Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Tony Silva

Committee Chair

Dr. Tony Silva

Committee Member 1

Dr. Margie Berns

Committee Member 2

Dr.Luciana de Oliveira

Committee Member 3

Dr.Wei Hong


According to the Purdue University International Students and Scholars Enrollment & Statistical Report 10-year Enrollment Trends (2014), over the past ten years there has been an 85% growth in the number of international students matriculating at Purdue. As stated in the Purdue University Fall 2014 International Student and Scholar Enrollment & Statistical Report (2013), Purdue University now enrolls 9,080 international students representing 123 countries. This being the case, Purdue University is among the first five top institutions in the nation hosting international students (Open Doors Report-Institute of International Education, 2014). In recent years, Chinese students make up the largest international student population. At the moment, a total of 4,617 Chinese students are enrolled at Purdue, 3,241 of which are undergraduate students (International Student and Scholar Enrollment & Statistical Report, 2014). While the increase in international student numbers may be a positive step towards diversity on campus and a contribution to the local and state economy, it has brought on challenges in many educational settings at Purdue. The ENGL 106 mainstream first-year composition course is one of them. There is a need to reconsider the existing one-size-fits-all curriculum and pedagogies used in ENGL 106 so as to better meet the needs of Purdue's ever-growing diverse international student population more generally and the large percentage of Chinese students more specifically enrolled in this course. In order to do that, conducting a needs analysis of undergraduate international students is crucial. ^ In my dissertation, I conducted a needs assessment specific to a subgroup: Chinese students' in ENGL 106 courses at Purdue University, a large land grant R1 research university in the Midwest. The needs analysis involved two educational settings: the Introductory Composition at Purdue (ICaP) ENGL 106 courses offered at Purdue over one semester and the Purdue Writing Lab, which both cater to large numbers of Chinese students. ^ Using a mixed methods research design, I investigated the needs of Chinese students in ENGL 106 mainstream composition courses in the context of the Purdue Writing Lab. The conceptual framework informing this study was descriptive research study. In this study, I conducted a survey and an interview with three Chinese ENGL106 students who used the Writing Lab in order to identify their varying writing needs in ENGL106. I also conducted a survey and interviews with three Purdue Writing Lab tutors to determine tutors' perceptions of the varying needs of Chinese students more generally. Finally, I analyzed the writing in 11 samples of student essays collected from Chinese students who took ENGL 106. ^ The research questions explored in this study were (1) What are Purdue University Writing lab tutors' perceptions of Chinese students' rhetorical, linguistic, and strategic needs in ENGL106 mainstream composition courses? (2) What are Chinese students' perceptions of their own rhetorical, linguistic, rhetorical, and strategic needs? (3) Do triangulated study findings from tutors and students match up? ^ The findings reveal that Chinese students are in need of more rhetorical, linguistic, and strategic support in ENGL106 mainstream composition courses. The major linguistic needs are in areas related vocabulary use, verb tenses, articles and prepositions; rhetorical needs are observed in the areas of genre and audience awareness. The strategic needs are ample as the students do not seem to make use of any of the writing strategies that would scaffold their writing activities. Implications for these results related to instructor and tutor training will also be addressed.