Internationalization, Massifcation, and the Knowledge Economy: A Comparison of International Writing Center Trends

Tomoyo Okuda graduated with a Ph.D. in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her research interests include second language writing, writing center studies, internationalization of higher education, and language policy.

 

Christiane Donahue (2009) once praised the writing center community as having the “strongest development in terms of exchange of teaching practice and pedagogical framing, always explored in context” (p. 222). This is evident from the fact that we can find writing centers in 63 countries, according to the St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Directory.

I was always interested in why writing centers became so popular around the world and started collecting literature written about writing centers in different countries (as a side note, I focused on writing center development in Japan for my dissertation research, “The Writing Center as a Global Pedagogy: A Case Study of a Japanese University Seeking Internationalization”). A common topic found in international writing center literature was how the idea of the writing center needed adjustments to suit the cultural, religion, existing literacy practices of each country or institution. But I was more interested in the bigger picture—the socio-political/economic imperatives of writing center initiation, namely, the political landscape of higher education discourses and reforms fed into the decision to initiate or sustain a writing center (Salem, 2014). In this blog post, I would like to discuss three imperatives identified from my reading of international writing center literature (book chapters, articles, reports, websites).

Internationalization has become a powerful agenda for many universities around the world, and for non-English speaking countries, this means internationalizing higher education through the medium of English. Thus, we can see English-medium instruction programs (courses and programs taught in English) in what Harbord (2010) calls US-style universities: universities with “US accreditation, US charter, US-style curriculum, US grading system, a liberal arts approach, and some faculty from the US” (para. 9). Examples of US-style universities would be liberal arts colleges in Hungary, India, and Japan, and American branch universities such as in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, Bulgaria, where the writing center is usually managed in conjunction with first year composition courses. Another internationalization initiative for universities is scholarly publications in English and for this purpose, some writing centers in East Asia offer services to help scholars write research manuscripts in English. For instance, according to Kim (2017), the government-supported globalization initiative called ‘Brain Korea 21’, which aims to foster international scholars, led to a wave of new writing centers in South Korean universities.

The second imperative is the demands of the knowledge economy, often addressed in higher education reform plans. For example, the Bologna Process, a collective initiative to harmonize European higher education and ensure comparability of standards, appears to have been key in the promotion of writing centers. Several German writing center scholars mention that writing centers caught attention as an efficient approach to develop writing skills, promote peer learning, and individualized instruction which aligns well with the learning outcome model promoted by the Bologna Process (Bräuer, 2012; Macgilchrist & Girgensohn, 2011; Scott, 2016). Weber et al., (2014) from Qatar also talk about how the writing center at their American branch campus was established due to the nation’s shift from oil gas revenue to knowledge economy emphasizing education, research, biotechnology.

The third imperative is massifcation of higher education; in other words, higher education expansion or growth of enrollment in higher education. Universities, such as in Japan and New Zealand, are actively expanding student participation and admitting a diverse range of students, in some cases, students with insufficient academic literacy skills, which leads to a need for institutionalized writing support (Emerson, 2012; Iwamoto, 2008). Different reasons would explain higher education expansion. In Japan, the number of writing centers and writing programs increased due to an influx of incoming students without basic Japanese literacy skills said to have caused by the post-war massification of universities and universalization of higher education.

I have reviewed some of the socio-economic imperatives connected to writing center initiation around the world; internationalizing higher education (through English), responding to the demands of knowledge economy, and expanding student participation in higher education. These imperatives are connected to a growing interest in writing skills, especially English writing skills, as means to participate in the knowledge economy and global research community.

Most importantly, in searching for the bigger picture, I came to understand the powerful role of the writing center in internationalizing and Americanizing universities worldwide. How does this bigger picture impact our interactions with international writing center colleagues and define our international writing center community? I believe an analytical look at what’s happening outside our writing centers is important in reflecting on power balances in our international writing center community and realizing the “equal trade models of exchange” (Donahue, 2009, p. 231) of writing center scholarship.

 

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Bibliography

Bräuer, G. (2012). Section essay: Academic literacy development. In Writing programs worldwide: Profiles of academic writing in many places (pp. 467-484). Fort Collins, CO: The WAC Clearinghouse.

Donahue, C. (2009). “Internationalization” and composition studies: Reorienting the discourse. College Composition and Communication, 61(2), 212-243.

Emerson, L. (2012). Developing a “Kiwi” writing centre at Massey University, New Zealand. In C. Thaiss, P. Carlino, L. Ganobcsik-Williams, & A. Sinha (Eds.), Writing programs worldwide: Profiles of academic writing in many places (pp. 313-323). Fort Collins, CO: The WAC Clearinghouse.

Harbord, J. (2010). Writing in Central and Eastern Europe: Stakeholders and directions in initiating change. Across the Disciplines, 7. Retrieved from http://wac.colostate.edu/atd/articles/harbord2010.cfm

Iwamoto, T. (2008). Senpai kara Kohai e, shinshi na adobaisu ga ikiru gakushūshien [To seniors to juniors: Academic support through advising]. Daigaku to Gakusei, 50, 30–35.

Kim, M. (2012). The politics of teaching and learning writing in L1 and L2 in Korean universities: An exploration of the possibility of developing an indigenous writing program. (Unpublished PhD Dissertation). Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Macgilchrist, F., & Girgensohn, K. (2011). Humboldt meets Bologna: Developments and debates in institutional writing support in Germany. Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing, 23(1), 1-19.

