Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Mattingly, Carol, 1945-

Author's Keywords

Writing center; Pedagogy; Qualitative research; Tutoring


Tutors and tutoring; English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching (Higher)


In this dissertation, I present the results of research conducted in the University Writing Center at the University of Louisville during the fall of 2006 and serves as an example of an empirical study blending qualitative and quantitative methods. It highlights and critiques the strategies tutors use to address students' concerns about their writing during writing tutorials by addressing two research questions: (1) What strategies do tutors employ during tutorials to address higher-order concerns? And, what strategies do tutors employ during tutorials to address later-order concerns? (2) How are these strategies perceived by participants in tutorials? The data revealed that tutors tend to use three of the same strategies to address both higher-order and later-order concerns: Open-Ended Questioning, Reader Response, and Suggestion. Although tutors employed more strategies to address later-order concerns, which is congruent with advice from tutor-training manuals, they used these three strategies as default strategies throughout the observed tutorials. These strategies can be used effectively to address higher-order and later-order concerns; however, when used broadly, unique problems and potential pitfalls surfaced. The data also revealed that strategies generally assumed by writing center scholars to lessen control over the student and his or her writing can be used just as easily as other strategies to dominate the tutorial. Other factors apart from the strategies themselves affect whether the tutor dominates the tutorial, including amount of time the tutor pauses to allow the student to answer questions or respond to suggestions, students' overall level of participation/interest in the tutorial, students' expectations for the tutorial, and tutors' listening to students' concerns (really "hearing" those concerns). Moreover, the use of praise and time spent on rapport building may have an effect on whether the tutor dominates the tutorial. These findings invite further investigation and research.