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Stars Aligned: The Impact of a Star Rating System on WC Success

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

By Lodan Elmugamer

Abstract

This study examines the potential impact of implementing a star rating system at the Writing Center (WC) of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) on the tutors, the tutees, and the WC as a whole. The current lack of information about other students' experiences with tutors on the WC website makes it difficult for students to choose a tutor, therefore it is important to study the potential effects of a star rating system. Data was collected through surveys of AUS WC tutors and AUS students, as well as an interview with the WC coordinator. The results suggest that a rating system could motivate tutors to work harder, but could also negatively impact their mental health. While the system could greatly assist students in selecting tutors, it could create a competitive and toxic environment between tutors and an awkward relationship between tutors and tutees, disrupting the supportive and collaborative dynamic of the WC. The study emphasizes the importance of finding alternative ways to help students choose tutors that take into consideration the well-being of the tutors and the overall WC environment. The suggested alternatives to the star rating system include a moderated written review system and a tutor-of-the-week program.


Keywords: writing center, tutors, tutees, star rating system


Stars Aligned: The Impact of a Star Rating System on WC Success

Going from high school to university is a major milestone that can be both exciting and daunting. Aside from the unnerving challenges, the pressure to succeed academically and the overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety caused me a great deal of confusion when I first joined AUS. For instance, during my first semester at AUS, my professor strongly recommended that students visit the WC to gain extra credit. As a result, I visited the WC on occasion. However, I found the process of booking an appointment overwhelming due to the lack of background information on the available tutors. There were several instances where my friends and I would place tutor names in a random wheel generator to select a tutor. Despite the addition of a document with introductions about each tutor on the WC website the following semester, I still struggled to select a suitable tutor.

Although visiting the WC was very helpful and informative, selecting a tutor always caused great confusion. This led me to ponder the possibility of implementing a student rating system for the tutors. Due to its popularity, I thought of the star rating system, which is a one to five star classification system used by various organizations. Generally, the topic of implementing a rating system, particularly a star rating system in a WC, is not widely researched by individuals. Thus, in writing this research paper, I will be drawing conclusions based on the implementation of the same or similar systems in different organizations. Due to the positive influence that online ratings have on my purchasing and subscription decisions, I believe that a star performance rating system should be implemented in the WC due to its positive influence on the tutors, the tutees, and the WC overall.

Effects of a Star Rating System on Tutors

When considering the implementation of a star rating system, it is vital to consider the consequences that would fall on the tutors. Such effects include those on their work motivation as well as their mental health. According to Pope (2019), performance evaluations have been used to improve employees’ productivity. The motive behind performance evaluations is that these publicly released performance ratings may be capable of using peer pressure to improve the performance of employees. Furthermore, a study by the Los Angeles Times released ratings for teachers and elementary schools in August 2010 (“Teachers blast L.A. Times for releasing”, 2010, as cited in Pope, 2019). Researchers used this as an experiment to see if releasing ratings affected test scores. They found that students with low-rated teachers did better in math and English tests. However, students of high-rated teachers did not see much of a difference (Pope, 2019). An increase in the students’ test grades of low-rated teachers suggest that publishing ratings could improve test scores because of an improvement in teacher performance. To elaborate, the improvement in the effectiveness of low-rated teachers may be attributed to their increased effort and some redistribution of teaching resources from the teachers’ higher-rated subjects to their lower-rated subjects (Pope, 2019). Therefore, it is easy to conclude that implementing a rating system will positively influence and motivate tutors to work harder to receive better ratings.

Many organizations provide their employees with performance reviews to help them meet specific standards. However, these evaluations can have unintended consequences, as several studies have shown that they can cause stress for employees. The pressure to meet expectations or explain inadequate performance can lead to increased stress levels, particularly when evaluations occur frequently (Messner, 2009). Moreover, frequent performance reviews can create a constant need for employees to justify their actions and prove the value of their work, which can lead to a persistent concern about demonstrating the worth of their efforts (Messner, 2009). These suggestions by Messner are supported by recent research conducted by Frimanson et al. (2021) which indicate that there is a positive correlation between the frequency of performance evaluations and the level of stress experienced by service providers. Thus, it can be concluded that frequent evaluations can cause significant stress for employees, making it difficult for them to perform their job effectively. Overall, while performance evaluations are intended to help employees meet specific standards, they can have negative consequences for employees, including increased stress levels and persistent concerns about demonstrating the value of their work.

