Powell and Hixon-Bowles Publish Qualitative Follow-Up to Study on Writing Tutors’ Self-Efficacy

Posted on 2/14/2019 10:09:45 AM

Composition and Applied Linguistics’ doctoral candidate Kelsey Hixson-Bowles and recent graduate Roger Powell published their qualitative findings as a follow-up to their recently published quantitative study on writing tutors’ self-efficacy. Their chapter, “Self-Efficacy and the Relationship between Tutoring and Writing,” appears in the first digital collection by WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship.

While their quantitative study found writing tutors’ confidence in writing is correlated with their confidence in tutoring, this qualitative follow-up explored why that might be.

After interviewing nine writing tutors from around the United States who had taken a survey on their self-efficacy in writing and tutoring, Hixson-Bowles and Powell noticed that most tutors described the relationship between writing and tutoring as a virtuous cycle. In other words, tutors described a process in which they 1) learned new concepts about writing during their work as tutors; 2) applied those concepts to their own writing; 3) tweaked the concepts to individualize the strategy; and 4) brought the new knowledge/techniques into their work as tutors. Hixson-Bowles and Powell report on the range of ways their participants’ self-efficacies in tutoring and writing manifest in this virtuous cycle.

Other key findings from their study suggest that rather than always aiming for high self-efficacy, tutors, learners, and educators should consider the quality and source of the individual’s confidence. As they concluded, “our study demonstrates that both high and low self-efficacy in writing and/or tutoring can be a sign of healthy growth and learning.”

To this end, the chapter concludes with concrete ways tutor educators can help tutors be more aware of and develop their self-efficacy in writing and in tutoring. In addition to these strategies for tutor education, Hixson-Bowles and Powell’s findings add to a growing body of research about the benefits of tutoring for tutors.

Department of English