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Researching the Writing Center

Towards an Evidence-Based Practice

Rebecca Day Babcock and Terese Thonus

Researching the Writing Center is the first book-length treatment of the research base for academic writing tutoring. The book reviews the current state of writing center scholarship, arguing that although they continue to value anecdotal and experiential evidence, practitioner-researchers must also appreciate empirical evidence as mediating theory and practice. Readers of this book will discover an evidence-based orientation to research and be able to evaluate the current scholarship on recommended writing center practice. Chapters examine the research base for current theory and practice involving the contexts of tutoring, tutoring activities, and the tutoring of «different» populations. Readers will investigate the sample research question, «What is a ‘successful’ writing consultation?» The book concludes with an agenda for future questions about writing center practice that can be researched empirically. Researching the Writing Center is intended for writing center professionals, researchers, graduate students in English, composition studies, and education, and peer tutors in training.


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1. Theory, Practice, and What’s In Between: Writing Center Scholarship


c h a p t e r o n e Theory, Practice, and What’s in Between: Writing Center Scholarship If Darwin were to teach us anything about writing centers, he would probably urge us to adopt a materialist model, complete with rich, thick descriptions of our own pedagogical Galapagos, out of which patterns and revelations will emerge. He would tell us to write them down, not lock them away in a desk and wait for our world to catch up. We must relinquish our faith, stop believing in writing centers and start convincing ourselves, and others, by the evidence. (Boquet, in Griffin, Mattingly, & Eodice, 2007, p. 11) Overview of the Book and Chapter 1 Writing Center Research: Towards an Evidence-based Practice is the first book- length treatment of the research base for academic writing tutoring. With a 100- year history in secondary schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S. and, increasingly, across the globe, writing centers have become a staple in the teach- ing of writing. They serve populations of high school, undergraduate and gradu- ate students, basic writers and faculty. They are located in departments of English, are affiliated with university- or school-wide entities or departments of writing, rhetoric and communication, or are supported by private endowments. Tutors in these centers are peers (secondary students, undergraduates, and graduate stu- B&T Final_B&T fin 6/19/12 3:21 PM Page 1 dents) or professionals (Writing Centers Research Project, 2004). With the growing importance of writing centers to...

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