In peer tutoring, the ultimate goal is to offer a supportive and enriching learning experience to fellow students through collaboration and mutual trust. Nevertheless, the introduction of a star rating system for tutors can prove to be a double-edged sword. While it may initially encourage tutors to work harder and improve their job performance, it also imposes high expectations on them. Tutors may feel a sense of pressure to receive an average of five stars as anything less might be perceived as inferior to other tutors who have higher ratings. This expectation of perfection can lead to significant stress and anxiety, which can, in turn, harm their effectiveness as tutors and negatively affect their academic performance. Overall, while a star rating system can serve as a potential motivator for tutors, it can also become an unhealthy addiction that adversely impacts their mental health.

In addition, I surveyed the implementation of a star rating system among 18 AUS WC tutors (see Appendix B for survey questions) via google forms sent through email, which revealed tutors’ discomfort with being rated. Results showed that 72.2% of tutors either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the implementation of the system, with only 11.1% agreeing (see Figure D1). Such results were expected given the potential negative effects of a star rating system on the tutors’ mental health. Furthermore, mentioning the inclusion of the star rating next to the tutor's name on the writing center website had little impact on the tutors’ opinion, as 66.7% of tutors said it did not change their previous response (see Figure D2). Furthermore, when asked if the option to write a review would affect their opinion, 61.1% of tutors said no (see Figure D3). Therefore, although 28.9% of tutors were more open to changing their views given a written rating system, tutors in general had strong opinions against the star rating system. The survey provided further insights into the tutors' views on the star rating system by asking the tutors to elaborate on their responses. Tutors used words like "dehumanizing," "misleading," and "demoralizing" to describe their discomfort with the system (see Appendix D for full responses). To add, almost 61.2% of tutors rated their comfort level with the idea of the system as less than five on a scale of one to ten. Graphs in Figure D4 show that tutors are highly uncomfortable with the star rating system. Appendix D contains elaborate responses from the tutors, including their views on the effect of the star rating system on their performance levels. In summary, the survey revealed that a significant percentage of AUS WC tutors are against the implementation of the star rating system and feel uncomfortable about it. These findings suggest that it may not be feasible to introduce the system at AUS, as its implementation may result in a tutor's petition against it.

Effects of a Star Rating System on Tutees

Having discussed the impact of the star rating system on the tutors, it is vital to learn about the effect of the star rating system on the ease of selecting a tutor for the tutees. As per Lafky (2014), given the vast array of options presented to customers, they are often faced with the task of selecting among several options of goods or services that appear similar in terms of their attributes yet may differ in terms of their overall quality. Lack of first-hand experience with offered services can make this challenge particularly daunting for consumers. To address this issue, numerous online retailers have implemented customer-driven rating and review systems (Lafky, 2014). These platforms enable customers to post written reviews and assign numerical scores to the products or services. For instance, according to Lafky (2014), Amazon.com permits customers to provide ratings ranging from one to five stars in one-star increments and also permits them to include written comments regarding products they have bought. The information provided from ratings and reviews can prove invaluable in helping consumers make more informed purchasing decisions (Lafky, 2014). In addition, according to Senecal and Nantel (2004), products and services are twice as likely to be chosen by customers if they are recommended by others. However, the influence of these recommendations is influenced by the source of the recommendation. Online recommendation systems provided by online retailers appear to be more effective than recommendations made by experts or other consumers (Gavilan, 2018).