Salem, L. (2014). Opportunity and transformation: How writing centers are positioned in the political landscape of higher education in the United States. Writing Center Journal, 34(1), 15-43.

Scott, A. (2016). Re-centering writing center studies: What US-based scholars can learn from their colleagues in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Zeitschrift Schreiben, Retrieved from https://zeitschrift-schreiben.eu/globalassets/zeitschrift-schreiben.eu/2016/scott_writingcenterstudies.pdf

Weber, A., Golkowska, K., Miller, I., Sharkey, R., Rishel, M., & Watts, A. (2015). The first-year writing seminar program at Weill Cornell Medical College—Qatar: Balancing tradition, culture, and innovation in transnational writing instruction. In D. S. Martins (Ed.), Transnational writing program administration (pp. 73-92). Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.

Toward an Anti-Racist, Translingual Writing Center

Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski is the Co-Curricular Programs Coordinator for Writing and Languages at Penn State University, University Park Campus. Her research interests span affective neuroscience, trauma studies, queer theory, and writing studies—really, she loves the intersections of critical theory and embodiment. Karen’s particularly interested in how Writing Centers can work to engage/combat/heal the lives writers live before, during, and after their writing process: can we heal trauma through writing? She’s an Associate Editor for WAC Clearinghouse, serves on Executive Board for the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association, and was recently appointed to co-lead the first-ever International Writing Center Association Digital Content Team. Residing in Pine Grove Mills, PA, with her wife and their badly-behaved cats (Tag and Samoa), Karen loves riding her bike and singing out of tune.

 

Before I Begin…
I’d like to own that much of this post is a narration of a person journey wherein my experience is what’s being centered—though the issues challenging me throughout the post are areas of scholarship (and, yes, life) that can and should be centered in their own right whenever possible. I am conscious that this blog post may feel like “Here’s a white person explaining their whiteness, and how they’re challenging themselves to change”—and maybe it is that, in a way—but my pedagogical and intentional reason for crafting my post this way is to show an evolution of thought, self-reflection, and to model the type of calling out that more white academics and administrators need to do with ourselves and with one another.

I’m writing with full acknowledgement that my whiteness, my privilege, and my context have shaped how I interpret, express, and address the information I’m sharing—and that it’s scholars of color, not white allies or accomplices, who have done the most powerful and productive work on pushing the fields of rhetoric, composition, and writing center studies towards anti-racism and equity. (And I’ve included endnote references throughout to share moments of connection with my musings here today and the scholarship that informs them, as a blog post isn’t perhaps the best genre to go full-on, MLA8 in-text on ya’ll.)

Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski

I’m grateful to scholars like Vershawn Ashante Young,[i] Suresh Canagarajah,[ii] Asao Inoue,[iii] Aja Martinez,[iv] bell hooks,[v] and others who have given again and again the opportunity for white academics to learn from their work and to then act upon that learning. I write that sentence while wishing that the academy did not require scholars of color to write about and defend the dignity of their identities so that we could use their scholarship as teaching tools. That said, again, I want to express gratitude that it is work many scholars of color have done and continue doing as that work has challenged and engaged an entire field of study.

I am a work in progress; the writing center where I hang my hat is a work in progress; we hope to keep learning more and doing better, and we wish we were faster at that process.

Let’s Get To It, Then.
I’ve been thinking a lot about translingualism and writing centers. I’ve been wondering what I mean (or should mean) when I say translingual, and I’ve been wondering how the answers to this question shape how I write about it, how I ask my tutors to engage with it, and how our writing center can explain its investment in translingual pedagogy to the university community. I’m wondering, too, how my context as a white academic person shapes these questions and their answers. At Penn State, we’ve been working on a grant proposal to create a Scholar in Residence for Translingual Learning and Tutoring, seeking to unite our language and writing tutoring programs to more effectively serve translingual writers—and over time, our writing center administration’s definition of translingualism has shifted from solely focusing on global languages and global Englishes to a wider, more equitable lens that embraces domestic Englishes, too. Continue reading “Toward an Anti-Racist, Translingual Writing Center”

Transnational Collaborations and Writing Center Development at an English-Medium University in Lebanon

Anna S. Habib has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction (2006) and is near completing her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric from George Mason University. She served in several positions in the Mason Writing Center, from graduate tutor to Acting Director. Currently, she is the Associate Director of Composition, managing the undergraduate composition courses for multilingual students at both the George Mason University home campus and at the branch campus in Songdo, South Korea. She also coordinates and teaches the Graduate Writing across the Disciplines courses for INTO Mason, Mason’s pathway program for graduate and undergraduate international students.

WLN blog: Can you share some of your story?
Habib: I was born in Beirut during the civil war[1] to an American mother and a Lebanese father. At the age of four, when the war began to escalate, my parents, sister, and I fled the country on a small boat with other refugees who had found an illegal way out of the country. We made our way to the island of Cyprus where I grew up in a community of immigrant/refugees from Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, and the former Soviet Union. My father’s family opened a branch of their Lebanese school in Cyprus for this community of displaced students. The school followed the French Lycée curriculum, meaning all subjects were taught in French (a consequence of Lebanon’s post-colonial history), but the curriculum also included Arabic literature and language and English and Greek as required courses. When I turned 15, my family emigrated to the US to live with my mother’s parents. The shift from a tiny Mediterranean island surrounded by my native languages and my community of friends to a North Jersey high school in a wealthy community was extremely jarring.

