Talk about Writing: The Tutoring Strategies of Experienced Writing Center Tutors, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Talk about Writing

The Tutoring Strategies of Experienced Writing Center Tutors, 2nd Edition

By Jo Mackiewicz, Isabelle Thompson


226 pages

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pub: 2018-04-24
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Talk about Writing: The Tutoring Strategies of Experienced Writing Center Tutors offers a book-length empirical study of the discourse between experienced tutors and student writers in satisfactory conferences. It analyzes writing center talk, focusing on tutors’ verbal strategies, at the macro- and microlevels. The study details tutors’ use of three categories of tutoring strategies—instruction, cognitive scaffolding, and motivational scaffolding—with each chapter of the analysis ending in practical advice about tutor training.

The second edition adds to the discussion of research provided in the first edition, maintaining the two previous goals: to provide a theory-based coding scheme for analyzing tutoring strategies according to their potential for instructing and scaffolding student writers’ learning, and to demonstrate that analysis on 10 satisfactory conferences conducted by experienced writing center tutors. New to this edition, the authors expand the previous discussion of the coding scheme with additional details about its development. Along with the expanded Chapter 3 about research methods, this edition features new examples from the corpus of conferences and updates the literature review.


TAW second edition provides an inspiring model for writing center research and its application to tutor training. The authors take a careful and systematic approach to revealing the unique powers of one-to-one instruction and interaction. The book provides fresh insights I can share with my tutors, colleagues, and dean. I love this new edition.

-Ben Rafoth, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA

Through detailed conversations between tutors and students, Mackiewicz and Thompson detail replicable and applicable approaches to research design and tutoring. Furthermore, the identified scaffolding strategies name and give technical terminology to familiar everyday practices like suggesting, politeness, and joking, which will help tutors understand the theoretical foundations of their own work.

-Randall W. Monty, PhD., University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA

When TAW appeared, readers—especially those in writing centers—applauded the carefully researched system of coding and analyzing tutor–student talk. Now, the second edition broadens the authors’ contribution to the study of spoken language by expanding the discussion of their coding system and by suggesting other ways to code and study verbal communication.

-Muriel Harris, Purdue University, USA

In this revised edition, Mackiewicz and Thompson have substantially expanded their discussion of methods, detailing transcription process and conventions and evolving an even more reliable coding scheme to share with those who study writing center talk. By returning to their data with fresh eyes, they offer readers a glimpse of their own development as researchers.

-Terese Thonus, University of Baltimore, USA

Table of Contents

1. Talk about Writing: An Introduction to Our Empirical Study 2. Literature Review 3. Methods 4. The Three Conference Stages and Tutoring Strategies: The Overall Results 5. Instruction Strategies 6. Cognitive Scaffolding Strategies 7. Motivational Scaffolding Strategies 8. Case Study: A Writing Center Tutor Becomes a Writing Fellow 9. Talk about Writing: A Conclusion to Our Empirical Study Appendix A: Conducting a Conference with a Student Appendix B: "Notes for Students" Form and Instructions Appendix C: The T5–S5 Conference Coded for Stages, Topic Episodes, and Strategies Appendix D: Extra Examples of Tutoring Strategies Appendix E: Questions Coding Scheme

About the Authors

Jo Mackiewicz is a professor of rhetoric and professional communication at Iowa State University, USA. She codirects the Advanced Communication program and, in 2017, published The Aboutness of Writing Center Talk: A Corpus-Driven and Discourse Analysis.

Isabelle Kramer Thompson is an emerita professor of technical and professional communication and former coordinator of the English Center at Auburn University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies