The Writing Center Consultant Project Results

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Writing Center
Tags: , , , ,

Thinking outside the Writing Center

Composition Programs need Pedagogical Improvement

Some writing consultants gave responses that reflected on the transferrable aspects of their work. One participant stated his experience as a writing consultant taught him “the failings of introductory writing courses and high school English departments are innumerable” because some college professors and high school teachers expect students to produce verbosity and length rather than organization and logic, which are two essential skills that are needed to produce quality workplace documents. Similarly, another participant was disappointed to see that some students were not given the necessary writing support prior to attending college, which made it difficult to communicate effective grammatical choices during the tutoring session. These are common problems in writing center lore and are often highlighted in peer tutoring guides. The fact that these writing consultants identified them speaks to the fact that these are ongoing stressful tutoring situations in a millennial age.

Aptitudes Obtained

Other writing consultants pointed out the broad brushstrokes that make up the portrait of a writing center. They identified that tutoring is creativity and communication in coordination. Others recognized that tutoring broadens a person’s perspective on reality, on language, on the writing process, on conflict resolution, and on relationship-building. Overall, every writing consultant who was surveyed was positively impacted by their time spent in the writing center. The following categories, Interview Preparation and Career Preparation, will address how this impact affects writing consultants’ professional lives after they graduate and enter the workplace.

Interview Preparation

Many writing consultants identified not having much experience with interviewing. Writing center experience was viewed as a resume builder that improved confidence and increased one’s personal comfort level when interacting with new people (which is always helpful during interviews). While several writing consultants identified they gained a tool box of skills to apply to their own writing, few were able to take the next step: recognizing how to market their skills so they could secure a job or to attend graduate school. Four writing consultants identified that working in a writing center was equivalent to adapting to diversity, attending to multiple needs/disabilities, consulting one-on-one, solving conflict, and assessing student writing.

Career Preparation

When asked how writing center work prepared them for their careers, the writing consultants provided a wide range of answers. One tutor stated that “being a tutor not only helps the tutees, but helps the tutors as well.” The statement encompasses a discernible pattern that emerged in the skills writing consultants developed or the praxis they performed.


  • Learned to ask open-ended questions
  • Trained myself to think before making assumptions about people’s backgrounds
  • Improved communication and interpersonal skills
  • Became more personable and patient
  • Learned to provide positive praise, build confidence, give constructive criticism
  • Understood my own writing practices better by looking at my writing critically, neutrally, and objectively
  • Strengthened the ability to work one-on-one with students
  • Improved the ability to work on a team with other writing consultants
  • Developed a knowledge base in a variety of other subjects


  • Hands-on teaching preparation
  • Practiced using analytical and critical thinking
  • Hands-on editing practice
  • Focused on a holistic approach to the writing process
  • Hands-on therapeutic communication
  • Relayed information in a way that could be understood by multiple people
  • Recognized that writer has his or her own voice, just as every person has his or her own strengths and weaknesses
  • Held the mindset that writing should be at the forefront of the curriculum
  • Believed in the ideal that everyone is capable of improvement

Likert-Scale Perceptions

The writing consultants’ narratives reflect their perceptions about their tutoring experience and are supported by all five Likert-scale ratings, which received positive ratings. The average, standard deviation, and mode calculations for each Likert-scale rating can be found in the Appendices section.

  • Training and/or experience as a tutor in the interviewing or hiring process for your first job.
    • Ranked somewhat important
  • Your future occupation of the skills, qualities, or values you developed as a tutor.
    • Ranked very important
  • Your future occupation of the skills, qualities, or values you gained from working with others’ writing.
    • Ranked important
  • Your writing center/writing fellow training and experience as you developed as a university student.
    • Ranked very important
  • Your writing center/writing fellow training and experience as you developed as a future professional.
    • Ranked very important
  1. […] Today I found out I received funds from Towson to attend MAWCA 2014. I’m really excited about the conference’s theme of generations. My presentation will be discussing tutors’ perceptions of their transferable job skills. This project is an extension of the PWTARP. It is my hope that this research will continue in the future. For more information about the conference visit My research can be found on this blog at  […]

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