Technology and the role of peer tutors: How writing center tutors perceive the experience of online tutoring

2005 2005

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

In the literature of writing centers, and in particular the literature around online peer tutoring, the voices of the tutors themselves are conspicuously silent. We read the perspectives of writing center administrators, but not those of the people actually providing the service. As administrators of writing centers, we are at a loss as we attempt to prepare our tutors for the online environment because there is little data that addresses the tutors' perceptions of what it is like to conduct a tutorial in a virtual environment. Thus, we are left with theory and practice that is little more than an adaptation of face-to-face tutoring pedagogy.

This study began with the premise that the perceptions of peer tutors of their tutoring experiences, especially those experiences in the online tutoring environment, are a valuable resource. To tap this resource, this study asked tutors to reflect on their perceptions of the online tutoring environment, their perceptions of their own tutoring in the online tutoring environment, and their perceptions of any changes they felt necessary to accommodate the online tutoring environment.

This was a situated exploratory study conducted at the Washington State University Vancouver Writing Center, which focused on 4 tutors at that site. It drew on Jim Bell's (2001) “reflection on practice” model in which peer tutors reflect on their face-to-face tutoring practices. The goal of this study was to address the gaps in the literature of tutor training through an understanding of the perceptions of these tutors as they negotiate tutoring online.

Data for this study was collected over a period of two semesters. The researcher took the role of participant/observer/interviewer for these semesters. Interviews with tutors were audio taped, transcribed, and coded according to a scheme created from the transcripts.

The significance of this study is the inclusion of the often silent voices of the tutors who perform online peer tutoring in the body of literature covering that task. It presents first-hand perceptions of online tutoring that can add to our understanding of the nature of online tutoring and, in turn, assist in the development of training programs for peer tutors.

Indexing (details)

Higher education
0681: Rhetoric
0681: Composition
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Language, literature and linguistics; Online; Peer tutors; Technology; Tutoring; Writing center
Technology and the role of peer tutors: How writing center tutors perceive the experience of online tutoring
Robertson, Kandy S.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496976874, 0496976877
Moran, Charles
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.