I managed to find my way through high school, and then moved to Virginia to attend George Mason University as an undergraduate student. The campus felt a lot more comfortable than my high school environment—I was surrounded by other students from the Middle East and North African region and began to form friendships again with peers who also spoke Arabic as their first language or who had had similar international experiences.

View from University of Balamand

WLN blog: What was the role of writing centers in your academic experience in the US?
Habib:
I didn’t encounter the concept of a writing center until my undergraduate studies at Mason. In the Lebanese school/French lycée system, writing was not taught as a process. Students were often required to write decontextualized essays in class or at home that demonstrated their mastery of literary/philosophical concepts without any feedback or conversations on drafts. During my undergraduate studies at Mason, I visited the writing center once, but couldn’t appreciate the possibilities of the peer-feedback approach yet. It wasn’t until I was hired as a graduate research assistant for Terry Myers Zawacki and Chris Thaiss’ book, Engaged Writers, Dynamic Disciplines (2006), that I learned about the work of writing centers. I sat in the back hallway of the writing center and transcribed dozens of Terry’s and Chris’ interviews with faculty across the curriculum describing their own experiences as writers, and how those experiences informed their writing pedagogy. As I typed and typed for hours, I watched students and tutors interact in thoughtful conversations about writing projects. Through listening to faculty perspectives and observing tutors and students in action, I began to understand pretty clearly that the role of writing in the US academy was significantly different than its role in non-US academic contexts like the one I grew up in. Continue reading “Transnational Collaborations and Writing Center Development at an English-Medium University in Lebanon”

Working Towards the Trifecta: A WLN Special Issue on Wellness and Self-Care

Genie Giaimo, Ph.D., is the current Director of The Ohio State University Writing Center. Before her arrival to OSU, she was Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Centers at Bristol Community College. Her research applies RAD-based methodologies to large-scale and often systemic issues within writing center administration, such as perceptions of the writing center in open access institutions, or the impact of ordinary and extraordinary stress on writing center workers. She has published articles in peer reviewed journals such as Language and Literature, Literature and Medicine, European Journal of Life Writing and Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. She is also the special editor of the WLN issue on Wellness and Self-Care. In the time that she doesn’t manage a staff of 52+ graduate and undergraduate consultants, she practices yoga and volunteers at Colony Cats—a volunteer-run organization dedicated to trap and release, as well as the treatment and adoption of stray and surrendered cats, in Columbus, OH. 

WLN blog: Why is this an important issue?
Giaimo: Writing Centers are not just spaces where writing occurs, or where education occurs; they are also spaces where emotionally charged exchanges happen and where burnout can occur among workers.

WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship

WLN blog: Who are the writing centre people writing on wellness and self-care?
Giaimo: Right now there are very few published pieces on this very broad topic. Degner, Wojciehowski, and Giroux’s piece “Opening Closed Doors: A Rationale For Creating a Safe Space for Tutors Struggling with Mental Health Concerns or Illness” (Praxis 2015) is perhaps one of the most cited; however, Mack and Hupp’s recent article (2017) on mindfulness in a community college writing center—also published in Praxis—is another that is unique in its own right. In the larger field of composition, Paula Mathieu studies writing activism and mindfulness and contemplative practice to bring about social justice. Research on the emotional aspects of tutoring and writing center labor have also been studied. There’s a great MA thesis by Christina Rowell on this topic, as well as Alison Perry’s “Training for Triggers: Helping Writing Center Consultants Navigate Emotional Sessions.” So, while it is an emergent field, in writing centers studies, there are certainly a lot of folks interested in the topic and conducting research on it. Also, the 2018 East Central Writing Center Association’s conference—hosted by The Ohio State University—focused on wellness, self-care and labor in writing center work.

WLN blog: Do you see an increased need self-care and wellness in students?
Giaimo: It’s hard to say, I think, anecdotally, that the recent Presidential election and the attendant uncertainty surrounding DACA, and other policies set in-place to protect vulnerable populations among us (such as persons of color, LGBTQ+, graduate students, among many many others) certainly has had an effect on the experiences and emotions of a number of students on campus. However, statistically speaking, Degner et al.’s piece noted the increase of mental health concerns, self-diagnosed or professionally diagnosed, among student populations entering college. So, yes, I think self-care and wellness is something that a number of universities are interested in fostering for their students and that student populations (as well as those outside universities) could benefit from being supported in this work. Continue reading “Working Towards the Trifecta: A WLN Special Issue on Wellness and Self-Care”

CfP || WLN Special Issue: Wellness and Self-Care in Writing Center Work, with Dr. Genie N. Giaimo

Read Dr. Giaimo’s post on this special issue.

WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship

In coordination with the 2018 ECWCA conference theme on occupational hazards: writing center labor, self-care and reflection, we welcome submissions that explore the multi-faceted ways in which writing center labor demands, deserves and enacts wellness and self-care practices. To date, research on tutor well-being—a perennial concern for writing center administrators—is relatively under-explored in writing center scholarship. While mindfulness in the writing center has been the topic of a number of presentations at regional and national writing center conferences (and a popular discussion thread on a recent Wcenter listserv email), there is relatively little published material on this topic (Mack and Hupp; Dueck). Similarly, Degner et al.’s 2015 article “Opening Closed Doors: A Rationale For Creating a Safe Space for Tutors Struggling with Mental Health Concerns or Illness” calls for more explicit training on self-care and tutor mental health after uncovering that 65% of survey respondents identified the lack of discussion on these subjects in their writing centers’ trainings.

