Making sense of resistance in an afterschool tutoring program

Learning from volunteer writing tutors


  • Robert A. Kohls San Francisco State University





The term resistance has been an evolving concept in literacy and composition studies. While much has been studied in terms of student resistance in high schools, first-year composition classrooms, and in university writing centers, little is known about how resistance occurs in afterschool tutoring programs between volunteer writing tutors and their tutees. Using an ethnographic case study approach, this paper examines how three adult volunteer writing tutors made sense of resistance in working with their adolescent tutees in an urban tutoring program. The findings showed that tutor attitudes, values, and reactions shaped their experience of resistance in a variety of ways including a) misreading tutee signals of engagement; b) masking expectations of cultural and linguistic compliance within a discourse of resistance; and c) embracing resistance as a bridge to tutor growth. The author uses these findings to inform current conceptions of student resistance and compliance and to provide implication for volunteer tutor training.

Author Biography

Robert A. Kohls, San Francisco State University

Robert A. Kohls is Assistant Professor of TESOL in the Department of English Language and Literature.


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How to Cite

Kohls, R. A. . (2020). Making sense of resistance in an afterschool tutoring program: Learning from volunteer writing tutors. Writing and Pedagogy, 11(3), 351–376.



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