A recent empirical study conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting (IRR) at Salt Lake Community College found that students who used the SLCC Student Writing Center (SWC) earned higher grades in a variety of courses compared to students who did not. The study also found that students who used the SWC returned for the next semester at higher rates than students who did not.
The findings from the study are particularly relevant to the first goal in SLCC’s 2017-2023 Strategic Plan to increase student completion, especially for students enrolled in General Education Core Skills and Distribution Area courses such as Communications 1010, English 1010 & 2010, History 1700, Math 1030, and Psychology 1100. Students in these courses who worked with peer and faculty consultants in the SWC earned course grades averaging a half letter-grade higher than their peers and showed slightly higher enrollments in the subsequent semester. A half-letter grade difference can determine whether a student moves along in their program of study or not. For example, a “C-” in some courses would need to be repeated for transfer while a half-grade higher--a “C” or “C+”--allows students to move on to take other classes.
According to the IRR report, “Students in their second term or later who used the SWC received higher grades in the originating course compared to their peers who did not use the SWC, even after adjusting for differences due to gender, ethnicity, prior academic performance (GPA), accumulated credits, term and number of terms attended.” The report also states that “Students in their second term or later who used the SWC also returned for the next semester at higher rates compared to their peers in the matched data who did not use the SWC.”
The IRR study also found positive impacts on new students who used the SWC’s tutoring services. While not able to be adjusted for prior academic performance, the findings about new students suggested “the effect of SWC use on grades and retention may well have been larger for new students than it was for returning students.”