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Rationales for Tutoring Grammar

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Before discussing strategies for tutoring grammar, it is first necessary to look at some reasons writing centers (and their tutors) may choose to give attention to grammar during tutorials. Consistency in a writing center's purpose along with student and teacher concerns indicate that tutoring grammar can be a necessary and beneficial part of tutorials. The following rationales aim to enable us to understand why grammar can be just as much a part of writing center pedagogies and methodologies as any other part of the writing process.


Writing centers and tutoring operations should endeavor to be consistent in their purpose. Often writing centers have resources about grammar, syntax, and diction—all elements of the writing process. Furthermore, grammar is a part of the writing process, and the universal purpose of writing centers is to help tutees become better writers in every facet of their writing. Writing center tutors should, therefore, address these elements within tutoring sessions, for the entire writing process is within the purview of the writing centers’ purpose. While certain aspects of the writing process may be deemed more important for tutorials, no one aspect should be altogether neglected.

Student Concerns

Whether writing centers make a distinction between high order concerns or lower order concerns, the concerns of the student should at least partly determine the focus and direction of the tutoring session. Thus, as a resource for students, writing centers and their tutors ought to pay attention to their requests. There are times when other issues may trump those of grammar, syntax, and diction; however, there are also times when those issues may need to be addressed. In the end, a negotiation between tutor and tutee must take place at the beginning of the session so as to determine what are the most important aspects of the writing process on which to focus, but it is still a negotiation that should factor in the concerns of the student.

Teacher Concerns

Students are not the only ones who may view grammar as significant to the writing process; teachers may also emphasize grammar in their projects and assignments. Writing centers should encourage a dialogue between students and their teachers. Many tutoring sessions occur as a result of a teacher’s referral. Often these referral students come with concerns raised by their teacher, which can include grammatical problems. To refuse to help a student whose teacher has explicitly pointed grammatical concerns as an area of their writing that needs improvement, might hinder their progress as writer and might also obstruct the dialogue between the student and teacher that takes place in (and out) of the classroom. The focus, or redirected focus, of a tutoring session ought not to be an impediment between teachers and their students. Tutors should aim to aid students as they seek to improve those areas of writing specifically highlighted or generally emphasized by their teachers.