Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4070
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4097
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This paper examines conceptual metaphor use by graduate-student writing consultants in a university writing center. Our goal was to develop a taxonomy for consultant metaphor in asynchronous online consultations; to find evidence that consultants could produce deliberate metaphors as an instructional strategy when responding asynchronously by e-mail to students and their texts; and to compare these data with Thonus’s (2010) investigation of consultant metaphor use in face-to-face consultations, Results showed that writing consultants trained in the use of strategic metaphors employed them in subsequent consultations. In addition, trained consultants used deliberate, coherent, and systematic metaphors in all six categories of our analysis, and they exploited metaphors students had developed in their writing. In comparison with their pre-training metaphor use, the consultants demonstrated increased metaphor use after training and used metaphors significantly differently from consultants who had received no training. We discuss these results in terms of deliberate vs. non-deliberate metaphor use in writing instruction, and we consider the feasibility and advisability of training writing center consultants to employ metaphors — specifically coherent, systematic metaphors — as vehicles for writing instruction in an online setting.


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