Moreover, Brown and Kosovich (2015) and Hartman et al. (2013) have explained that Ratemyprofessors.com (RMP) is a website where college students can anonymously evaluate professors and read reviews to help them make decisions about courses. RMP has become popular among students, and its usage has grown rapidly since its establishment in 1999. To date, RMP has received over 19 million evaluations from 1.7 million professors in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (Boswell et al., 2020). Additionally, as per Boswell et al. (2020), on Ratemyprofessors.com, students rate professors based on their level of difficulty and give an overall quality rating using a scale that ranges from one (low) to five (high). According to Boswell et al. (2020), the website's guidelines encourage students to consider a professor's clarity and helpfulness when assigning an overall quality score. Apart from numerical ratings, students can also leave descriptive comments about their impressions of the course and the professor. The innovative ideas and services offered by RMP sparked a growing research interest in examining the impact of RMP on college students.

To elaborate, studies have shown that RMP evaluations can shape students' perceptions of professors. As these evaluations additionally influence students' expectations of professors, they could also affect whether students enroll in RMP-evaluated professors' courses. Early research supports this, with Hayes and Prus (2014) finding that RMP-style evaluations significantly influenced college students' course selection decisions. Additionally, Brown and Kosovich (2015) also observed that course enrollment is correlated with RMP ratings, with courses taught by professors with higher ease and overall quality ratings filling up faster than those taught by their lower-rated professors. Therefore, likewise to college students' and professors’ ratings, implementing a rating system at the AUS WC could help students have clearer ideas on which tutors to book a session with based on ratings.

Similarly, the WC provides students with a range of tutor options who share a common characteristic but possess unique qualities. Each tutor has their background, experience, and approach to teaching writing. For instance, some may have expertise in specific subjects, while others may specialize in certain writing styles. Furthermore, each tutor has their personality, communication style, and teaching methodology. Therefore, students can choose a tutor that aligns with their needs, preferences, and learning style. By having this variety of tutors, the WC can offer personalized support to students and help them improve their writing skills in a way that suits them best. Hence, the implementation of a star rating system would most likely assist the WC in providing personalized support and help students in making more informed decisions when selecting a tutor’s services.

In addition, a google forms survey, sent to AUS students through AUS WhatsApp groups to gather their opinions and feedback on the implementation of a star rating system at the WC (see Appendix C for survey questions), was completed by 28 students. Initially, the students were asked about their basis for booking sessions at the WC. Nearly 39.9% of the students stated that they rely on recommendations from professors or other students (refer to Figure E2). This finding supports the research discussed earlier in this essay, which highlighted that individuals often seek out their colleagues' opinions and previous experiences. In addition, when asked for their views on the proposed star rating system, 53.5% of the students either strongly agreed or agreed with the idea. 25% of the respondents were neutral, while only 21.5% disagreed or strongly disagreed (refer to Figure E5). Given the previous positive research findings of the star rating system on the tutees, the optimistic responses were expected. Generally, students, much like the tutors, held strong opinions on the matter. In response to the question of whether their opinions would change if ratings were displayed next to tutors' names, 53.6% said no, 28.6% said maybe, and only 17.9% said yes (refer to Figure E6). Similarly, when asked about the option to write a review, 42.9% of the students said no, and only 25% said yes (refer to Figure E7). In short, students were very encouraging to the idea of a star rating system.

These survey results suggested that students at AUS would greatly benefit from a student review system for selecting tutors at the WC and would support its implementation. However, the suggestion was neither approved nor disproved. This is because, when asked to elaborate on their choices, the students used words such as "help," "easier," "motivate tutors," "encourage," and "great." However, some students also used words such as "demotivating," "unfair," "bad," and "not accurate." The written responses (refer to Appendix E) suggest that although students would like the opportunity to read reviews of their tutors, they would not want to hurt their feelings. They feel sympathy and concern for their colleagues and are worried that a rating system could harm them. Therefore, a middle ground must be reached that helps students obtain reviews without hurting the tutors in return.

