Why good academic writers perform poorly in the workplace: Teaching for transfer across contexts of writing (Part 2 of 2)

This post is the second of two posts on transference and academic writing from the 10th Anniversary Symposium on Writing, held at the Regional Writing Centre, University Limerick, Ireland in June 2017.

Lawrence Cleary is an Educational Developer and Co-Director, Regional Writing Centre at the University Limerick, Ireland

(post one)

Many questioned how this year’s 10th Anniversary Symposium on Writing, Why good academic writers perform poorly in the workplace: Teaching for transfer across contexts of writing, differed from our 2012 symposium. The simple answer is that the second symposium was asking whether it was our job to prepare students for workplace writing, even though no strong arguments were made challenging the notion. It was largely assumed that we should prepare students for the writing that they would do in their professional fields. Our 10th Anniversary Symposium on Writing, on the other hand, was asking if it was even possible to prepare students situated in an academic context for the writing they would do in a completely different context, the workplace.

My scepticism resulted from an interest in Rhetorical Genre Studies and, in particular, the implications of Activity Theory[1] that commenced in earnest after attending Genre 2012 conference in Ottawa. If “genres are part of how individuals participate in complex relations with one another in order to get things done, and how newcomers learn to construct themselves and participate effectively within activity systems”, then “how [can we] teach genres in ways that honor their complexity and their status as more than just typified rhetorical features”?[2] How could workplace activities that are mediated through language be replicated in academic contexts if the goal of the replication did not match the goal of the activity it was about to replicate? As Dias et al.[3] so aptly put it, the contexts are worlds apart. The conditions that motivate the occasion, the features of the rhetorical situation, the nature of the process, the role of author, the rules and the conventions…are all likely to be starkly different. This symposium would contest the notion that writing well in an academic context necessarily prepares graduates for the writing they will do in workplace contexts, a topic skirted around in our last symposium.

Too often, in the literature[4],[5],[6] and in my conversations with employers in many of the transferable skills seminars that I attended in the years since the last symposium, employers have maintained that graduates do not assess the new writing situation, but remain reliant on the values, purposes, conventions and forms, etc., of academic writing.  Graduates’ sense of authorship, audience and purpose, industry representatives have told me, are often completely off the mark of what the corporate context requires. With this in mind, I wanted our symposium to initiate a conversation between representatives from industry and academics about how graduates perform in workplace writing situations, the baggage that they bring along from academic writing contexts, and the process they go through in learning to write for this new workplace context. Because of my own strong belief that the role of ‘situation’ in writing pedagogy is undervalued and, therefore, ineffectively covered or considered in conversations on writing, I wanted both academics and business communication managers to explore the limits of replicating workplace writing situations in academic contexts and to discuss ways in which third-level educational institutions could better prepare third-level graduates for future workplace writing situations.

The symposium was held on June 1st, as the Irish Network for the Enhancement of Writing (INEW) were bringing in Kathleen Blake Yancey, Kellogg Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University (FSU), earlier in the week to talk about the role of reflection in peer review as a tool for learning and writing transfer, and the two co-Chairs, Íde O’Sullivan (UL) and Alison Farrell (NUI Maynooth) graciously asked Kathy if she would mind presenting at our symposium while she was in town. Kathy, generously, agreed to speak to our audience about things that they should consider when framing their conversations on writing and transfer and teaching writing transfer. I thought that some writing developers in Ireland might have some sense of how people in Rhetoric and Composition Studies talk about the writing, or rhetorical, situation and about metacognitive awareness about one’s own process and practices, but those concepts might be somewhat new to many here who teach writing either in the discipline or as ancillary support. Kathy[7] described, for our audience, the components of the Teaching for Transfer (TFT) curriculum that she facilitates in FSU and how each of those components worked with each other in the teaching and learning dynamic. She also identified and defended what she believes to be the conditions necessary for transfer to occur.

By the time that I spoke to Kathy, Anthony Paré was already on board. Anthony agreed to talk a bit about the historical theoretical evolution in our approach to teaching writing at third level and to emphasise the role of context in transitioning from one writing situation to another. Anthony, in his talk, elaborated on the seemingly endless functions that text can perform and emphasised how a shift in context can impact on the form that ‘text’ takes in order to mean and function. Anthony advocated for an increase in the number and variety of rhetorical challenges faced by students, replication of situations and processes that are specific to actual

Anthony Paré, Professor and Head of Language and Literacy Education Department, University of British Columbia, speaking at the Regional Writing Centre’s 10th Anniversary Symposium on Writing, June 1st, 2017, University of Limerick, Ireland.

situations they may face later in their academic careers or in the workplace or in life in general, opportunities for addressing a variety of audiences, chain or series assignments and an increase in the modes by which knowledge is communicated, arguments made. Anthony also brought to the table discussions about the role of industry, their responsibility for easing the transition for incoming graduate employees.

Much more difficult was it to find representatives from industry, and even more so finding third-level writing and/or subject specialists willing to present on their own attempts to facilitate writing transfer across contexts. Originally, I had approximately six or seven people that wrote to me to say that they would like to present on a curriculum designed to assist students in their transition to workplace writing. I envisaged a one-hour breakout of seven or eight twenty-minute presentations on pedagogical practices, but only two people responded to the call for abstracts; one of those two, sadly, had to bow out for personal reasons. Susan Norton, DIT School of Languages, Law & Social Sciences was our lone practitioner. Sue took the stage to deliver a thirty-minute talk about how Reader Response Theory helps developing writers to become more aware of the conventions of the texts that they and their audiences read so that they are more astute about how their audience makes meaning.

