological and practical choices also lie complex theoretical issues of power/authority, collaborative control/flexibility, and process/product. For example, Jean Marie Lutes argues that “the [writing fellows] program complicates the peer relationship between fellows and students; when fellows comment on drafts, they inevitably write not only for their immediate audience (the student writers), but also for their future audience (the professor)” (239). Issues like these and others brought up in CBT research and practice led me to begin investigating some of the differences between various models.