Effects of a Star Rating System on the WC Dynamic

The success or failure of a writing center depends on the interactions among tutors and between tutors and tutees. As a result, it is essential to comprehend how the implementation of a star rating system in AUS would impact these relationships. As mentioned in previous research, a star rating system may lead tutors to constantly strive to be the top-rated tutor, creating unhealthy competition among them that could result in stress and burnout. Swab and Johnson (2018) suggest that competitive situations that are complex and constantly changing can cause stress as individuals assess potential conflicts and decide on appropriate actions. This stress and potential burnout could then negatively impact the tutors' job performance, as burnout is characterized by emotional detachment and exhaustion that stem from work-related activities and can lead to low self-efficacy, as defined by Brotheridge and Grandey (2002). In addition, the competition between tutors may lead to an uncomfortable and stressful atmosphere, resulting in ineffective tutoring sessions. Moreover, tutees may be hesitant to rate tutors due to concerns about negatively impacting their mental health and work performance, as revealed by the tutee survey responses (refer to Appendix E). This tension between tutors and tutees can lead to strained relationships and negatively affect the quality of tutoring sessions. In conclusion, introducing a star rating system in the writing center could alter the friendly environment and create competition, which could harm both tutor-tutor and tutor-tutee relationships.

During an interview with Dr. Maria Eleftheriou, the AUS WC coordinator, she shared her initial thoughts on the star rating system, stating that “I initially thought that this would be a nice way to give some guidance to students, but I also did consider that there would be some issues as well. The issue would be that there would have to be some heavy moderation.” These concerns were also echoed by some tutors and tutees, as seen in the survey responses (refer to Appendices D and E, respectively). Many tutors and students were worried about the potential for bias and inaccurate ratings, which could significantly impact the tutors' work. Dr. Maria also expressed concerns about the impact of a star rating system on the Writing Center's cooperative environment, stating that "it might affect the pleasant environment that we have at the writing center. It’s just a nice and comfortable environment. I worry that having star ratings where maybe they feel more competitive with one another because they want more stars than their colleagues could affect the really pleasant ambiance that we have there." Her arguments align with the research presented above, suggesting that a star rating system could shift the WC’s cooperative environment to a competitive one.

When asked if she believed a written review system would be better than a star rating system (see Appendix F), Dr. Maria stated that “I like that better because I think it wouldn’t be as threatening to the tutors, and yet the students are still getting some feedback that they can see. So, you’d get some feedback about the strengths of the tutors.” Therefore, similar to the tutor and tutee responses in the surveys (refer to Appendices D and E, respectively), Dr. Maria believes that a written review system would be more effective and safer than a star rating system. In short, a star rating system could create competition between tutors and build an uncomfortable environment for the tutees, completely shifting the dynamic of the WC.

Implications and Future Research

After conducting extensive research on the effects of a star rating system on tutors, tutees, and the WC as a whole, it is my conclusion that implementing a star rating system at the AUS WC is not advisable. Although it could serve as a motivation for tutors to perform better, it could also have negative effects on their mental health. The pressure to maintain a high rating could become an addiction, pushing them to their limits, and leading to burnout. Additionally, competition among tutors to receive the highest rating could create an unhealthy work environment. On the other hand, a star rating system could benefit tutees, making it easier for them to select a tutor. However, students fear negatively affecting tutors' mental health by rating them, creating tension between the two parties, and making the tutoring sessions unsuccessful.

Therefore, it is essential to find alternative solutions that take into consideration both the benefits and drawbacks of a star rating system. Based on the survey results, a moderated written review system could be a more effective option. It would provide more detailed feedback, while not focusing solely on a rating. Moreover, any excessively critical remarks can be removed and addressed privately between the WC coordinator and the tutor in question. This approach helps to prevent any undue stress or negative impact on the tutor's mental wellbeing. Therefore, a written review system should be studied and considered as an alternative to the star rating system in the future. Additionally, the AUS WC should consider implementing a tutor of the week program on their Instagram page, which is based on agreed-upon factors between the WC staff to help students in the tutor selection process. This program would recognize and celebrate tutors who perform well, while not creating unnecessary competition among tutors.

In summary, the implementation of a star rating system at AUS WC could have severe negative effects on the mental health of tutors and potentially create an uneasy and uncomfortable environment. Therefore, it is vital to consider better alternatives such as a moderated written review system and a tutor-of-the-week program. These options will ensure that students have access to quality tutoring services while maintaining a healthy work environment for tutors.