Wellness and self-care, then, while popular topics both in writing center academic conversations, as well as in popular culture, are poised to become a mainstay of tutor preparation and training. Similarly, this topic is becoming monetized through for-pay productivity workshops and trainings. What, then, does the academic writing center community have to say on these subjects? How do we currently integrate wellness and self-care into our practices? How might we want to incorporate these practices into our centers? And what does our desire to do so say about the labor that we preform? We encourage contributors to consider, as starting points, current and local iterations of wellness and self-care trainings in writing centers, as well as potential best practices for developing these kinds of programming for our tutors, our administrators, and our clients. Continue reading “CfP || WLN Special Issue: Wellness and Self-Care in Writing Center Work, with Dr. Genie N. Giaimo”

A Year and a Half Later: A Humble Reflection || St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Administration Certificate Program

This post is a followup from Carol’s piece, Two Provosts Later: Establishing a Writing Center Administration Graduate Certificate Program, from February 2017, with reflections on the program from students. Carol Mohrbacher is a Professor of English and former Writing Center Director.

 

Carol Mohrbacher

In spring 2017, St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Administration certificate program offered its first two courses, “Writing Center Theory and Practice” and “Issues in Writing Center Administration.” Students became bonded early on. Friendships and collaborations for research projects and conference presentations grew during that semester and continued into summer term with the final two classes, “Staffing and Training” and “Case Studies in Writing Center Administration.” Because the program is delivered entirely online, I was surprised at the strength of the community, which was much more than I’d hoped for during the 2 ½ years it took me to slog through the morass of bureaucratic speed bumps on the way to program approval. As I said in the earlier article/interview, I’d had to secure approvals from 14 different individuals and committees along the way. This was an intense, real-world lesson in discovering audience expectations, a topic we discuss throughout the WCA program in all of the courses.

The most significant challenge in designing the WCA program has been providing sources, instruction, and assignments that allow students to personalize a learning experience most beneficial to each one of them. Last year’s students represented a range of experience from zero to nine years in WC administration. Some were new MA students; some were PhD students; some were professionals in the field. They represented public and private institutions at the high school, 2-year, and 4-year college levels. One student had developed an independent writing center and had tax-exempt status and a board of directors in place. One, a high school teacher, had never worked in a writing center before and knew just a little about them, but hoped to help build one at her school. This year, there are more graduate students and fewer professionals; however, we have, for the first time, an administrator from a private high school boys’ preparatory school and also an assistant director from a writing center in China. Caswell, McKinney, and Jackson note the development and variety of non-standard writing centers in their book, The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors, a longitudinal study of nine new writing center directors.

That our participants include writing center directors in a charter school and in a European boarding school is emblematic of the times. Writing centers have been sprouting up in secondary schools and in non-US settings at a growing rate. As this happens, we think we’ll see that more alternatives to the US university model will emerge as different though effective, ways to do writing center work. (199)       

To reflect this diversity in the WCA certificate program, course materials cover a variety of common contexts and issues pertaining to writing center administration, like navigating institutional relationships, researching the writing center, creating assessment activities and reports, grant writing, hiring, training, and other shorter units. Assignments are flexible enough so students can create individualized documents that might be included in an application portfolio or provide a model for their home institution or for the type of writing center setting they are most interested in.

Now that I am in my 2nd year, I view at the program with a perspective emerging out of a year and a half’s experience. I’ve learned that cohorts differ from year to year. The first year’s class was energetic and immediately collaborative; this year’s cohort is quieter and less bonded than the first—but they are similar in their creative energy and commitment to writing center administration studies. Continue reading “A Year and a Half Later: A Humble Reflection || St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Administration Certificate Program”

“Did I Cross that Line Yet?”: Moonlighting Outside the Writing Center

Vanessa Flora-Nakoski is the Writing Center Director & a Lecturer in English at McDaniel College.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I don’t know what to tell them. Do I say that I’m a professor? A tutor? An administrator? A writer? A scholar? Yes, but everyone in our profession knows that each of these labels is insufficient. These days, I typically answer that I’m the Director of the Writing Center.

Secretly, I remind myself, “I am an entrepreneur.”

Of the possible labels, it is the only one broad enough to connect all the aspects of my professional life, although not one that anyone in any of my graduate programs understood. I learned quickly enough that to reveal to the various fund managers in my Strategic Management classes that I was a tutor—or even at one time, a soapmaker—was to inspire incredulous looks. I learned equally quickly how dangerous it might be to seem too business-minded among my faculty colleagues.

This made me wonder why so few people outside our field readily accept the label of entrepreneur as a descriptor for writing center work. It occurs to me that it may be because so many of us, through institutional mandate or personal preference, who draw a firm line between the work we do as writing center professionals within institutions and the work we may do privately as professional tutors.

Certainly, many colleges and universities have strict policies regarding work performed in the field but outside the institution. Even when these policies are absent, it can still be awkward to discuss private tutoring among professional colleagues. When I was first approached about the possibility of writing about this issue, I had a moment of panic where I thought, “Am I writing this as a member of the college or am I writing this as sole proprietor of my company?”

