Writing Center Journal


Writing center professionals’ (WCPs) efforts to integrate transfer of learning theory into writing tutor education have exceeded empirical research on the effects of such curricula. Building on research in this area (Cardinal, 2018; Hill, 2016), we designed and implemented a semester-long, transfer-focused training curriculum for experienced undergraduate writing tutors that sought to build on tutors’ prior knowledge of writing center pedagogy. We tracked these tutors’ understanding of, attitudes toward, and uses of transfer and transfer talk in writing center sessions over the course of a semester. Through analysis of training meeting transcripts and a post-training survey, we found that tutors developed a basic understanding of transfer and demonstrated positive attitudes toward transfer and transfer talk; however, they responded negatively to examples of explicit transfer talk in the curriculum and proposed modifications constrained by the social context of tutoring (Carillo, 2020). We characterize these modifications as instances of tutors contextualizing transfer talk in light of their prior knowledge of writing center pedagogy. We encourage WCPs who are designing or researching transfer-focused tutor education to conduct additional empirical research and to prioritize tutors’ perceptions and experiences in order to develop more dynamic conceptions of transfer in writing center studies (Carillo, 2020).