Student named top Writing Center Tutor in region

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Dale Johnson, a writing major from Hartford, has won the East Central Writing Centers Association Tutor of the Year award. In doing so, he beat out writing consultants from other universities in the region.

Johnson, a senior, has worked for three years as a consultant in Grand Valley’s Fred Meijer Center for Writing & Michigan Authors. He received his award certificate and $200 prize at the 2012 ECWCA annual conference hosted by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, in Indianapolis, March 30-31. This award recognizes innovative approaches to tutoring/consulting, the quality of work with writers, and the articulation of a tutoring/consulting philosophy.

“Dale’s an extremely effective consultant because he uses the student’s paper to help them understand something new or useful that will apply to future writing situations,” said Ellen Schendel, Grand Valley Writing Center director. “Dale has applied his own research on the role of self-efficacy in writing to his consultations in the writing center—and he has, through sharing his research at staff meetings, helped our staff to become more skilled at this aspect of consulting, too.”

Johnson and seven other Grand Valley students gave research presentations and facilitated workshops at the annual meeting conference. Over the past two years, he has also given presentations and workshops at the Michigan Writing Centers Association conference, the East Central Writing Centers Association conference, and the National Conference of Peer Tutors in Writing.

Johnson said his research is based on Albert Bandura’s work on self-efficacy—a person’s perception of his or her ability to perform a task in a specific context. He expanded his research to explore the dynamics in play when consultants meet one-on-one with students, and how those practices can be impacted by confidence theory.

“The fact that I can help these students navigate unfamiliar territories and emerge as stronger, confident writers inspires me, and reinforces the valuable function we have as writing consultants,” said Johnson.