Both. Continue reading ““Did I Cross that Line Yet?”: Moonlighting Outside the Writing Center”

Seminar || Academic Writing and Innovation, National University of Ireland

National University of Ireland, Galway || 17 April 2017 || Registration

Innovation is seen as a key ingredient for success in academia, but we often taken good academic writing for granted as a crucial skill in this process. We know from the work of Peter Elbow that writing is a creative and imaginative process, irrespective of the subject. Janet Giltrow has argued that ‘style is meaningful’ and impacts the development of ideas. More recently, Helen Sword has drawn attention to ‘stylish academic writing’, arguing that ‘intellectual creativity thrives best in an atmosphere of experimentation rather than conformity’. Yet the precise relationship between academic writing and innovation remains to be explored; to do so means to highlight the crucial importance of writing centres, writing instructors, and pedagogical initiatives to academia at large.

This seminar will examine the connection between academic writing and innovation from a variety of perspectives, including the use of the Project Based Learning (PBL) and other innovative methodologies, the switch from assessing to improving student writing, the role of writing centres in academia, the ideology of writing spaces, and new ways to support librarians on the path towards publication.

Confirmed Speakers
Tom Deans, University of Connecticut
Steven Engel, University of Michigan
Hellen Fallon, Maynooth University
Adrian Frazier, NUI Galway
Megan Jewel, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio
Ann Nowak, Touro Law Center
Laura McLoughlin, NUI Galway

Registration

Boiling Down the Essentials: Transferring Tutoring Skills Beyond the Writing Center

Mike Jacoby is the Tutor and Mentor Coordinator for the Athletics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, Mike worked at the Northern Michigan University Writing Center for many years.

 

When I graduated with my master’s in writing in 2015, I was fortunate to find a position coordinating a tutoring program for student-athletes at the University of Wisconsin. I had just completed my second year of managing a writing center as its associate director, and writing center administration was work I found both fulfilling

Fetzer Center for Student-Athlete Excellence

and challenging. My writing center experiences anchored me, but the move into student-athlete support as a tutor coordinator brought me into unfamiliar waters: I hadn’t worked with student-athletes before, and I didn’t (and still don’t) personally care about sports. In addition to being out of my element in that way, I also waded into another unknown dimension: the realm of multi-subject tutoring.

The Athletics Tutoring Program is funded and housed completely through the UW Athletic Department (we have an Office of Academic Services within the athletic department). We exist apart from campus and from any other department, which has more pros than cons. We’re funded through the (well-off) Athletic Department and thus aren’t pressed for resources in ways we might otherwise be. Our program employs over eighty tutors to support over five hundred student-athletes per semester in plethora of courses (we have usually over eight hundred student-athletes enrolled but not all student-athletes make use of our program). Continue reading “Boiling Down the Essentials: Transferring Tutoring Skills Beyond the Writing Center”

Creating a Writing Center in Salvador-Bahia, Brazil

Fernanda Queirós Campbell is a postdoctoral research assistant in the Health Sciences Institute of the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil; Katia Nunes Sá is an associate professor and coordinator of the Scientific Communication Center at the Bahiana School of Medicine and Public Health, Brazil; Abrahão Fontes Baptista is an associate professor at the Center for Mathematics, Computation, and Cognition at the Federal University of ABC, Brazil; Gigi Taylor is the Senior English Language Specialist in the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At the 2015 IWCA Conference, we presented “Creating a Writing Center in Brazil: Revolutionizing the Unknown” (p. 25) in an ignite session. This blog post summarizes the evolution of the project and the exciting results our effort to establish a writing center in Salvador-Bahia, Brazil.

When Fernanda Queirós was pursuing a PhD in Maternal & Child Health from UNC Chapel Hill, she was an avid user of writing center resources, including individual tutoring, English language support programs, and dissertation boot camp. Throughout her time there, she worked closely with Gigi Taylor, the Writing Center’s Senior English Language Specialist. Upon returning to Brazil in a postdoctoral position, Fernanda realized that many of the students who expected to graduate in three months were behind on writing their theses. When she described her experience at UNC, her lead professor, Abrahão Baptista, asked if she would be willing to develop similar writing support for graduate students at Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA).

Fernanda had plenty of experience as a writing center user but had no training as a teacher of writing. Nonetheless, she accepted the challenge and committed to starting a group in two weeks because she was convinced that even limited support would be better than nothing. Abrahão enlisted Prof. Kátia Sá of the Escola Bahiana de Medicina e Saúde Pública (EBMSP) and the Catholic University of Salvador (UCSal). While Abrahão and Kátia shared a deep interest in writing, neither of them knew anything about writing centers and could offer no specific help.

Unable to find information online about writing centers in Brazil, Fernanda reached out to Gigi at the UNC Writing Center. They had a long skype conversation about things to consider, how to set student expectations, how get them accustomed to writing center pedagogy, and about the wealth of resources available through the IWCA. Continue reading “Creating a Writing Center in Salvador-Bahia, Brazil”

Register Now for the Online IWCA Collaborative || “Stories from the Center: Activism, Outreach, and Research”

On March 12, 2018 from 12:00-8:30 PM CST an exciting lineup of current and future leaders will facilitate interactive sessions on this year’s theme:

“Stories from the Center: Activism, Outreach, and Research”

Register today and join the presenters and other participants from 4 different countries and 20 different states as we embark on the first-ever online event.

