Writing Center Journal


In this exploratory study, we took as our point of departure Lori Salem’s (2016) call to investigate the factors that affect students’ decisions to visit the writing center. Rather than exploring student decision-making through a sociological lens, as Salem does, we drew on insights from social psychology to understand students’ motivations. We explored two self-theories drawn from social psychology that are associated with students’ academic achievement and with students’ help-seeking: (1) implicit beliefs about intelligence or “mindsets”; and (2) sense of belonging. Using questions from previously validated scales, we measured first-year students’ mindsets and sense of belonging and tested the relationships between these self-theories and students’ visits to the writing center. We found correlations between students’ mindsets and their willingness to seek support, but the relationships differed between minoritized students and comparison students. Although the numbers are modest, we noted a difference in the relationship between sense of belonging and writing center visits for minoritized students. Our study suggests areas for future research, which has the potential to change the way that writing centers conduct outreach to students and has possible implications both for our marketing efforts and tutor training.