Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Linda T. Calendrillo


When students go to a writing center to be tutored, they expect a certain type of instruction based on their prior experiences. Many students are perplexed to find that the parameters of writing center instruction are quite different than they anticipated. The resulting conflict between student expectations and actual center methods often induces tensions which can impede the effectiveness tutorial instruction. This thesis explores the basis of student expectations, strategies for addressing student expectations in practice, and the importance of acknowledging these expectations in writing center theory.

Chapter 1 discusses the incongruous relationship between writing center theory and practice and how the lack of attention paid to student expectations in writing center literature has figured in the formation of this incongruity. Chapter 2 focuses on research projects which have attempted to accurately assess specific student expectations. This chapter also examines the common influences on student expectations as well as factors which promote misconceptions and unrealistic expectations. In Chapter 3, tactics for reducing the tension caused by unmet student expectations are proposed. While this chapter notes the benefits of incorporating legitimate expectations of students into practice, it details several approaches for modifying students' expectations through writing center image clarification. Chapter 4 recognizes that tutors can provide valuable insight as other writing center professionals continue to adapt and develop theory. This chapter suggests methods for improving tutor training so that tutors are better equipped to work through tensions that surface when tutees' expectations aren't met, amend student misconceptions, and employ flexibility in tutoring techniques to instruct a diversity of students effectively.