I had more success attracting representatives from industry, though the process was somewhat stressful. Maria-Jose Gonzalez, coordinator of Dublin Institute of Technology’s recently formed Academic Writing Centre, tipped me toward Tony Donohoe, Head of Education and Social Policy for the Irish Business and Employer Confederation (Ibec). She had heard Tony speak in the past and found him very supportive of initiatives like our symposium. It was Tony who found Barry McLoughlin, Senior Training Consultant for The Communication Clinic in Dublin. Though The Communication Clinic is usually thought of as one of Ireland’s most visible public relations firms, they also provide industries with consultants like Barry to either train staff to write texts that achieve corporate goals or else consultants write those texts themselves. Our third speaker from industry was much more difficult to come by. I was looking for a corporate-level communications manager, preferably one responsible for external communications. I wanted this person to describe the corporate culture, the kinds of texts that were produced, the process of production, and how the process differed from the writing they had done at university or at the IT.

I researched the top ten indigenous companies, either highest employment numbers or highest revenue turnover. I had originally written to a woman who produced quarterly financial reports for CRH plc, The International Building Materials Group, rated Ireland’s top industry with the highest turnover, but I received no response. I then began searching LinkedIn for Communication Managers. I had written to one person who was a University Limerick graduate working for Twitter, but again received no response. Finally, after making a few other contacts that did not pan out, I came across Edel Clancy, Director of Communication & Corporate Affairs, Musgrave Group, Ireland’s sixth largest employer[8].

Edel is native to Limerick and a graduate of UL, and one of our tutors was a good friend of hers. It couldn’t get better. I had written to her, but again did not receive a response. I was beginning to think I would have to give up on the idea of a having a representative from a large industry who could take our audience through the production of a text, step by step through its complicated, and potentially long, process. Then, Edel wrote back. I gave her the date, and she agreed to speak. She called me a few weeks before the symposium from a train travelling from Cork to Dublin. She was worried about the fifty-minute slot. She thought she would not have enough to talk about. Despite being disconnected several times as the train passed through areas without a signal, we spoke for over an hour about writing and how writing functioned at Musgrave Group. It became clear, even to her, that she’d have no trouble talking about writing for fifty minutes.

Speakers and RWC staff: (from the left) Anthony Paré, Íde O’Sullivan, Kathleen Blake Yancey, Edel Clancy, Lawrence Cleary, Aoife Lenihan, Fiona Farr, UL Dean of Teaching and Learning, Barry McLoughlin and Tony Donohoe (Picture Credit: Brian Gavin Press 22)

The symposium was brilliant. Our audience was not as large as I’d have hoped, but it is already a tricky time of year, only madeworse by the abundance of relevant events that had been scheduled for the preceding two days. By Thursday, June 1st, many people were already tuckered out and not up to the long drives to Limerick from far-flung quarters of Ireland. Nevertheless, people from as far away as the US, the UK and Germany were in attendance. Many people had written to ask if we could video-record the talks. We couldn’t afford a professional outfit to do the job, but we did manage to get hold of a video recorder and a stand. The recordings are available on our website. I hope those who contacted me find value in the recordings. The symposium finished with a panel conversation with the audience. Barry McLoughlin left us with a sense of the importance of writing knowledge to efficacy, asserting that people who feel confident about their writing skills feel more prepared to accept more demanding roles. Edel expressed the hope that the Regional Writing Centre step outside of the university to engage with a wider society, an idea with which the rest of the panel strongly concurred. Kathy and Anthony both advocated for more student engagement with industry through internship and apprenticeship programmes, Anthony speaking a bit more philosophically about the way the academic project views its place in society. Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, UL’s Associate Vice President Academic, was asked to join the panel. Sarah brought the conversation back to the Graduate Attributes spoken of earlier in this piece. Sarah views the attributes as the link between a student’s academic experience and the future that awaits them. If one follows Kathy’s talk, they might consider this link made by Sarah and the link to the future that Kathy tells us is so important as a condition for transfer.

I hope the readers of this report on our symposium and its context will link into our website to view and listen to the conversations that took place on June 1st, at our 10th Anniversary Symposium on Writing. At the RWC, we are preparing now for a new semester, but we are also looking ahead to engaging an increasingly diverse society in the ongoing conversation on writing.

Thank you for reading along.

 

Notes

[1] Russell, D. (1997) “Rethinking Genre in School and Society: An Activity Theory Analysis.” Written Communication 14(4), pp. 504-54.

[2] Barwarshi, A. S. and Reiff, M. J. (2010) Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy, West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, p. 104.

[3] Dias, P. et al. (1999/2009) Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts. New York and London: Routledge, p. 5.

[4] thejournal.ie (2016) ‘Lots of jobs out there for graduates – but employers say they don’t have the communication skills’, http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/graduates-opportunities-employers-ruairi-kavanagh-2861634-Jul2016/

[5] Forbes (2016) ‘These Are The Skills Bosses Say New College Grads Do Not Have’, https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2016/05/17/these-are-the-skills-bosses-say-new-college-grads-do-not-have/#234e34125491

[6] Ibid, p. 5.