Limitations and Conclusion

This research study has several limitations that must be taken into consideration. First, the small sample size of 18 tutors out of 33 tutors and 28 students out of thousands of AUS students may not provide a comprehensive understanding of the perceptions of tutors and tutees regarding the implementation of a star rating system. Additionally, the survey mainly included closed-ended questions, which may have overlooked various incentives and motivations that shape the opinions of students and tutors. Furthermore, the study did not involve any interviews with students or tutors to gain a more in-depth understanding of their perspectives. Moreover, the research had only one faculty interview, which may not accurately represent the views of professors regarding the matter. To obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the perceptions of students, tutors, and faculty members regarding the implementation of a star rating system at AUS, future studies must consider expanding the sample size and conducting interviews with a larger pool of participants. Additionally, it is important to gather a greater number of survey responses to ensure that the data collected is more accurate and representative. Thus, while the results of this study offer a preliminary understanding of the views of students, tutors, and professors, further research is necessary to provide a more in-depth understanding of the topic.

In conclusion, the implementation of a star rating system at AUS would have both positive and negative effects. The research conducted suggests that such a system could improve tutor motivation and make it easier for students to select a tutor. However, the potential negative impact on tutors' mental health cannot be ignored, as the system could soon become an addiction to tutors and lead to increased competition, creating a toxic environment for tutors. Additionally, students would be concerned about the well-being of their peer tutors, while the tutors would be fearful of their tutees’ ratings. Therefore, the relationship between tutors and tutees could become awkward. Such changes to the tutor-tutor and tutor-tutee relationships could cause a great shift in the dynamic of the writing center. It is crucial to provide students with better ways to pick a tutor without hurting the tutors, as they play a significant role in shaping the academic writing experience of AUS students. Further research is necessary to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of alternative solutions such as a moderated written review system or a tutor-of-the-week-program, to improve the quality of tutoring services while maintaining the well-being of tutors and students alike.

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Appendix A

Research Protocol:

To conduct the research, two surveys were developed and administered to students at AUS. One survey was specifically designed for AUS WC tutors, while the other was intended for non-tutor AUS students. These surveys were distributed via a Google Form link shared on WhatsApp groups with AUS students. Once the survey results were received and analyzed, an interview was conducted with Dr. Maria Eleftheriou, the AUS WC Coordinator, to gain further insight and feedback. The interview consisted of both scripted and non-scripted questions. The unfilled surveys, as well as the survey responses, are provided in Appendices B, C, D, and E, respectively.

Appendix B

Tutor Survey Questionnaire



Appendix C

Tutee Survey Questionnaire




Appendix D

Tutor Survey Responses

Figure D1:


Figure D2:

Figure D3:

Figure D4:





Please elaborate on your choices for the last 3 questions

  • i disagree with introducing a sense of competition between tutors. further, students are not always reliable reviewers and a few bad reviews could really hurt a tutor’s self-confidence and perception by colleagues

  • Rating tutors on a scale from 1-5 without any reviews seems like a tool that tutees could abuse. Sometimes tutees come into the session with certain expectations that tutor’s can’t live up to (such as writing their paper for them). When these expectations aren’t met, tutees could leave a bad review even though the tutor did everything he/she could do professionally. I think a better system would be to have a questionnaire about the session and if it met the tutees expectations or a satisfaction scale instead of rating the tutor.

  • -

  • I wouldn't really feel comfortable feeling like I'm being "rated" and I think my performance would become less natural.

  • No:

    • tutees aren't equipped to give reliable ratings. E.g., they may be upset cause we didn't help them enhance their grade but that's not our purpose.

    • Ratings work best when there is a disconnect between a service provider and recipient. Tutor and tutees don't have that disconnect. Tutees would give (sub conscious) biased ratings esp if they friends or the tutee has heard of the tutor before

    • It will become a self reinforcing prophecy. Bad initial reviews will destroy a tutor's future appmts

    • it will make tutors compete with each other and we don't want that kind of environment

    • Ratings serve the purpose of quality assurance. WC tutors already go through a process of training and filtering. Rating system is not needed.

