Cooperative Tutoring: Transforming Collaboration in the Writing Center



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Cooperative tutoring in a writing center setting consists of two tutors who work collaboratively with one student. It is a variation of one method of training new tutors, where the novice tutor observes the expert tutor during a tutoring session and eventually participates with the expert tutor. This study focused on the interactions between the tutors. Through cooperative tutoring, tutors learn new or different tutoring approaches from each other, which in turn serves as ongoing professional development.

I explain the methodology used in the study, and I analyze the data. From the data analysis, I identify three preliminary categories, which are Equal Partners, New Alliance, and Trainer/Trainee.

Equal Partners sessions are characterized by a strong sense of camaraderie between the tutors and a willingness to share both tutoring and academic writing strategies with each other and the student. During an Equal Partners session, tutors acknowledge the other tutor's strategies and incorporate parts of it into their own tutoring style. These sessions are more directive, and the tutors' focus is on teaching specific strategies for academic writing as well as passing on college survival lore.

New Alliance sessions occur when both tutors are more actively engaged with the overall topic of the student's paper. Both of the tutors and the student share experiences and ideas on a personal level, working towards understanding how to craft ideas through academic discourse. In this way an alliance is formed with the writing center tutors and the student.

During the Trainer/Trainee sessions, the tutors involved attempt to apply cooperative tutoring techniques but were unable to make the shift from the roles they once held as a trainer and a trainee.

Finally, I present a summary and interpretation of my findings. I also discuss the limitations of the study and indicate areas for further research.