[7]  Visit the RWCUL’s website to see video-recordings of each of the speaker’s talks: http://ulsites.ul.ie/rwc/keynote-speakers

[8] The Irish Times (2017) ‘Top 1000: Results 2017’, https://www.irishtimes.com/top1000

Why good academic writers perform poorly in the workplace: Teaching for transfer across contexts of writing (Part 1 of 2)

This post is the first of two posts on transference and academic writing from the 10th Anniversary Symposium on Writing, held at the Regional Writing Centre, University Limerick, Ireland in June 2017.

Lawrence Cleary is an Educational Developer and Co-Director, Regional Writing Centre at the University Limerick, Ireland

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of Ireland’s first academic writing centre, originally called the Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre, University Limerick. The Shannon Consortium is an alliance between four third-level institutes[1] in the Shannon region: The University of Limerick (UL), Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and the Institute of Technology, Tralee (IT, Tralee)—the only institute outside of not only the city of Limerick, but also outside of County Limerick. The formation of that alliance facilitated the consortium’s acquisition of a variety of Strategic Innovation Funds (SIF) that had been offered by the Irish government from 2006-2008. One of those awards funded the Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre for the first two and a half years of its existence, long enough for my colleague, Íde O’Sullivan, and I to establish the centre’s value and appeal for institutional funding to preserve and maintain it. In 2009, the University of Limerick found the contribution of the centre significant enough to warrant allocating an annual budget to keep the resource open. That allocation is managed by the university’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, to whom we now report. However, though we are no longer funded by the Shannon Consortium, we maintained our regional aspirations in our new name, the Regional Writing Centre, UL, and this aspiration is in line with UL’s strategic plan, Broadening Horizons 2015-19.[2]

The Shannon Consortium schools

Previous to the establishment of this first third-level academic writing centre in Ireland, only one other academic writing centre existed on the island: St. Mary’s University College Writing Centre, in Belfast, established in 2002 by two Americans, Jonathan Worley and Matthew Martin. Jonathan and Matthew spoke at our first symposium on writing, Research on Writing Practices: Consequences for the Teaching of Writing and Learner Outcomes, organised by my colleague Íde O’Sullivan in December of 2007, with Ken Hyland as keynote speaker.

In that first symposium, Íde and I presented on our rationale for our choice of response to the university’s writing needs, subsequently published as ‘Responding to the Writing Development Needs of Irish Higher Education Students: A Case Study’ (Cleary, Graham, Jeanneau and O’Sullivan, 2009).[3] Though the bulk of the presentation and ensuing article focused on the results of Íde’s 2005 and 2006 surveys of staff and student attitudes toward writing and their preferences for writing provision, as well as on the informed, systematic approaches available to us for addressing the needs expressed in the surveys, even here we felt we had to first establish for our audience that writing mattered.

When making our case in this first presentation, much of our argument for the importance of writing was focused on the importance of writing for the achievement of the national strategies to which Irish universities responded in their own strategic plans. Ireland at that time was determined to become a knowledge economy. “Knowledge, innovation, creativity and workforce skills are now the key success factors for Ireland’s economic and social prosperity” (Hanafin 2005).[4] Citing the Teachta Dála’s words in her 2008 formal evaluation of our writing centre, Terry Zawacki emphasised this idea that “[t]he importance of writing in the overall higher education mission cannot be overestimated considering the knowledge-economy context in which Ireland now evolves.”[5] Continue reading “Why good academic writers perform poorly in the workplace: Teaching for transfer across contexts of writing (Part 1 of 2)”

Save the Date >> Canadian Writing Centres Association Annual Conference || May 24-25, 2018



Save the date! Mark your calendars!

Please join us May 24-25, 2018 at the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon)


Conference Theme: Resilience, Resistance, Reconciliation
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sheelah McLean (USask), co-founder, Idle No More

Call for Proposals expected: Monday, October 30, 2017
Deadline for Submissions: Monday, January 8, 2018, 11:59pm (firm)

For conference-related inquiries, please contact Sarah King sking@utsc.utoronto.ca

 

“Connecting with Purpose”: 14th Annual Southern California Writing Centers Association Tutor Conference

California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA — Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

The Southern California Writing Centers Association invites proposals for our 2018 Tutor Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Connecting with Purpose.” Connections are central to writing center work: between tutor and student, between concept and execution, and across genres, disciplines, and departments. This year’s conference asks us to question and confirm these connections. The conference organizers intend for participants and presenters to leave with new or renewed connections to each other, and to the meaning and value of their writing center work.

Questions you might consider as you develop your proposal; use them to aid, not limit, your thinking:

  •  What is the purpose of a writing center in facilitating connections across campus—connections around service, scholarship, support, learning, advocacy, development, professionalization?
  •  How can tutors help facilitate students in making their own connections between current and future writing projects?
  •  Who are we connecting with when we involve ourselves in supporting writers and promoting literacy education outside the classroom?
  •  Are there types of connections that writing centers should resist fostering? Or seek to promote?

