Date of Award

Spring 8-20-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Dylan Dryer

Second Committee Member

Ryan Dippre

Third Committee Member

Kathryn Swacha


This thesis examines two distinct datasets (handbooks and videos) to explore whether writing tutors embody their training. This research project was grounded in Bruffee’s (1984; 1995) work with collaboration and its link to conversation (both verbal and nonverbal communicative acts) to analyze the peer-to-peer relationships that are observable in writing center tutorials. Research on collaboration and conversation provided a useful framework for qualitatively coding six (6) tutor training handbooks and sixteen (16) tutor training videos. In taking up Thompson’s (2009) and Olinger’s (2014; 2020) calls for further research on writers’ embodied understandings of language, the video component of this research project shows the necessity for supplemental multimodal training texts to accompany the handbooks for new tutors. This study found that an underlying assumption persists across tutor training handbooks that most of tutors’ knowledge will be gained across time, through experience. The analysis of different types of tutor training texts found that the notion of the “ideal” tutor, “ideal” writer, and “ideal” tutorial is baked into tutor training. This finding suggests that tutors’ resilience is a means of maintaining tutorial productivity toward these ideals. While Driscoll and Wells (2020) call for writing centers to focus on “tutoring the whole person,” This thesis argues that tutors can be responsive to writers’ emotions without being responsible for those emotions. While researchers in the fields of writing studies and writing center studies argue that writing is, in fact, an activity that impacts both the physiological and psychological, we must create boundaries for tutors to protect their emotional and mental well-being, as well as ensure they are not overextending themselves beyond their training. Without analyzing multimodal tutor training texts (both handbooks and videos), the gap between the different kinds of training both the handbooks and the videos provide novice tutors would not be apparent to me. This connection would also not be apparent to novice tutors had they been trained solely with one or the other; novice tutors can benefit from engaging with multimodal tutor training texts.