  • I'm not sure if rating the tutors will create pressure on the highly rated tutors

  • I don't think it would matter much because people's experiences are different but it would heavily impact people's choice and create discrimination

  • Sounds dehumanising. People can overrate a tutor just because of a small part of the session or randomly choose a rating

  • I see the value of a star rating system when the “employee” pool is large and more variables are unpredictable. But in our case, tutees know that tutors are limited and they could easily opt for a different tutor for their next session. All this system would do is it might create a environment of animosity and unhealthy competition between tutors.

  • .

  • Experiences vary for every tutee. An approach that may work for one tutee may be invaluable for another. It’s all very subjective and putting a rating on subjective experiences seems like a terrible idea.

  • There are benefits to a star rating system. Tutees want to make sure they're booking a session with a tutor who is actually able to help them, as to not waste their time. however, I think implementing an honest star rating system in the university WC will be difficult. University students may let petty things affect the rating they give tutors. For example, not being able to go through an entire essay in 30 minutes isn't a fault of the tutor, but it can lead to them scoring a lower rating. There are many factors that we cannot control for in such cases. Also situations such as tutors not editing papers to the tutees demands may cause them to give a lower rating

  • A star rating system may not be an accurate representation of the tutor’s qualities because every tutor is good at something different. There are so many features of a tutor to consider that I feel it would be hard to encapsulate all the characteristics into one number. Having the number publicly displayed can be demoralizing for the tutor if the rating is low, especially unfairly low. Regardless of the star system, I believe there should be an option to leave a review at the WC.

  • I think that it might be quite misleading for our tutees when they see a star rating system because not all tutors are the same, they have different personalities, different timings, different majors, and have taken different courses. Having a star rating system reflecting the “efficiency” and “popularity” of a tutor would be quite misleading if newly admitted tutors have no rating/low rating as they begin their sessions, and they might get discouraged as well because they wouldn’t be getting booked. Similarly, the star rating system could create pressure on the tutors that they have to fulfill certain expectations, especially if tutees come to them with the attitude “you’re the best here, you should know this.” In the end, the system might also cause competition between our staff and cloud the bright and cheery atmosphere of our WC.

  • I believe ot may create unnecessary gateways for titles with wrong expectations of the WC to vent their anger. However, anonymizing and generalizing to the WC as a whole may be more beneficial.

  • I feel the rating system is pointless. It would have to be heavily moderated, being a university mechanism, and that moderation itself means only the clean, positive comments would be put through largely, although some negative may come out as well. These positive comments may serve as motivation to the tutors, but they probably wouldnt really help other tutees with selecting a tutor, as largely all reviews may end up positive, because of the moderation. On top of that, some AUS students can be mean and pretty rude, and talk about things unrelated to our actual tutoring ability. With tutors, especially new tutors and those who are not very social, or comfortable with having everyone offer their opinion, I think it'd be unnecessary pressure. Also the same tutor doing the same thing can seem amazing to one student and horrible to the other, I've had people hate professors and tell me not to take them but I've had some of my best courses with those supposedly bad professors.

  • There aren’t really THAT many tutors for this system to really make a difference in helping future tutees. Also, a big concern is utility. Star systems are quality assurance but we already go through that with WRI 221 and Professors selection process. It's redundant. It sounds fun and contemporary because gamification and competitiveness, but is that necessary? There are also other concerns like bias in ratings because tutor and tutees don't share the disconnect that star systems in like Uber share. Also, what concerns tutees more than how good a tutor is is the availability and time clashes which is far from how good a tutor is. It'll also create self-fulfilling prophecies for someone who might pick a low rated tutor because of schedule conflicts with other ones. They'll have a relatively poor experience simply because they walk in with that anxiety.

  • I feel like a rating+review system, no matter how moderated it is, would be incredibly one-sided. It is as effective as the unofficial AUS Banner group on Facebook for professor/course reviews. Each student has a different experience with the tutor depending on the expectations of the tutee, nature of the assignment, time of the semester, etc. If the aim is quality control, the post-session survey already reviews students' experience with the tutor. I feel like a public star rating system would overload the high rated tutors. There could also be fake reviews written by tutors' friends. I guess that's possible in post-session surveys as well but my point stands. So far I don't see any benefits in implementing the star system other than helping tutees make a faster choice in tutors.