As always, this conference is by tutors, for tutors. Therefore, we seek proposals for highly interactive 50-minute conference sessions (10 minutes of presentation, 40 minutes of interaction) that seek to investigate, reimagine, and/or rediscover the purpose(s) of writing center work. After giving a short framing presentation (approx. 10 minutes) on research or ideas related to the theme, presenters will engage the audience in activities or discussion to collaboratively explore the issue. The conference will close with a community hour for further sharing and conversation.

Proposals due November 1, 2017 via http://sandbox.socalwritingcenters.org/2018-tutor-conference/

Writing Center Administrators: During the tutor conference, SoCal writing center administrators will engage in a parallel meeting featuring presentations by and discussions with other writing center professionals. Registration, lunch, and community hour will offer opportunities to connect back with tutors.

 

Middle East and North Africa Writing Center Alliance conference: Transfer and Transform

Elizabeth Whitehouse (Ewhitehouse@uaeu.ac.ae) is the Executive Secretary of the Middle East and North Africa Writing Center Alliance (MENAWCA) and the Supervisor of the Student Academic Success Program (SASP) Writing Centers at United Arab Emirates University.

Following up on our first post about MENAWCA in 2015, Elizabeth Whitehouse provides an update here and talks about their 6th biennial conference in February 2018, Transfer and Transform.

WLN Blog: Tell us about MENAWCA. What does it stand for? How did it begin?  How do you communicate with each other?
Elizabeth: MENAWCA stands for the Middle East and North Africa Writing Center Alliance; we are a regional affiliate of the IWCA. The alliance was established by some teachers at my own institution, UAEU, in 2007. They saw a need for a network to connect writing center directors, tutors and staff in the Middle East and North Africa region. Since then, MENAWCA has worked to foster best practice in MENA writing centers, provide professional development and networking opportunities, raise awareness of the value of writing centers as an educational resource and promote research into MENA writing center activities. We pursue these goals in various ways, such as our website, newsletters, listserve and social media (Facebook; Twitter) but most importantly, we hold biennial conferences for our membership and the wider community.

WLN Blog: You are organizing an upcoming conference. Does the conference have a theme? What do you hope participants will get out of the experience and what do you hope to achieve by organizing this conference?
Elizabeth: Yes, work is underway for our 6th biennial conference, which we are convening in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). The conference will be held in the beautiful, historic oasis town of Al Ain, in the UAE, in February 2018. Our conference theme is ‘Transfer and Transform,’ which we hope will act as a springboard for engaging discussions and critical reflections on our work with student writers in the Arab world.  Participants will have an opportunity to share insights, raise questions, hopefully get some answers, and leave with refreshing new ideas and perspectives that will help them advance the work of their centers.  We are particularly excited to be welcoming Dr. Chris Anson, Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University, as our keynote speaker; his wide-ranging scholarly expertise encompasses areas of key importance to our work with student writers (http://www.ansonica.net/).

WLN Blog: Can you tell us about opportunities and challenges you see for the MENAWCA and for writing centers in the region?
Elizabeth: MENAWCA is in a position to offer professional development opportunities for anyone involved in writing center work in the region. Whether someone attends our conferences, reads our newsletters, uses our website, or seeks advice by posting a question on our listserve, MENAWCA should help them get an answer to a writing center related question. It is not uncommon for teachers in the region (such as myself) to find themselves tasked with starting or managing a writing center, with little or possibly no prior writing center experience. Being able to visit an established center or link up with a more experienced peer can be a great help. I see a lot of potential for MENAWCA to expand its work, particularly in encouraging discussion about the work of writing centers in ESOL academic communities. That brings us directly to the challenges!  While institutions in the region often use higher education models established in the US, the academic support services that go with those models are not always in place, or secure. Center directors can find themselves expending a lot of time and effort explaining and justifying their work, and trying to secure appropriate resources. Of course, this challenge is not unique to our region. Continue reading “Middle East and North Africa Writing Center Alliance conference: Transfer and Transform”

From Far and Wide: The Fifth Annual Canadian Writing Centres Association Conference

The Canadian Writing Centres Association (CWCA) hosts its fifth annual conference at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Toronto, Ontario on May 25th and 26th, 2017. CWCA represents members of writing centres, broadly defined, in colleges, universities, and institutions of all sizes across Canada. It is an affiliate member of the International Writing Centres Association (IWCA).

Clare Bermingham is the Director of the Writing and Communication Centre at the University of Waterloo and is Secretary of CWCA.

WLN Blog: The theme of this year’s CWCA conference is From Far and Wide: Imagining the Futures of Writing Centres. In developing this theme, what were you hoping for?

Clare: “From Far and Wide” is a phrase pulled from the Canadian national anthem, and it’s connected to the 150th anniversary of the formation of Canada as a political nation. However, rather than simply and uncomplicatedly celebrating this milestone, our theme seeks to recognize the complex, often difficult, history of Canada, which plays out in our institutions today and feeds into the questions that writing centres ask about language and writing. We want to challenge ourselves to take note of this history as we turn and look ahead to what’s next for writing centres. We want to know how our community is engaging in work that is inclusive and equitable. How are we working with both Indigenous and international student populations? How are we responding to questions about power and language in training, in theory, and in our daily practice? In what ways are we opening our centres up to be places of real diversity and inclusion in our respective institutions?

WLN Blog: The keynote, Dr. Frankie Condon, has written a great deal on racism and rhetoric. How does her keynote fit into this year’s conference?

