Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


English Rhetoric and Composition


Lucia Durá


Graduate writing can manifest as a barrier to successful and timely degree completion as writing is the primary modality in which graduate programs use to evaluate depth of learning and quality of knowledge created. Native language status, inexperience with advanced academic genres, time away from the academy, and socialization struggles are factors that can aggravate writing challenges. The purpose of this qualitative study is to better understand the graduate writing experiences of twelve women returning to the academy. The study asks if writing manifests as a barrier to completing their graduate programs, ascertains what kinds of graduate-level writing supports they find most helpful/least helpful, and then suggests steps UTEP, and potentially other institutions could take to design writing initiatives that target the specific needs of this demographic. The dissertation combines action research to Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), and Feminist Standpoint Theory (FST) into a participant-centered methodology. Findings reveal the specific, daunting academic challenges that women graduate students with complex and competing activity systems face as well as the affordances and resources that they pull together through peers and mentors to accomplish their writing projects. This study also describes in-depth a peer writing coach model that developed between the researcher and participants. The peer coaching model proved to be effective in supporting women graduate writers and can be adapted at UTEP and in other higher education settings. Other suggestions for writing tools that emerged from this research include self-advocacy education, providing writing class courses that center on individual projects, graduate student peer support, and program collaborations.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

215 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Jennifer L Wilhite