Please register by Friday, March 9th, so we can send you log in and set up instructions for joining us in the Adobe Connect meeting space before Monday.

Registration is only $30 and with it you also get exclusive post-event access to the recorded sessions. That means you can watch on demand sessions you missed and attended!

If you have any questions, please email us at IWCACollaborative2018@gmail.com

See you Online in Realtime!

Lauri Dietz & Joseph Cheatle

Register
IWCA Collaborative Agenda
Meet the Speakers

 

“Creating ‘click bait’ and sound bites to incite controversy”: A response to the CHE piece, “What’s Wrong With Writing Centers”

Julia Bleakney is Director of the Writing Center, Elon University.

 

There are many statements in “What’s Wrong with Writing Centers,” an interview with Lori Salem in the Feb 5, 2018 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, that highlight bad practice for writing centers. The interview presents Dr. Salem as a maverick writing center director, unique in the writing center field for using statistical and quantitative research and whose ideas are radical and forward–thinking in a field of status-seeking writing centers using outdated strategies that don’t serve working class or minority students or those for whom English is not a first language. The interview, conducted by Rose Jacobs, suggests that writing centers cater to privileged students who don’t need them, lest centers be considered remedial, and that writing center policies that have consultants focusing on higher-order concerns or using non-directive strategies is time-wasting and ineffective for students who need more direction.

If writing centers adopted this “one size fits all” approach to working one-to-one with the privileged students they supposedly prefer, and if they shunned empirical research methods in favor of lore, we should be alarmed. But the fact is that most of the claims made in this interview are simply not true—not true of the majority of writing centers in the U.S. and certainly not true of the Writing Center at Elon University. Many writing centers, including Elon’s, train their undergraduate student consultants based on current writing education scholarship; at Elon, for instance, the students in ENG319, Writing Center Workshop, prepare to become writing center consultants not by following lore about how to work with students on their writing but by learning about contemporary research in educational scaffolding, transfer of learning in writing instruction, and working with diverse learners. While there are a range of research approaches used by writing centers, for the last ten to fifteen years, as a field we have not shunned statistical or quantitative research and instead use empirical evidence to test and support claims about the value and impact of writing center sessions on students’ writing knowledge and confidence. In more recent years, writing center scholars have begun several large-scale, multi-site, and longitudinal studies on writing centers and their impact on student writers.

The most alarming claims in this interview are the ideas that writing center consulting strategies adopted as policy discriminate against minorities, multilingual learners, or working-class students and that transformative learning is not happening in writing centers. When Dr. Salem spoke with the Chronicle, she assumed she was speaking to a colleague who would respect a field’s need to continually self-assess and improve, not a writer intent on creating “click bait” sound bites to incite controversy. What the interview gets wrong, in fact, and what we know from empirical studies of writing center practice (for instance, Mackiewicz and Thompson, 2015), is what’s right about writing centers: that consultants, especially peers, do an excellent job identifying, through dialogue, each student’s unique needs at that moment and then tailoring feedback to suit that need. Ask any writing center consultant, at Elon or elsewhere, and they will tell you that it’s simply not possible to use the same technique with every student and that adjusting to each student’s learning style is one of the most important aspects of writing center work; consultants will also tell you that students will receive help with whatever they need, whether it’s organization, punctuation, or understanding an assignment’s purpose. What the interview gets right is the invitation to think carefully and continuously about how we can serve each and every student in our writing center; how our practices might intentionally or unintentionally exclude or discriminate; and about the evidence we collect and disseminate that shows the value of our service to students. While we have work to do, as does any academic program, individualized learning is at the heart of writing center practice.

_________

Read Lori Salem’s response to the CHE article. (Editor)

 

中国高校英文写作中心国际学术研讨会 (2018) , 中国浙江大学

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

加入写作中心在中国起步的浪潮 (宋凌珊) (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)

宋凌珊是密西西比学院写作中心的副主任。她也教授写作课与学生辅导的训练课程。凌珊的研究领域包括写作中心理论与实践、ESL辅导、文化研究与国际合作。她目前的研究项目致力于写作中心在中国的推广与建立。凌珊还同时兼任美国东南部写作中心协会的外事协调员、写作中心基督徒协会的TESOL代表、密西西比写作中心协会秘书、以及2018中国高校英文写作中心国际学术研讨会策划委员会成员。

[Joining the Momentum of Writing Center Establishment in China]

写作中心在美国的学术界已经有长远的历史并具有规模,然而在中国情况却有所不同。在中国的高校中,“写作中心”是过去十余年才开始引进的概念。在过去12年,从2006-2017年,有一小撮中国高校走在了建立写作中心的前沿,开始提供针对于英文写作的辅导。2017年6月9-11日,位于中国苏州的一所中英合办大学­­—西安交通利物浦大学举办了有史以来第一次的中国写作中心会议,这对于在中国的写作中心具有里程碑意义。

宋凌珊

写作中心在中国的建立进程是令人振奋的,可是迄今为止还没有学术研究专门针对中国现有的写作中心,也未开始探讨这些写作中心能够建立起来的关键促成因素。换言之,这些写作中心是如何开始的?关键因素有哪些?2017年9月-11月我开始了一项初始研究,致力于研究在中国内地现有的写作中心:这些写作中心存在哪些共性?考虑了哪些国情和本土因素?这些共性是否可以为将来其他写作中心的建立提供可参照的模型?

