International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Catering to Customers or Cultivating Communicators? Divergent Educational Roles of Communication Centers     
Roy Schwartzman, Erin D. Ellis

Abstract
To remain sustainable in an atmosphere of shrinking budgets and curricular retrenchment, oral communication instruction via communication centers on college and university campuses must satisfy several constituencies. How can communication centers meet stakeholder interests driven by different paradigms of higher education? This study examines how student clients (n = 29) and peer consultants/tutors (n = 11) characterize their educational experiences at communication centers in responses to open-ended surveys. Thematic analysis using grounded theory reveals two divergent perceptual frameworks: a transactional paradigm geared to pleasing consumers and a transformational paradigm oriented to persona development and self-sufficiency. Reconciliation of these potentially conflicting perspectives may enable communication centers to meld effective instruction with efficient service.

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