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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The writing center as a global pedagogy : a case study of a Japanese university seeking internationalization Okuda (Otani), Tomoyo


The writing center is a common writing support service in North America with unique historical and theoretical underpinnings (Boquet, 1999; Bruffee, 1984; North, 1984). In the last couple of decades, it has truly become a global pedagogy, being implemented in around 65 countries worldwide (e.g., Archer, 2007; Bräuer, 2002; Tan, 2011). Although writing centers have been well received by international scholars, more studies are needed to discuss the economic and political imperatives of establishing writing centers in respective contexts and possible impacts on different student populations as a result. To address this issue, this multilayered case study explores how the educational philosophy, pedagogical rationale and concepts of the global writing pedagogy are interpreted by administrators and enacted in pedagogical practice at Maple Leaves University (MLU), an internationalizing university in Japan. To examine the language planning stage, data were collected from interviews with five administrators and relevant university documents. For pedagogical practices, primary data included audio-recordings and student interviews from four tutor-tutee dyads concerning three types of writing tutorials: (a) Japanese students seeking consultation on Japanese writing, (b) Japanese students seeking consultation on English writing, and (c) international students seeking consultation on Japanese writing. By looking at process of implementation from a language policy and practice perspective (Hornberger, 2005; Ricento & Hornberger, 1996), this study found that the MLU Writing Center was caught between ideal literacy/educational practices of a “world-class university” (Deem, Mok, & Lucas, 2008) and the local literacy realities at MLU. In the language planning, the internationalizing goals of a world-class university (e.g., English language policies, increasing international student enrollment, and student-centered education reforms) were the primary motives behind the establishment of MLU’s Writing Center. In tutorial practices, particular aspects of the Writing Center pedagogy were challenged by tutees’ disciplinary practices, beliefs towards non-native English tutors, and Japanese language learning needs. This study adds a policy perspective to the scholarship of writing centers, encouraging further research into the macro-context of writing centers and suggesting tutors be considered as key literacy educators who could better inform policy-making from the bottom-up.

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