Writing Center Journal


Writing center scholars have long debated whether writers are best served by “generalist” tutors trained in writing center pedagogy or “specialist” tutors with insider knowledge about a course’s content or discipline-specific discourse conventions. A potential compromise that has emerged is training tutors in the purposes and features of specific genres. The writing center literature showcases many different approaches to genre training. However, little empirical research, if any, has explored how tutors’ genre knowledge affects session outcomes. The present study used a mixed-methods approach to compare session outcomes for students who worked with generalist and genre-trained tutors. We analyzed pre-consultation and revised literature review drafts to determine whether students who worked with tutors trained in the genre of literature reviews improved their drafts more or revised their drafts differently than students who worked with generalist tutors. Additionally, we performed a qualitative analysis of student reflections about their writing processes to explore how tutor training impacts students’ impressions of their consultations. Findings indicated that students who worked with genre-trained tutors revised their drafts more substantively than did students who worked with generalist tutors. Moreover, students who worked with genre-trained tutors left with notably better and richer impressions of their consultations.