Honors Thesis

Problem / Opportunity

To fulfill graduation requirements for the Saginaw Valley State University Honors Program, students complete a thesis related to their field of study. To bridge my work in the SVSU Writing Center and the SVSU Center for Usability Studies and Universal Design, I wanted to explore an issue in writing center scholarship with my thesis mentor, Dr. Bill Williamson: the lack of (support for) replicable, aggregable, data-driven (RAD) research.


  • Heuristic evaluation
  • Cognitive walkthrough


  • Microsoft Word


Through my exploration of this issue, I discovered usability studies served as an example of ‘RAD’ research, one easily adopted by writing center administrators and scholars. To test this discovery, I conducted two forms of usability tests (a heuristic evalution and a cognitive walkthrough) on a common piece of software used in writing centers today: WCONLINE®, which is a platform upon which many online writing centers are hosted. My ‘RAD’ results suggest that usability studies are a way for writing centers to engage in this credible subset of research methodologies.