Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Wolfe, Joanna Lynn

Author's Keywords

Reading aloud; Tutoring methods; Writing centers


Writing centers; English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching (Higher); Oral reading


Reading aloud in writing center sessions is a common practice, one that is both under-studied and under-theorized. In an attempt to begin to address this gap, this dissertation conducts an empirical analysis of three different methods of reading aloud in the writing center: client-read, tutor-read, and point-predict. Client-read and tutor-read are traditional approaches to reading in writing centers; point-predict was adapted into a tutoring method from a peer-review method by Barbara Sitko. In order to examine these methods, a study of 24 writing center sessions—eight of each method—was conducted. Sessions were recorded, transcribed, and coded for initiator and writing issues discussed. Clients and tutors were given post-session surveys that asked for their assessment of the session and what they believed it focused upon. The four tutor participants were also interviewed about their thoughts on the study after they had the chance to work as Composition instructors. This dissertation is divided into four chapters. Chapter One provides a literature review, Chapter Two addresses the transcript and survey analysis , Chapter Three uses tutors interviews to question common assumptions within writing center lore, and Chapter Four offers ideas for future research and implications for practice. The most striking finding of this study is the strong suggestion that reading methods have a significant impact on the outcome of tutoring sessions—especially on the amount of attention given to global and local issues—and that current beliefs that having clients read aloud is the best way to ensure a global focus, client control, and client engagement may be incorrect. Specifically, this study found that traditional tutor-read sessions focused three-fourths of their conversation on local issues, whereas point-predict sessions focused only a fourth of their discussion on these issues and gave far more attention to organization, signposting, and content. Clients were also about twice as likely to initiate globally-focused discussions in point-predict sessions as in other session types. Consequently, this dissertation concludes that writing center practitioners need to more closely analyze the current reading methods they employ and seek out new reading methods that might be better suited at catalyzing global, engaged, client-focused sessions.