Clare: Dr. Condon’s work challenges us to think more deeply about how we do the work we do. It moves us to face issues of inequity and bias head on, but to do so with generosity and care. Frankie’s work, for me, is a generous conversation that’s grounded in the assumption that we want to act in good faith, that we’re taking these issues seriously, and that we acknowledge the potential harm of not listening to each other, especially to the marginalized voices in our communities. Her work is personal and reflective, and she is always equally responsible for the work she calls others to do.

Continue reading “From Far and Wide: The Fifth Annual Canadian Writing Centres Association Conference”

Interview with Dr. Julie Christoph about NCPTW

Editor’s Note: I chatted with Dr. Julie Christoph, the chair of this year’s National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW), about her work, the theme of this year’s NCPTW, and what we can expect from the conference. The NCPTW will take place November 4-6 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Interested in submitting a proposal? You can find a link to the CFP at the bottom of this post!

Hi Julie! Can you tell us about yourself and your work?

julie christophI’m currently Professor of English and Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound, which is a small liberal arts college in Tacoma, Washington. I developed my love for writing centers as an undergraduate writing center tutor at Carleton College, and I later went on to do my doctoral work in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I taught in the writing center and also served as an early assistant director of the Undergraduate Writing Fellows Program. Though writing centers are what brought me to the field of writing studies, my position as writing center director is relatively new. I have spent most of my career teaching courses in writing, rhetoric, and culture in the English department; consequently, my research agenda is eclectic. My primary area of research explores what is personal to writers about their argumentative writing: how does a writer as a living, breathing person appear on the pages of academic writing? How do writers’ personal histories, predilections, and prejudices enter into their academic writing? To what extent are writers able to be transparent about their personal history and biases in their writing—and to what extent do readers’ responses to writing exceed the limits of what writers have knowingly represented about themselves? As my teaching load has evolved into the writing center, I’ve increasingly moved toward thinking about writer identity in the writing center, and I’m going to be spending part of my sabbatical next year in at Goethe University in Germany doing a contrastive study with some writing center colleagues there.

The theme for this year’s conference is “It’s for Everyone: The Inclusive Writing Center.”  Can you tell us about how this theme was chosen?

The theme of this year’s NCPTW is an extension of work we’ve been doing at the University of Puget Sound’s writing center (or, more accurately, the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching). As is the case throughout higher education, our enrollment demographics are changing. Our campus is becoming more racially, economically, and neurologically diverse, and we’ve been making concerted efforts to adapt and change our writing center to meet the needs and interests of our students.

In the last four years, we have refocused our mission around anti-racist and inclusive practices. We’ve had some tremendously useful conversations around concepts like Claude Steele’s “stereotype threat,” and the ideas in the collection Writing Centers and the New Racism. We’d love to continue the conversation with a wider circle of people, so it seemed natural to extend these themes to the conference itself. Continue reading “Interview with Dr. Julie Christoph about NCPTW”

Meet MENAWCA

Editor’s note: I was excited when Kelly Wilson of the Texas A&M University in Qatar agreed to share more with us about the Middle East – North Africa Writing Centers Alliance. Read about their valuable work below!

2014 MENAWCA Conference
2014 MENAWCA Conference

MENAWCA (Middle East – North Africa Writing Centers Alliance) was founded in 2007 to foster communication among existing writing centers in the region and to promote the work/practice/pedagogy of WCs in hopes that other institutions would be interested in starting them. Currently, our board has nine members.

I serve as President. My term began in May 2015 when the president at the time learned that she would be leaving the region. The expat world can be quite transient and some of us come and go without much notice. But, I was happy to take the role on as I love writing center work and I see it as an opportunity not only to serve the field, but to learn and develop new skills. My term will end in March 2017.

I have worked at Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) for 5 years, both as a writing consultant and now as the Program Coordinator of Tutorial Services in our Academic Success Center. I oversee the training and supervision of tutors for writing as well as some math and sciene courses. TAMUQ is an engineering college – we offer bachelor’s degrees in mechanical, electrical and computing, petroleum and chemical engineering. We also offer an MEng or MS in chemical engineering.

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The remainder of the members on the MENAWCA Executive Board are as follows:

  • Vice President: Maimoonah Al Khalil (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
  • Past President: Molly McHarg (Washington DC)
  • Secretary: Elizabeth Whitehouse (Al Ain, UAE)
  • Treasurer/IWCA Representative: Sherry Ward (Doha, Qatar)
  • Public Relations Officer: Paula Habre (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • Conference Co-Chairs: Ryan McDonald and Susan Finlay (Muscat, Oman)
  • Webmaster: Amy Zenger (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • Member at Large: Jodi Lefort (Muscat, Oman)

Continue reading “Meet MENAWCA”

CFP: Supporting L2 Writing Competencies at German-Speaking Universities, Munich, April 7-8, 2016

The following call for papers might be interesting to those who also work with L2 learners in their writing centers or learning commons. 

Dear colleagues,

The Language Center of the Technische Universität csm_Flags_small_2_39da641328nchen cordially invites you to contribute to the Third Annual Symposium Supporting L2 Writing Competencies at German-Speaking Universities on April 7 + 8, 2016 in Munich. We are looking forward to discussions of the latest developments in the field, exchanges between practitioners and researchers, and opportunities to network and gain inspiration for our work.

