Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Cecilia Parnther

Second Advisor

Richard Bernato

Third Advisor

Anthony Annunziato


Ensuring success in higher education among underrepresented students is vital to social equity. The current study seeks to discover the relationships between writing center usage, engagement, and social capital acquisition among underrepresented student populations. The current research contextualizes interaction and engagement opportunities for underrepresented students by drawing on multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to consider the influence of writing center usage in relationship to social capital gains in the context of a large, private suburban university. The related literature and concepts in the fields of interaction, engagement, and social capital ultimately link to writing centers, writing center work, and underrepresented student populations. The purpose of this study is to identify if and how writing centers leverage students’ social capital through social and academic engagement. The student experiences described and analyzed in this study speak directly to how writing center work is perceived and utilized among underserved, underrepresented student populations, and how the interactions and engagement that happen during writing center appointments contribute to social capital attainment. The results of this study found that the writing center and the services and relationships fostered through writing center work are a valuable resource for underrepresented student populations. Writing centers contribute to and leverage existing social capital through social and academic engagement. Most students developed skills pertinent to their academic and social growth, which increased with usage. Although students only initiated visits to get help with a singular assignment, the activities and resources utilized during appointments were beneficial to students’ holistic writing process at the college-level. Students and administrators indicate that faculty and program requirements are essential to students’ decision-making process for their initial visit to the writing center and a factor in their decision to make subsequent appointments.