Hybrid matters: The promise of tutoring on location

Laurie Grobman, Candace Spigelman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


We have argued that on-location tutoring should be understood as a hybrid instructional genre that incorporates features, practices, and conceptual frameworks from at least four significant "parent" writing initiatives. We have also emphasized that the products and processes of classroom-based writing tutoring result in a blurred form, exhibiting characteristics of each of its parents but operating in its own distinctive space, neither synthesizing nor rejecting related theories. Indeed, classroombased writing tutoring "violate[s] decorum and trouble[s] hierarchies," in some of the same ways that Wendy Bishop and Hans Ostrom advocate for contemporary genre theory (1997b, xii): it operates amid contradictions within the productive chaos of writing classrooms; it confuses the nature of classroom authority; it encourages noise and active collaboration at the very scene of writing. Perhaps we stretch the metaphor too far, but it does seem that Charles Bazerman's notion of genre as place powerfully conceptualizes distinctive practices in writing classrooms, writing instruction, and writing support efforts as well as it represents the distinctive discourses invoked within those practices. Thus, we find Bazerman's closing paragraph to "The Life of Genre, the Life in the Classroom" especially relevant to our concerns: [H]aving learned to inhabit one place well and live fully with the activities and resources available in that habitation, no one is likely to mistake it for a different place. Nor having moved to a different place do people stint on learning how to make the most of their new home. It is only those who have never participated more than marginally who do not notice where they are, because they do not perceive why all that detailed attention is worth their effort. Once students feel part of the life in a genre, any genre that grabs their attention, the detailed and hard work of writing becomes compellingly real, for the work has a real payoff in engagement within activities the students find important. (1997, 26) In large part, students come to understand what writing is through their experiences in writing classrooms. Unless their first-year composition classroom is remarkably different from prior sites of writing instruction, they will simply assume that they "know," if not how to write, at least how writing is done. Collaborative writing assignments, writing group activities, support for writing center tutoring-such instructional efforts move students from the margins to frame them as agents, as "real" writers. By combining and extending these initiatives, classroom-based writing tutoring immerses students even more directly in the "compellingly real" and "detailed hard work" of composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOn Location
Subtitle of host publicationTheory and Practice in Classroom-Based Writing Tutoring
PublisherUtah State University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)0874215994, 9780874215991
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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