Measuring the Effect of Writing Center Visits on Student Performance from Praxis: A Writing Center Journal Vol.19 No.3

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Zuccarelli, Joseph
Cuningham, Nicholas
Elis, Colleen G.
Lee, Andrew
Cumminskey, Kevin

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Given the recent rise of data science, a growing number of scholars are publishing quantitative studies on the impacts of writing centers. Typically, these studies aim to answer assessment-style questions such as “Who visits the writing center?” and “Are writing center visits effective in terms of increasing student performance?” The majority of these studies feature the application of common statistical approaches such as correlation and regression analysis, which provide useful but limited results. In this article, we apply a more complex statistical method known as propensity score matching in order to identify factors associated with writing center attendance as well as the effect of visits on student written performance. In total, we analyzed two semesters of visits to the Mounger Writing Center (MWC) at the United States Military Academy at West Point and over 2,500 student records of signature writing assignments. We found statistically significant evidence that race and gender are associated with attendance, specifically that women and historically underrepresented students are more likely to visit the writing center for signature writing assignments. We identified the presence of a causal relationship between MWC visits and student grades on signature writing assignments, as those who visited the MWC multiple times received grades approximately 2% greater on average compared to those who did not visit. Ultimately, this article provides administrators with a more robust quantitative framework to assess the efficacy of their writing center, thus enabling for more informed programmatic decisions.


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