Creating an Effective Writing Center: A Case Study on Improving Student Writing

Kathryn Leber, Walden University


The writing skills of students in the United States have been declining, leaving many unprepared for the academic demands of college as well as for the current job market. There is a need to improve students' writing skills to bridge these gaps. The purpose of this case study was to examine students and instructors perceptions regarding the services provided by a college writing center.. Knowles's theory of andragogy was used to emphasize the importance of focusing on adult learners and the motivation behind adult learning with regard to students' decisions to visit campus resources such as the writing center. The key research questions concerned students' expectations of the writing center, why instructors required writing center visits, whether students voluntarily returned to the writing center, how instructors perceived student sessions as improving student papers/assignments, and suggestions for improving writing center services by means of student and instructor feedback. Qualitative data were collected via interviews with 10 faculty who were not involved in the writing program and 10 students who had visited the writing center recently. Results were analyzed and coded for themes and trends. The findings showed that although faculty and students were pleased with writing support services, steps could be taken to improve them. Recommendations include creating consistent hours for the writing center, implementing a training manual for writing center consultants, offering faculty professional development hours, and improving campus outreach. This doctoral project helped in understanding how the study site can use the writing center as a resource to improve students' writing abilities and thereby act as a bridge toward greater academic success for students in all college courses.