Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

McClure, Lisa


AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OFMelissa Kinsella, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rhetoric and Composition, presented on February 26, 2021, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: GRADUATE TUTORS/INSTRUCTORS: NAVIGATING SHIFTING IDENTITY ROLESMAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Lisa J. McClure Writing centers directors at many universities staff graduate student as tutors; these graduate students receive support for their graduate education while also fulfilling important role in the university. These graduate tutors can hold dual roles as both tutors and instructors - Graduate tutors/instructors (GTIs) as I have called them. GTIs have complex identities that include graduate, student, instructor, and tutor components. GTIs navigate between shifting roles as both classroom instructors and writing center peer collaborative tutors. There is a preexisting writing peer collaborative pedagogy and ethos that GTIs are expected to uphold when becoming writing center tutors. This phenomenological qualitative research study utilizes a survey and follow-up interview to specifically explore how GTIs view and experience their peer tutoring relationships, collaborative tutoring techniques, and their navigation and shift from instructor to tutor. GTIs are studied within the context of SIUC’s writing center. The results of this research offer initial insight into the GTI experience and provide a starting point for exploring the GTI experience on a larger and deeper scale. Writing center pedagogy emphasizes a peer tutoring dynamic; results find that GTIs feel differing degrees of peer frequencies dependent on both the GTIs’ and tutees’ demographic. Further, collaborative techniques are offered within writing center scholarship to enact peer tutoring exchanges; results identify a tendency to collaborate with all tutee demographics with frequency differences reflecting the stage of the writing process and tutee need. The peer and collaborative results present scenarios in which peer and collaborative tutoring doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, while also suggesting that collaborative techniques could be used in spite of a peer relationship; collaboration could also be utilized to enact a peer exchange, even when a peer relationship isn’t present. Moreover, there are ways that shifting from instructor to tutor impacts the tutoring exchange in terms of tutor authority, knowledge, evaluation, and technique. Writing center directors and researchers should acknowledge the complexity of the GTI experience in order to support and understand the GTI exchange and navigation. Keywords: peer tutor, graduate tutor, writing center collaboration, instructor to tutor navigation




This dissertation is only available for download to the SIUC community. Current SIUC affiliates may also access this paper off campus by searching Dissertations & Theses @ Southern Illinois University Carbondale from ProQuest. Others should contact the interlibrary loan department of your local library or contact ProQuest's Dissertation Express service.