尽管每个写作中心有自己的特色,但我发现过去十年中美高校之间合作的蓬勃开展给写作中心在中国的建立提供了历史性的契机。“全球化”、“使中国高等教育与世界接轨”的概念深入人心,敦促中国高校与海外的大学开展两种形式的合作:1)与海外的大学合作成立交换学生项目;2)鼓励教师出国到合作院校访学。

例如,中国第一个写作中心(成立于2006年)就是得益于西安外国语大学与位于美国俄亥俄州的鲍林格林州立大学之间一个长期合作的交换项目。在西安外国语大学教授吴丹的一篇文章中,她介绍了中国第一所写作中心的建立并且强调说“西安外国语大学写作中心是借鉴了鲍林格林州立大学写作中心的模型,但是拥有自身的特色”(139)。另外,根据吴丹教授的研究,“这种模型【借鉴美国写作中心但是针对中国国情和地方特色作出调整】已经开始在全国的范围内被采纳。”北京师范大学珠海分校写作中心也借鉴了同样的模型。这个于2016年9月建立的写作中心就借鉴了几所海外大学的经验,包括波斯顿学院。 Continue reading “加入写作中心在中国起步的浪潮 (宋凌珊) (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)”

International Symposium of English Writing Centers in Chinese Universities (2018) | Zhejiang University, China

Joining the Momentum of Writing Center Establishment in China (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)

Lingshan Song is the Assistant Director of the Writing Center at Mississippi College (MC). She also teaches freshmen composition courses and the tutor training course at MC. Her research interests include writing center theory and practice, ESL tutoring, cultural studies, and international collaboration. Her ongoing research projects involve advocating for writing centers in China and supporting writing center establishment there. Lingshan also serves as Outreach Coordinator on the Southeastern Writing Center Association (SWCA) board, TESOL Representative for the Association of Christians in Writing Centers (ACWC), Secretary of Mississippi Writing Centers Association, and Member for the International Symposium of English Writing Center in Chinese Universities planning committee.

[加入写作中心在中国起步的浪潮]

While writing centers have a long history in American academia and are well established in the U.S., in the past decade, writing centers have just started revealing their values to higher education institutions in China. In the past twelve years, from 2006-2017, a batch of Chinese higher institutions have started writing centers to provide tutoring for English writing. Another important step in writing center development was the inaugural conference of Writing Center Association of China, held from June 9-11, 2017 in the Sino-British university, Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, located in Suzhou, China.

Lingshan Song

With the exciting progress of building writing centers in China, there is yet to be a study about existing writing centers in China and their contributing elements commonly observed. In other words, how did these writing centers get started? What elements are essential to their establishment? I conducted preliminary research from September to November 2017, aiming to investigate existing writing centers in mainland China and discover commonalities among them and explore possible models for future writing center establishments in China, considering local adaptations.

Despite local adaptations, I found that as international partnerships prosper between U.S. universities and Chinese universities in the past decade, it has created a historical timing for writing center establishment in China. The “globalization” concept, bringing China’s education more in line with international practice, urges Chinese higher institutions to form international partnerships with oversea universities in two forms: 1) by developing exchange student programs with partner universities; 2) sending faculty to partner universities as visiting scholars. Continue reading “Joining the Momentum of Writing Center Establishment in China (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)”

“Writing-Center Researcher Says Views Were Mischaracterized” || Lori Salem’s response to CHE’s “What’s Wrong With Writing Centers”

Below is Lori Salem’s response to her interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education in What’s Wrong With Writing Centers.

The letter below was originally published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on February 9, 2018. It is presented here unedited and with Salem’s permission.

Lori Salem is the Assistant Vice Provost and director of the Student Success Center and Writing Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.

 

To the Editor:

I am the scholar who was profiled in a Chronicle interview that was given the title, “What’s Wrong With Writing Centers” (The Chronicle, February 5).

While I am grateful to The Chronicle for showcasing my article, I must object to how the interview was framed and edited. I am described as “something of a heretic” in the field for advocating that writing centers adopt new pedagogies, and that description is used to set up a me-against-the-field narrative.

This characterization is simply false. What makes my work new is its quantitative methodology, not my arguments about pedagogy. This is from the conclusion to my article: “I am not the first writing center researcher to observe problems with orthodox writing center pedagogies, nor the first to call for changes. My goal here is to add my voice to that growing chorus, as well as to provide some empirical backing for the argument.”

Moreover, my colleagues have embraced my research — they gave it an award, for heaven’s sake! — and they don’t deserve the implicit slam that came along with the article.

I hope that readers of this interview will be able to see past these mischaracterizations to a more balanced view of writing-center work. In my view, our field does powerful work, and we could still do better. We have come a long way, and we can still go further. The best way to understand my research is as a contribution to a field that is engaged in healthy debate.

To be clear, I don’t believe that there is anything fundamentally “wrong” with writing centers.