For more details, please check out the Call for Papers in English and German by visiting our website: https://www.sprachenzentrum.tum.de/aademic-english-cluster/symposium-2016/

The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2015

The Team at the TUM English Writing Center and DaF Schreibberatung is looking forward to hearing from you!

For the organizers: 

Heidi Minning / Jeremiah Hendren / Ruth Shannon / Christine Reulein / Dorothea Hartkopf 

——————————————————————–

 The German Call for Papers can be found below. 

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen, Continue reading “CFP: Supporting L2 Writing Competencies at German-Speaking Universities, Munich, April 7-8, 2016”

2015 Peer Tutor Day: Tutors around the Globe

Nijmegen 1Friday July 10th and Saturday July 11th, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

The Nijmegen Centre for Academic Writing would like to invite tutors working at writing centres all over the world for an EWCA peer tutor event this summer. Last year, our tutors were very inspired by the exchange with international colleagues at the EWCA Peer Tutor Day in Frankfurt/Oder. Unfortunately, no Peer Tutor Day was planned for this summer, which would mean that many of our tutors would not have the opportunity to meet with other (foreign) colleagues to exchange ideas. That is why we decided to host the 2015 Peer Tutor Day in Nijmegen!

Continue reading “2015 Peer Tutor Day: Tutors around the Globe”

“(De)Center: Testing Assumptions about Peer Tutoring and Writing Centers”–Call for proposals

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The National Peer Tutoring in Writing Conference announces its conference and call for proposals

The theme of the 2015 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) and Rocky Mountain Peer Tutor Conference is “(De)Center: Testing Assumptions about Peer Tutoring and Writing Centers.” Throughout its history, peer tutoring has often operated on a set of sometimes untested assumptions, such as that peer-to-peer tutoring is an effective way of learning, that peers can collaborate in non-hierarchical relationships, that a writer’s role in the tutoring session is different than the tutor’s, and that best methodologies are known and easily practiced. As the assumed divide between the classroom, writing center and community shifts, peer tutors are challenged to find a place for themselves within dynamic rhetorical situations. By (de)centering traditional notions of peer tutoring, we can re-imagine the idea of a center as a place and a praxis.

Continue reading ““(De)Center: Testing Assumptions about Peer Tutoring and Writing Centers”–Call for proposals”

CALL FOR PAPERS EXTENDED || CANADIAN WRITING CENTRES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE, MAY 2015. OTTAWA, ON

Dr. Lucie Moussu writes:

I have been Director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Writers (C4W) for almost six years, now, after getting a PhD in ESL at Purdue University and working as ESL Coordinator and Writing Centre Director at Ryerson University, in Toronto, for three years. The C4W is growing very quickly, with more than 40 graduate and undergraduate tutors (trained in a course I teach every fall). We served about 7000 students, faculty members, and staff last year, and we would like to help more people but we are running out of space. Most writing centre directors in Canada have administrative positions and I am one of the very few, if not the only one in Canada, who has a tenured faculty/Writing Centre Director position.

The Canadian Writing Centres’ Association (CWCA) used to be the “daughter” of a larger Canadian conference but seceded about three years ago, just as I was joining it. It had its very first independent conference in Victoria, in 2013, and a second conference near Toronto, last spring. Its next conference will be in Ottawa, in May. First, I was its francophone representative and now I am its Vice-Chair. Since I became involved in this association, I have tried to get tutors involved in research and presentations at our conferences. Historically, only writing centre administrators and directors have presented, since tutor research and involvement has not been something that is done in Canada, but I am trying to change this. PrintTo encourage tutors to attend and present at our conferences, I am trying to put together some kind of tutor bursary and create a “tutors interest section.” My C4W tutors have been the only ones presenting at the CWCA conferences so far, and I hope that the bursary and my efforts will pay off one day and we’ll have more directors getting their tutors involved in small projects and attending the conference and presenting together.

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FROM THE CALL FOR PAPERS

Ideas connect us to the world and reconnect us to our lives and our professional practice, and theories and research can reconfirm what we do, or can provide us with fresh perspectives. We invite you to present a paper, conduct a workshop, or suggest a panel or roundtable on one of the following “capital ideas”:

  • The politics of location and funding in the Writing Centre
  • Perceptions of the Writing Centre in the community: Debunking myths.
  • Inclusive practices in the Writing Centre: Focusing on indigenous populations and bilingualism.
  • Opportunities for self-reflection in the Writing Centre.
  • The theory and practice of tutor training for the Writing Centre.
  • Technology and the Writing Centre.
  • Facilitating collaborative practices between Faculty and the Writing Centre.

For more, visit the CWCA website today!

#EstoyconEndil2014 and the Latin America Writing Center Association

In November, Violeta Molina-Natera, director of the Javeriano Writing Center in Colombia, sent out an invitation to the Writing Center Listserv to stand in social-media solidarity with participants of an academic conference in Venezuela, who are facing considerable economic and political challenges.

After the conference was over, I asked Violeta to share more about the exciting work that her writing center is doing, along with others in Latin America. Her responses are below, in her own words.

Continue reading “#EstoyconEndil2014 and the Latin America Writing Center Association”

Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia

TIU campus
TIU campus

The Seventh Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. It will be hosted this year by Tokyo International University in conjunction with the Writing Centers Association of Japan.

