Relationship-Building as a Means to Navigating Genre in the Writing Center

Anya Schwartz ’20

Julia Rogers Research Prize: Junior/Senior Honorable Mention


The current literature on genre and best practices for writing center tutoring is mixed: some studies support a genre specialist model while others support a generalist model. However, these studies have not explicitly examined how the tutors handle different genres in their sessions, nor how relationships between the tutor and tutee can impact this navigation. This essay explores relationship-building and the use of empathy by tutors to better understand how tutors might negotiate genre during a tutoring session. A short survey was administered to tutors at the Goucher College Writing Center. Responses revealed that the tutors saw relationship-building as a higher priority in their sessions than the genre of the text. Specifically, when confronted with unfamiliar genres, tutors overwhelmingly communicated that they instead focus on the rapport they have with their tutees in order to work with them successfully. More detailed findings focused on the importance of the tutor-tutee relationship within the generalist tutoring model, and their implications are further discussed.


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