An Exploratory Study of a Middle Eastern Writing Center: The Perceptions of Tutors and Tutees
thesisposted on 26.03.2012, 12:10 by Maria Eleftheriou
This thesis presents the findings of a study of writing center tutorial practices in a Middle Eastern university where the language of instruction is English. Data from stimulated recall activities, written observations, and interviews were analyzed to answer the following research questions: 1. How do tutees perceive the effectiveness of writing center tutorials? 2. How do tutors perceive the effectiveness of writing center tutorials? 3. Which type of tutoring approach do tutees find more effective? 4. Which type of tutoring approach do tutors find more effective? The data revealed that tutees noticed an improvement in their assignments, believed that their concerns had been addressed, and that they had acquired transferable skills. Most tutees assessed their tutors positively, valuing tutors who inspired confidence and were able to explain concepts clearly. Although tutees appreciated knowledgeable tutors, they valued egalitarian peer-tutoring relationships. Tutors reported that tutorial sessions improved their tutees' assignments and that tutees had acquired transferable skills. Nevertheless, tutors were critical of their own performance. Some tutors admitted to lacking the knowledge necessary to explain certain writing concepts, including grammatical concepts; some felt they dominated the tutorials; and others felt their approach was too directive. The data revealed that both tutors and tutees preferred the directive approach for lower order concerns and a non-directive approach for higher order concerns. This study shows that diverse tutoring models that accommodate the background and experiences of Middle Eastern students, and their particular strengths and weaknesses, should be considered. It recommends tutorial training that emphasizes flexibility and recognizes the distinctive nature of each tutorial situation and the opportunity it presents to address the needs and expectations of individual students. These findings could signal a direction for the development of writing center pedagogy that focuses on the linguistically and culturally diverse students in the Middle East.