The Writing Center’s Role in Disciplinary Writing Development: Enhancing Discourse Community Knowledge through Metacognitive Dialogue from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.2

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McGovern, Brendan T.

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This research contributes to our knowledge about writers’ acquisition of discourse community knowledge within tutorial sessions. This study examines the dialogue of writing center sessions focused on disciplinary writing by applying the coding schemas of discursive tutoring strategies (Mackiewicz and Thompson) and domains of discourse community knowledge (Beaufort). Drawing on data from coded session transcripts and post-session interviews with eight undergraduate students, this study sought to analyze how the co-occurrence of established tutoring practices and domains of discourse community knowledge contribute to writers’ disciplinary writing development. Trends in the results indicate that the metacognitive dialogue within tutorial sessions co-constructs discourse community knowledge through tutors explaining genre and rhetorical knowledge while writers contribute writing process and subject matter knowledge. Furthermore, the results from student interviews indicate that tutors take on the instructional role that professors and TAs of disciplinary courses cannot take on due to institutional constraints. Finally, the results of this research suggest that writing center practitioners can include existing frameworks of genre theory to situate the writer more clearly within the conventions of their discourse community.


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