Figure C5:


How do you think the star system will affect your performance?

  • na

  • I don’t think it will affect my performance as much as it will keep me preoccupied or paranoid during my sessions.

  • -

  • It might just make me more nervous knowing that a tutee might go away and post their thoughts publicly about me in that way

  • Not sure but it might add stress and people pleasing tendencies.

  • It might make the tutors self conscious or less qualified especially new tutors.

  • Same performance

  • I'm a competitive person so probably will make me under pressure

  • I don’t think it would change anything, because i (and all the tutors) really take our work seriously. Personally, the money that we receive is not incentive for working in the WC. Rather, its the experience of helping tutees and allowing them to reach them their potential - its a gratifying feeling to me and its very fulfilling to me.

  • Maybe it will help me choose better writing instructors

  • I feel like it could push me to my limits, at the expense of my mental well-being however.

  • I don't think it'll affect my performance per say, but I think it'll affect the way the tutee views the session and my performance. In this situation, if a tutee has a session with a low rated tutor, a sort of confirmation/ implicit bias can occur where the tutee views the performance of the tutor as less than. Also, receiving a low star rating may also affect my/ other tutor's eagerness and motivation to continue working at the WC.

  • Personally, it would be boost my performance and get me to work harder to keep my number up, but not everyone will have the same response. Overall, I think the star rating system may have a negative psychological impact on me as well as the WC community which will bring team morale down.

  • I think it could, for the reasons mentioned above. Especially feeling pressured or overwhelmed by tutees’ expectations.

  • I don't think it'll impact my tutoring

  • I think it creates a sense of apprehension about how the tutee views the tutor, and may lead the tutor to be more nervous about whether or not they're doing the right thing in the session. On the other hand, it may also create pressure for highly rated tutors to constantly set the bar higher and do exceptionally well consistently, and may lead them to worry if they're worthy of these good comments.

  • It wont have a negative effect. It'll make me want to improve myself and address ways in which I can be a better tutor. But the point is, everyone has different teaching and learning styles. In that sense especially, I feel the rating system is pointless. A tutor doing one thing with a tutee may seem amazing to that tutee but not very helpful to another. Its the same with professors. Some students have very good experiences with a professor while some have the complete opposite. Its very subjective. Having said that, yes, we do try and be more wholesome about how we can help the tutees instead of just sticking to or having our own way of teaching or helping them. I'd say that we tutors are really adept at adapting very, very quickly to our tutees and their needs because we deal with them on a one-to-one basis and not as a class. So rather than having a fixed approach to teaching or following one method that might generally work with the majority of the class, we really tailor the sessions to make sure our tutees get what they need while also making sure we dont do it for them, but rather help them do it. Being able to switch gears every 30 mins or an hour for and according to each tutee (since the sessions are either this or that), I think what we do really speaks for itself.

  • Implementing a star rating system would make me seriously doubt my own skills. I would be much more conscious about whether my suggestions are effective. Though that is a good thing, it would make tutoring more like a job than a mutual discussion. If I become so focused on how I am being judged, I feel like I won't be as personal with the tutee. I might be too nervous and end up treating the tutee like a judge than a peer.The WC seeks to make better writers, not improve papers. But tutees often just want a better paper. If I know that I am being judged for a potential public review, I feel like I would be more inclined towards satisfying the tutee's demands than improving their skills as a writer.

Appendix E

Tutee Survey Responses

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Please elaborate on your choices for the last 3 questions

  • The star rating will help the students to identify if the tutor is good and will help in the process of choosing the process

  • I would prefer to not see a star rating on my tutors, as it would seem discriminating the tutors based on their rating. Rather I would like to see reviews on the tutor and choose accordingly.

  • I personally believe that giving tutors a star rating is unfair. Because it won't be a good indication of how good the tutor actually is. Some tutees might rate the tutor low due to the fact that they did not meet up to their expectations. Even when their expectations involves the tutors "fixing" the paper for then without taking the responsibility of their own learning.

  • Furthermore I feel like having a rating system for tutors can be a bit demotivating or even a bit insulting. Imaging bieng a tutor and having a low rating even though you try your best every session.

