Ongoing Research Projects

Research is an integral part of the SJSU Writing Center. The Writing Center Director is currently engaged in numerous research projects. In addition, student writing tutors and other staff and faculty members who work at the Writing Center are given the opportunity to engage in research projects during their tenure at the Writing Center.

Writing Center Blogs

Michelle Hager is working with Dr. Julia Bleakney, the Writing Center Director at Elon University, on a project about writing center blogs. In 2016-2017, they conducted a survey that was disseminated via the WCenter listserv and the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) member list; it was also posted in the Facebook group for writing center directors. The survey gathered information about details such as blog authors, intended audience and purpose, and the number and frequency of posts. Maria Judnick, Writing Center Digital Initiatives Coordinator (and manager of The Write Attitude) will be joining them in their research. They are currently writing a literature review and discussing possible venues for publication.

Collaborative Research with WAC 

Michelle Hager is also a principal investigator in the following research projects with the SJSU Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Director, Dr. Tom Moriarty. 

The following information about current collaborative research projects is also posted on the WAC website.

  • Comparing Utilization Patterns of Embedded Writing Fellows and Writing Center Tutors
    Principal Investigators: Michelle Hager and Tom Moriarty
    Using the data we are collecting from Writing Fellows and Writing Center tutors, we are examining the usage patterns of each. Our hypothesis is that students meet with Writing
    Fellows earlier in the writing process.

  • Writing Fellows in Stretch English Classes: An Empirical Study
    Principal Investigators: Michelle Hager and Tom Moriarty
    Comparison between sections supported by Fellows and sections without Fellows, on a variety of survey measures and student writing samples.

  • Writing Fellows in Writing-Intensive Courses Outside the English Department: An Empirical Study
    Principal Investigators: Michelle Hager and Tom Moriarty
    Comparison between sections supported by Fellows and sections without Fellows, on a variety of survey measures and student writing samples.

They have already presented some of this research at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), and they are currently working on turning their most recent presentation into a publishable piece.

Writing Center Alumni Project

Last summer, Michelle Hager administered a survey to former students who worked at the Writing Center (collecting both qualitative and quantitative data). The survey results reveal the impact the Writing Center has on student employees. We currently have former Writing Center tutors teaching at various levels, working as writers or editors in tech companies such as Facebook and Netgear, and studying in PhD programs. Without exception, the survey responses detail how working at the SJSU Writing Center professionalizes the writing tutors and teaches them valuable, transferrable skills.


2016-2017 Research Projects

In the 2016-2017 academic year, Shannon Bane conducted a survey of current writing needs in STEM, as well as an inventory and analysis of specific pedagogy for university-level STEM and STEM-related writing classes. She also included an analysis of current STEM writing curriculum and requirements at San Jose State University and suggested ways in which the Writing Center might support students in these majors. Her complete report is available below. 

Best Practices for Teaching Writing in STEM

In the spring 2017 semester, graduate-level Writing Center tutor Saya Morita conducted a research project that examined client reports written by SJSU Writing Center tutors during the fall 2016 term. Specifically, she analyzed what tutors and students discussed when they worked on grammar, content, organization, and formatting; she also studied why and how often the focus of a tutoring session changes. (e.g., If a student initially requests to work on grammar during a session, how often does the focus change to content once the session is actually conducted?) Her findings concluded that 30% of our tutoring sessions changed focus in fall 2016, most of them from grammar to content. These findings are consistent with our tutor training, in which we encourage tutors to try to focus on higher-order concerns first. Saya presented this research at the CCCC@SJSU regional conference. Her complete report is available below.

Understanding the Needs of Student Writers and Why Tutoring Sessions Change Focus


Past Faculty Projects

Gloria Collins, Faculty-in-Residence, 2011-2012