Lori Salem
Assistant Vice Provost
Director, Student Success Center and Writing Center
Temple University
Philadelphia

CfP >> Tenth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia: Innovations in Writing Education || March 9th, 2018 || Toyo University

The Writing Centers Association of Japan 第9回

シンポジウム開催「Innovations in Writing Education」
日時:2017年3月9日(金)
主催:東洋大学、The Writing Centers Association of Japan
協賛:政策研究大学院大学
会場:東洋大学(東京都文京区白山5-28-20)
参加登録には、 https://goo.gl/forms/gQAPw2d7nDzLf5cG3 にアクセスしてください。(無料)
発表者募集:ライティングセンターおよびライティング指導/学習に関する研究発表、実践報
告を募集します。
発表時間は質疑応答も含め、25分です。PowerPointなどのプレゼンソフトの使用を是非ご検討
ください。その場合は、ご自分のパソコンやアダプターをご持参ください。
シンポジウムにおける使用言語は英語と日本語です。
応募方法
使用言語:英語または日本語
タイトル: 100英字(スペースを含め)または50和字以内
プログラム掲載用要約:英文100語または和文250字程度
要旨:英文200〜300語または和文500〜800字
氏名、所属、メールアドレス(共同発表の場合は全員)
応募書類を https://goo.gl/forms/qFLoZWh0QWwDwSLy2 で提出してください。
応募期限:2018年2月14日
採否通知:2018年2月19日

The Writing Centers Association of Japan, in conjunction with Toyo University and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), is pleased to announce the Tenth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia to be held on March 9th, 2018. The theme this year is “Innovations in Writing Education.”

This symposium provides opportunities for scholars, teachers, students, university administrators, and other professionals to come together to exchange ideas about the role of writing centers in Asian educational institutions as well as the teaching and learning of writing. The symposium attracts a large number of participants, demonstrating the growing importance
of writing centers and a high level of interest in the role and functions of writing centers and writing in Asian higher education. We welcome a diverse group of participants and presenters
from a variety of contexts to join us. Attendance and participation are free.

Location
Toyo University
5-28-20, Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo 112-8606, Japan

If you plan to attend, please register online.

Call for Proposals
The Program Committee invites proposals for both research and practice-based presentations in English and Japanese. Presenters will have 25 minutes to present and answer questions.
Presenters are encouraged to use presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint), though they will need to bring their own computers and adapters. We also welcome poster presentations. This
year, reports on newly established writing centers and writing programs are particularly welcome, as well as other topics related to writing education.

Submission Guidelines
Language of proposals and presentations: Either English or Japanese
• Title: Up to 100 letters (including spaces) in English or 50 characters in Japanese
• Summary for the symposium program: About 100 words in English or 250 characters in Japanese
• Abstract: 200 to 300 words in English or 500 to 800 characters in Japanese
• Names, affiliations, and e-mail addresses of all presenters

Proposals are to be submitted online.
Deadline for submissions: February 14, 2018 (Japan Standard Time)
Notification: February 19, 2018

Webinar from WLN || Introduction to Publishing in WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship || Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, 3-4pm

WLN is proud to announce our first webinar:  “Introduction to Publishing in WLN:  A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship.”

Friday, February 23, 2018, 3:00pm to 4:00pm E.S.T.

This event will cover WLN’s process of publishing, scholarly genres, and other information, hosted by WLN Associate Editors Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Julie Prebel, and Sohui Lee.

There will be opportunities for Q & A.

If you’ve thought of submitting to WLN, this is an excellent opportunity to hear from us on the process.

The webinar is free, but please R.S.V.P. at:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction-to-publishing-in-wln-a-journal-of-writing-center-scholarship-tickets-41031721985.

Call for proposals || 2018 Canadian Writing Centres Association Call for Proposals >> due Monday, January 15, 2018

The CWCA/ACCR conference committee invites you to submit proposals for our 2018 conference.

 

Submit your proposals by 11:59pm (EST), Monday, January 15, 2018.
Please note that this is a firm deadline, and will not be extended.

All submissions are to be made online.


Conference details:

Where: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

When: May 24-25, 2018

Keynote: Dr. Sheelah McLean

Plenary: Jack Saddleback

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

In Canada, a recent focus on reconciliation and Indigenization are revitalizing conversations around anti-oppression pedagogy (Kumashiro, 2000), a series of approaches which focus on how traditional educational systems and practices reinforce existing hierarchies and contribute to the disenfranchisement of marginalized students. Nationally and internationally, post-secondary institutions are seeing students affected by the rising tide of extremist right-wing politics and dubious news sources, calling for renewed attention to social justice and literacy-building.

An International Writing Centres Association (IWCA) position statement states that writing centres are particularly well positioned to “uphold students’ rights, as we work in the everyday-ness of literacy” (as cited in Godbee & Olson, 2014). As Nancy Grimm (2009) said in her IWCA keynote, “Although some might claim that the work of a writing center is ‘just’ to teach writing, the teaching of writing is never a neutral endeavor; it is never devoid of political motivations or outcomes.”

At the 2018 CWCA conference, we invite you to join us to exchange knowledge, share challenges, and ask questions about the ways our teaching and tutoring can and should engage in anti-oppressive educational practices.

Keynote speaker Dr. Sheelah McLean — a founder of the Idle No More movement and recipient of the Carol Gellar Human Rights Award (2013) — will discuss anti-racist, anti-oppressive educational practices. Closing plenary speaker Jack Saddleback will discuss the topic of resilience, drawing on his personal experiences with mental health activism, student politics, and gender and sexual diversity. Continue reading “Call for proposals || 2018 Canadian Writing Centres Association Call for Proposals >> due Monday, January 15, 2018”