An empirical study of students' expectations of writing centers

Deborah Lucia DePiero, University of Rhode Island


Students entering college have not, for the most part, previously had experience using writing centers. Most students will encounter a writing center for the first time in college. ^ Anecdotal evidence based on observations of and conversations with students by writing tutors, as well as a pilot study of student expectations and attitudes regarding writing indicate that these expectations and attitudes may be keeping students from using the writing center. However, a search of the literature reveals that little research has been done in this area. This dissertation attempts to identify and interpret the expectations and attitudes that beginning college students have about writing centers when they enter college; and examine to what extent these expectations match with the realities typical of college writing centers. ^ Data was gathered from surveys administered to students in all 100 level writing courses; over five hundred surveys were returned, representing almost fifty percent of students taking introductory writing. Students were asked to fill out a ten question survey during the first week of classes, fall 2006. The questions were designed to determine the attitudes and expectations that students have regarding the Writing Center before they are exposed to class visits designed to introduce the Writing Center. ^ The research indicates that students have three almost equal expectations in using the Writing Center: becoming a better writer, writing a better paper, and getting a better grade. Students often, however, do not have the rhetorical vocabulary to express these expectations. Many students expressed anxiety at the thought of using the Writing Center, but the vast majority also found the idea hopeful. Data from the survey support that there is a gap between what tutors and students expect from a tutoring session. ^

Subject Area

Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Deborah Lucia DePiero, "An empirical study of students' expectations of writing centers" (2007). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3276979.