Proposals are sought in all areas of research and practice related to writing centers as well as the teaching and learning of writing. The submission deadline is January 15, 2015. To register to attend or to submit a proposal for a presentation, visit the WCAJ website.

Continue reading “Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia”

European Writing Centers Association Conference 2014: Early bird registration possible until May 16th

We would like to take the opportunity to point out the Early Bird registration deadline for reduced conference fees -May 16th 2014 – for the EWCA 2014 conference in Frankfurt (Oder). You can register online www.ewca14.eu

Moreover, we would like to share the following information with you:

Peer Tutoring Day

We would like to welcome peer writing tutors from all over the world to join us for the European Peer Writing Tutor Day. This event is a special educational day for peer tutors from different writing centres all across the world. The event will start with an educational training day on 18th July 2014 at the Writing Centre of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) and is organized by German and Polish peer tutors from the European University Viadrina and the University of Łódź.

The training will focus on exchanging knowledge and experiences with different academic writing cultures, tutoring conferences/consultations and other aspects concerning peer tutor work at a writing center. A dinner will be organized in Slubice, on the Polish side of the river Oder. All participants are welcome to join the EWCA Conference on 19th July 2014 in the evening, after the Peer Tutor Day review and a discussion of the future of global peer tutor work.

Further information can be found on the website www.ewca14.eu under “Peer Tutor Day”. If you are interested in participating, please send us a short note to ewca14@europa-uni.de.

Call for Poster Presentations

In order to match the number of high quality abstracts for presentations and workshops, we are still looking for poster presentations. If you would like to present a poster (Format A0), please feel free to hand in your proposal. This is an excellent way to present writing centers, personal experiences with writing or with the teaching and tutoring of writing. Moreover, it is an amazing opportunity to connect with people and become feedback on projets.

Discovering Poland

We are happy to inform you that now we can provide you with more information on the Poland trip after the conference organised by “Marco der Pole”:
One-week-roundtrip: discover Poland – Poland Study Tour! July 23rd- 29th, starting from Frankfurt (Oder), ending in Berlin
For further details, please have a look on our website www.ewca14.eu under “Additional Program Options” and for registration please contact:
Marek Frysztacki, office@marcoderpole.com.pl
Deadline for registration: June 23rd 2014

On our homepage www.ewca14.eu you can find travel and venue information, indications for hotels in Frankfurt (Oder) and on the Polish side, a presentation of the keynotes and much more.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards
Katrin Girgensohn &
EWCA conference team

Join us: http://www.ewca14.eu

: ) Schreibzentrum der Europa-Universität Viadrina
August-Bebel-Str. 12, Raum AB 115
Postfach 1786
15207 Frankfurt (Oder)
E-Mail: ewca14@europa-uni.de
Tel. 0335/55 34 37 30

CFP: CCCC Workshop on Research About Writing in Higher Education Outside the US

We are inviting brief proposals for up to twenty-four researcher-participant roles in a U.S. College Conference on Composition and Communication (CCCC) workshop focused on research about writing in higher education outside of the U.S.

We know that researchers around the world are interested in finding sites, physical and figurative, for serious cross-national conversation that includes multiple research traditions.

For the eighth year, we are planning to propose a workshop that (if accepted) will take place at the annual CCCC conference. The conference next year is in Tampa, Florida, US, from March 18-21, 2015.

The workshop is tentatively titled Deep Rewards and Serious Risks in International Higher Education Writing Research: Comfort Zones and Contact Zones.

This workshop, along with the exchanges we have before meeting at the conference, is designed to make space available at the CCCC conference for extended time to read, process, think through, and discuss in detail each other’s work. We have learned, through seven previous workshops and other international exchanges, that we all need this kind of time for real exchange, given that we come from different linguistic, institutional, political, geographic, theoretical and pedagogical places.

We want to engage researcher-participants from many countries and research traditions in an equal exchange dialogue, learning from each other: the primary focus is on the writing research itself.

The research can be focused on teaching or studying writing in any language. We are willing to help with translation of a text into English as needed, if the paper is accepted for the workshop.

The brief proposal should describe a research project you would be interested in sharing with other facilitators and participants. It can be completed or in process. By research, we mean a project with a focused research question, an identified methodology (qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, historical, discourse analysis, etc), and the collection of data in some form.

The project should be “international” for a U.S. audience, by which we mean (*only* for the purposes of this U.S. call!!) carried out by either scholars in countries other than the U.S. or scholars collaborating deeply across borders, including U.S. borders, in any language. Your role in the workshop would be to provide a draft text about the research by the end of December 2014, to read the other facilitators’ texts before attending the CCCC conference, and to participate in the day-long workshop by leading a discussion about your project and participating in discussions of a subset of others’ projects.

View the 2014 Workshop Proposal to get an idea of what the overall proposal will look like. We’ve included the titles from last year’s workshop to give you an idea of the kinds of work we’ve exchanged in past sessions. We will send out a draft of the 2015 overall proposal when you send in your project description. You will be welcome to suggest changes to the overall proposal at that point. You may notice that the proposal is written with a U.S. readership in mind–this is because the proposal review committee is comprised primarily of U.S. scholars. We seek to convince this audience that many CCCC attendees have much to learn from writing research in traditions other than the ones they find most familiar–that writing research needs multiple perspectives from multiple contexts and traditions. We also know how critical it is for all scholars to be directly engaged with projects and research models from multiple research traditions.

