What Do Graduate Students Want From The Writing Center? Tutoring Practices To Support Dissertations and Thesis Writers
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Graduate writers—who are experienced students and emerging experts in their fields—face a range of challenges in academic writing, including finding the confidence to write, integrating relevant literature, and interpreting data (Kamler and Thomson 1). Graduate programs require students to produce a large quantity of high-quality, varied writing, and without focused support, developing “these skills may be a function of chance rather than design” (Aitchison 907). Addressing this gap between preparation and expected performance, the Council of Graduate Schools Ph.D. Completion Project recommends writing support as a way to shorten doctoral degree completion time and improve retention. The project calls for writing assistance “through trained writing coaches or writing consultants,” ideally senior-level graduate students, and advises universities to create opportunities for students to “focus on the dissertation . . . receive feedback, and build peer support” (“Executive Summary” 4). Since a lack of help and peer interaction contributes to high attrition rates from doctoral programs, particularly among students in marginalized positions, the stakes of this discussion are high.