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The Development of Writing Centers in Japanese Higher Education


This dissertation introduces the concept of literate histories as a way of looking into a student writer’s path as a developing writer and their relationship with writing activities and institutions that sponsor writing. Using the concept of literate histories as an analytical lens, this dissertation examines how the US-born idea of writing centers had entered and is spreading in the changing Japanese higher educational system. Specifically, through a detailed examination of university writing centers, it aims to understand the growing exigency of writing in Japanese higher education and how writing centers can serve as sponsors of writing to student writers in an evolving context. The writing center movement has its roots in progressive education, however, the writing center has historically been associated with remedial work in the U.S. The writing center movement has spread to Japan, and universities across Japan are taking the initiative to advance the idea of fostering independent writers through one-on-one instruction at the writing center. Through ethnographic observations of tutoring sessions and interviews, this research presents an alternative view of the writing center. Specifically, through the lens of literate histories, it demonstrates how the writing center can serve as sponsors of writing to university student writers of diverse backgrounds. From this view, the writing center work is no longer remedial but is a resource that may help students in enacting disciplinary identities through the teaching of writing. Finally, writing center researchers have emphasized the importance of replicable, aggregable, and data-support (RAD) research in recent years. This dissertation, which offers a historical account of teaching of writing in Japanese education, offers a methodological contribution to writing center research by adding new codes to analyze tutor-tutee conversations and in turn, aims to advance writing center work.

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