Please submit your proposal by April 25th. The International Workshop Proposal Template includes the questions you will need to answer as you prepare your proposal. This proposal can be quite informal (it serves to help us determine appropriate projects, and only the title will appear in the program), so please feel free to send something along.

We strongly encourage you to submit a proposal to the CCCC as individual presenters, as well. The CCCC format does allow individuals to present at both a workshop and a concurrent session (it does not allow individuals to present at more than one concurrent session).

Thank you! Please write with any questions at all.

Cinthia Gannett and Tiane (Christiane) Donahue

CFP: Sixth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia

The Sixth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia will be held on Saturday,
March 8, 2014, in Tokyo, Japan. It will be hosted this year by J.F.
Oberlin University in conjunction with the Writing Centers Association
of Japan.

Proposals are sought in all areas of research and practice related to
writing centers as well as the teaching and learning of writing. Both
research- and practice-based presentations are welcome. The submission
deadline is February 3, 2014.

For more information, visit the conference site.

Invitation to EWCA conference 2014 in Germany

Dear colleagues,
We cordially invite you to the 2014 EWCA conference at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder)/Germany. Proposals are due by January 15!

Let’s peer across borders – writing centers in motion

July 19th-22nd 2014

–          Directly on the Polish border

–          One hour train ride from Berlin

postcard ewca 2014 conferenceWe would like to invite you to peer into the future of writing centers in Europe and worldwide. During the last years, many things came into motion with regards to writing centers and writing pedagogies: New centers opened, new literacies became vital, new research areas became important, new collaborations started. Our 2014 conference aims to offer a space for peering into the work of others and for starting new collaborations in research and practices. The verb “to peer” indicates that we invite everybody to consider our everyday work and to take a scholarly stance. It also reminds us of peer learning and a truly collaborative learning experience. To ensure exciting and lasting networking across borders we invite research-based presentations, workshops, and poster presentations, but will also offer an open space session and possibilities to meet with special interest group

The conference lingua franca will be English. However, please feel free to offer your sessions also in Polish, French or German.

Please find  the call for papers at the conference homepage: www.ewca14.eu.

We are looking forward to meeting you in July 2014!

Best wishes,

Katrin Girgensohn

CFP: Symposium Supporting English Writing Competencies, March 27-28, 2014 (Lueneburg, Germany)

The one and a half day symposium “Supporting English Writing Competencies: The Role of Writing Centers in Second Language Learning” at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, March 27-28, 2014, focuses on different organizational structures for L2 writing support within European universities and provides the opportunity for professionals to exchange L2, and particularly English composition teaching practices.
 
We will provide a forum for writing center personnel (professional staff and students tutors/consultants), lecturers and faculty in foreign language departments, lecturers and faculty who teach in English or other languages in an L2 context, non-university affiliated second language specialists, university administrators and staff, and those interested starting a writing center. We particularly invite colleagues who address writing competencies in L2 contexts other than English.
There are two ways to present your work at the symposium:
 
1. Poster Session
We welcome 250-300-word poster proposals for an interactive poster and networking session on Friday afternoon. Possible topics include:
·      Program development at your ESL/L2 writing center
·      The role of ESL/L2 writing competencies within your institution and department
·      Research projects on writing competencies in an ESL/L2 context
·      Teaching strategies/techniques that emphasize academic writing in ESL/L2 contexts
·      Composition support for discipline-specific genres
·      Interdisciplinary academic writing
2. Presentations
We invite proposals (500 words maximum) for 15 minute presentations with 10 minute questions and answer sessions on best practices for L2 composition support. Possible topics include:
·      Writing Center pedagogies
·      Writing Across the Curriculum Initiatives
·   Navigating discipline-specific writing conventions such as those found in the natural sciences, social sciences, business, etc.
·   Integrating writing in foreign language classrooms/centers Using online tools for in-class peer feedback and opportunities for teaching ESL/L2 writing online
·   Writing skills in English for Academic Purposes
Deadline for Submission: January 24, 2014, midnight (CET), to writingcompetencies@leuphana.de

CFP for MENAWCA 2014 Conference

The conference theme is “Sustaining Writing and Writing Centers in the Middle East-North Africa Region.”

As writing centers grow in the MENA region, questions emerge not only about how to sustain and develop them but also about how they can serve as model centers. What strategies can and should regional writing centers adopt in order to establish a solid presence within institutional frameworks? How can peer tutors, international collaborations, local/regional research initiatives drive the momentum? What alliances within or across academic institutions strengthen writing center continuity and support? What technological initiatives, including use of mobile devices, influence our effectiveness with student writers and as we network with other centers? What theories and practices that grow out of local contexts can promote writing center work both within the MENA region and with other local, regional, and international writing forums? This conference aims to identify multi-faceted variables that promote the sustainability of writing programs, writing centers, and most importantly the dialogue between writers.

The MENAWCA invites students, teachers and other professionals who support student writers to its biennial conference, November 7-8, 2014 at the Canadian University in Dubai.

Deadline for Submissions: April 15th, 2014

Continue reading “CFP for MENAWCA 2014 Conference”