Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ben Rafoth, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Nancy Hayward, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Carol Peterson Haviland, Ph.D.


This study investigate how a learning culture was created and sustained among the peer writing tutors of a small liberal arts college for women. Through observation of the reflective, relational, and intellectual components of tutors' interactions with each other and with students, this study theorizes how a community of practice cohered among the tutors and its influence on their interactions in the tutorial. Tutors' tendency to used shared public spaces such as dialogic journals and staff meetings to support each other and share stories about positive or problematic tutoring sessions was particularly apparent in recurring sessions, which became the focus of this study. A total of 260 sessions took place during the semester in which this study was conducted. Nine tutors wrote dialogic journals for each of these sessions, all of which were examined for this study. Eight of the nine tutors agreed to participate in the study, and six of them participated in interviews with the researcher. Seven of the participating tutors recorded 72 sessions, which were transcribed and reviewed. The final data set of fourteen recurring sessions with eight tutors and five students, along with their accompanying journals and available recordings, are examined in detail. This study reveals how the tutors' desire to maintain relational connections among themselves sometimes conflicts with reflective activities that may challenge not only their shared practices, but their cohesion as a group. The primary contribution of this study is to acknowledge the significant connection between relational and reflective activities for peer writing tutors, both for the benefit of the tutor community and the benefit of the student writer.