Post 2: More Reading and (Finally) Data Analysis

Hello! I’m writing this a little late,  but since my first update was a little late, I figured that this would balanced it out.

In the past week, I have finally begun to sit down with all the data I collected and started analyzing for trends.  While I am still hopeful for more responses, I decided that it was time to take a step towards interpreting the data I have collected.

I also discovered a book that was perfect for guiding me into the next stage of my research.  Titled Strategies for Writing Center Research by Jackie Grutsch McKinney, the book provided advice for the planning, collecting, and analysis of data for research specifically on writing centers.  I found this incredibly helpful as it merged the gap that I was walking between my experience in STEM research and the more qualitative nature of tutoring data.  A few noteworthy quotes from the book are “the work of writing center as more than tutoring,”(17) and “they see surveys as a way to “test” assumptions on which we operate, to see if our own perspectives play out in the larger population” (74).

Now, I will dive into those tests of assumptions.    When I began my research, I had my predictions about what would be different at the two levels as I have experienced both.  Some of these predictions held up, but some were surprisingly dismantled. One of my predictions was that college tutors worked more hours per week than high school tutors.  I found that high school tutors worked 0-4 hours with none working above that and college tutors working 4-8 hours with none below that, demonstrating a stark contrast between the two levels.  Below is a table that I created with the results of my survey question regarding average hours worked per week.

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One of the more surprising results was that of the question regarding the age demographic seen in the two levels.  In my experience, I found that in high school I worked mostly with freshmen on their history or english paper or seniors on their college applications, whereas in college I saw a wide range of students coming in to get tutored.  My results did not follow this trend as there was an even split of responses in secondary schools for sophomores, seniors, and other (this was likely for a secondary school that also sees 7th and 8th graders in the writing center).  As for the university level, there were no responses other than for freshmen being seen in the writing center.  This information can be easily followed in the graph provided below.

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My plan for the final week of my research is to finish compiling all my data, interpreting, and writing my paper summary.  I also will be building a pamphlet guide for experienced high school tutors entering the college writing center based on the data that I have received.

If you have any questions or comments on my research thus far, please comment at the end of the post or email me at crcecil@email.wm.edu .  I hope you all are having a lovely last week of summer.

Comments

  1. Hello!

    I was intrigued by your choice of subject, writing centers, as someone who participated as a writing center tutor (briefly) in high school, and I think it poses interesting and unique questions. I had a few quick questions for you regarding your methodology, if you have the time! First, in your abstract post you mention contacting universities and schools, but in the follow up you mention contacting professionals. (And good for you! Cold emailing is difficult) I was wondering if you could clarify, did you end up doing both or just the latter? Secondly, if you did choose to email high schools, how you chose the 6 schools from a very large number. Were you going for diversity of location (urban/suburban/rural, area of Virginia, etc.) or some method of random sampling?

    Finally, I found your results interesting! I probably would have made the same assumptions you did at the beginning, and though I am not surprised the university level sees such a large skew towards freshman utilization of writing centers, I am shocked it is 100%! I am enthusiastic about seeing the responses to your other questions, especially since they seemed to be the ones that pose more of a challenge organizing and analyzing because, as you point out, of their more qualitative/open-ended nature.

    Thank you!
    Lydia

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