  • A 5 star rating might not actually be accurate. On what basis are people rating tutors out of 5? But I do think a written review next to it would make more sense

  • implementing star system and reviews can help ensure the quality of the feedback students receive and encourages tutors to put in the effort to help, but it can also be demotivating since tutors are not professional and might not live up to the students expectations as these are based on professors not other students

  • It would make the process of choosing a tutor easier and it would also serve as an incentive for tutors to work harder. Writing a review would also be a great idea to implement, as a number might not be sufficient for some.

  • I think a star rating system might not be a big enough of a scale to help students decide the tutor. But if the scale was bigger or if there are comments and reviews then that would help the students pick the right tutor for them.

  • I like the star feedback system as long as it’s private. It can be very easy to weaponise this system such that a tutee and their group of friends can target a certain tutor. Moreover we already live in an age of defining our self worth to a number… so this probably will not make it better, ESPECIALLY, if it’s public. I think it will negatively affect people’s mental health. If it was private, it would be much better, and would put me on the fence (neutral instead of disagree). And I don’t see anything bad with adding an option to add a review, but it would still be on the same level as the 2nd question (neutral instead of disagree)

  • I think it would help to know the quality of review that the tutor would provide.

  • It would be great if we could get an insight into how a tutor helps their students, that way, we could choose tutors based on the way we want to be assisted.

  • While i do think a rating system would be really good (coming from a students perspective), idk how beneficial it woulf be for a tutor. A rating system can be highly susceptible to bias (as many people already have a bias towards going to people recommend to them; hence, those people would probably get high scores). It could also turn into a competition rather than a system of honest opinions. However, if used correctly by students and tutors, then it might help

  • I feel like by implementing a rating system, we'd be treating tutors as mere workers that provide simple services. Rather, if there is a problem, a tutee can write a review about their experiences (which would only be available to staff). However, I would understand that this would work extremely well only in circumstances where the staff are responsible with these reviews and take accountability seriously.

  • I believe written reviews are more descriptive than star-rating systems. It may not be easy to quantify a highly transactional experience at the WC, combined with a range of emotions and subjective perceptions.

  • The star rating system can make the choosing process easier and help motivate the tutors to do better because tutors with less stars might be let go due to the less sessions people may book with them

  • I just feel bad because I wouldn’t want tutors to be judged so quickly😭. I dunno, Eventhough it would be beneficial and make the choosing process easier, I feel like it would be stressful to Tutors

  • I love the star rating system. I strongly agree that implementing a star rating will encourage tutors to do their best all the time and reward good tutors. However, an incentive for the tutors should be added to make sure it counteracts the negative feeling of judgment.

  • I wouldn’t want to hurt a fellow student due to a bad rating, but, if there were many bad ratings from several students, it means that there needs to be some changes to the tutor or their style.

  • While a star rating system implementation would indeed help give students a better perspective of who they'll be tutored by, I deem it relatively unnecessary due to the already in-place vetting system for which prospective tutors would have to go through before being able to start tutoring. For the most part, I'm under the impression that most if not all WC tutors are competent enough to guide me through my writing process, but a more nuanced implementation that would personally fit me would be a way to give the student a preview of a particular tutor's writing style. Maybe a short summary provided by the tutor themselves along with a snippet of their writing in tandem with student reviews would help me select a tutor more suited to my style of writing.

  • While I agree that keeping the star option is great, some people might misuse this facility. This is apparent in the course evaluations that Dr. Maria was discussing in class. So that is the only drawback. There will be constant anxiety for the tutor to perform better which might bring down the value of the session. I can understand the necessity of a five-star system still it devalues the efforts that tutors have put in throughout the semesters.

Appendix F

Interview Questions

  1. Can you share your initial thoughts and impressions about the idea of implementing a star rating system in the writing center?

  2. Have you ever heard of a similar rating system in other writing centers?

  3. Have you considered any drawbacks for the star rating system?

  4. How would the star rating system affect the relationship between tutors and students?

  5. Do you think that the feedback and data generated by the star rating system will help you make informed decisions about the tutors?

  6. Do you think that a written review option would be better than a star rating system?

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