Theoretical grounding of writing centre practices: a foundation for tutor training
A variety of factors influence the strategies and practices of writing teachers and tutors, such as beliefs about writing and how writing can be learned; following mandates by educational authorities; uncritical adherence to the latest, most fashionable practice; and poor support of writing facilitators in the contexts in which they are employed. These factors increase the need for creating among facilitators of writing an awareness of the different theoretical approaches and traditions of writing and learning to write in applied linguistics and education, as well as the pedagogic practices in writing centres that are associated with them. This paper takes as its point of departure the three main educational theories underpinning writing centre work: The Current-traditional paradigm, Expressivism and Socio-constructionism. However, we argue that theories used to characterise and justify writing centre work need to be adapted to suit specific historical and local contexts. In particular, we propose that writing in South Africa should acknowledge the need to identify theoretical and analytical lenses that are appropriate to their specific institutional contexts. The discussion of the main
theories and pertinent sub-theories is followed by a tabulated summary of each theory, underlying beliefs, associated writing centre models, tutor roles that align with each approach, and the associated tutoring strategies. The article is concluded by outlining a broad
framework to underpin tutor training, which draws on powerful theories that originated in the global North as well as theories that are particularly relevant to the global South and speak to its complexities.
Keywords: tutor roles, tutor training, writing centre models, writing centre theory, writing centre pedagogy, writing centre practices