Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Cogie, Jane

Abstract

To discover possible avenues for countering low attendance at the University of Southern Indiana's writing center by students in the two pre-core curriculum basic writing classes, this study explored the basic writing students' reasons for not attending the writing center. Since their attitudes toward writing and collaboration as well as some of their perceptions of the writing center seemed likely to influence their decision to attend or not attend, the study explored these areas as well. A survey of students in nineteen sections of the two classes, General Studies 098 and English 100, was the main method used in the study, with interviews with several volunteers from these courses supplementing the surveys. These methods resulted in a number of findings. First, the majority of students in both the surveys and interviews expressed preference for feedback from instructors over other resources, including writing consultants. The surveys also revealed possible gender and ethnicity differences in attitudes toward writing center use, including that males might be more reluctant to use the writing center than females and that non-white students were more likely to use the writing center than white students in spite of being less likely to perceive that the writing consultants care about their success. The survey results suggest a correlation between familiarity with the Writers' Room and positive perceptions of the service, although this finding was contradicted by the responses of one of the interviewed English 100 students and thus would benefit from investigation through further research. Finally, the survey results showed that even though students who expressed generally positive attitudes toward collaboration and viewed writing consultants as caring did not perceive the writing consultants as particularly helpful compared to other resources. These findings suggest that greater familiarity with the writing center--such as through required visits for students in the lower level course--might result in more students visiting as well as more positive attitudes toward the writing center.

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