CFP: Special Issue of WLN–What We Believe and Why: Educating Writing Tutors

Guest editors Karen Johnson and Ted Roggenbuck share their call for proposals, below.

Key to our success in the important work of writing centers is our effectiveness in providing tutor education. Our field has over three decades of scholarship on how to educate writing tutors in a multitude of settings, but the wealth and variety of resources can create challenges for those seeking guidance. However, that we also have a number of excellent and popular (though not universally used) resources such as The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors, The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, and The Oxford Guide for Writing Tutors does suggest at least some consistency in how we educate tutors. But to what degree do we share core beliefs about tutor education, how do we know what aspects of our programs to prepare writing tutors are most effective, and to what areas are we not paying adequate attention? Moreover, what are effective contexts for educating tutors? Although credit-bearing courses appear to be ideal contexts for tutor education, what particular aspects of a course make it effective? And for directors who are unable to offer a course or even paid time for educating tutors, how can they effectively prepare tutors for the different rhetorical situations and writers they will encounter?

Continue reading “CFP: Special Issue of WLN–What We Believe and Why: Educating Writing Tutors”

In Other Words–a book review

arihn%20imageToday’s post comes courtesy of Andrew Rihn, who started working in writing centers as an undergrad at Kent State University – Stark Campus. Today, he works as a professional tutor at Stark State College. Andrew says that “the book does not discuss writing centers directly, but the topics it does discuss overlap with the work of the writing center in many ways (language acquisition, translation, identity issues, genre and style, etc).” 

Jhumpa Lahiri, the acclaimed novelist whose first book won her the Pulitzer Prize at age thirty-two, has released her first work of non-fiction: a collection of essays about learning Italian aptly titled In Other Words. The essays are animated by her passion, wide-eyed if a bit innocent, yet crafted by a masterful writer whose love of language is evident in every line.

Spoiler alert: the book never discusses writing centers. Rather, it is a personal narrative of language acquisition. Lahiri, whose life is devoted to the craft of writing, recounts her experience with Italian as one might recount a love affair. Lahiri embraces not only moments of exhilaration, but also those moments that disturb and disrupt, and even those that hurt; I suspect the writing center community will find much to identify with.

51wnsrzeh6l-_sx315_bo1204203200_In all, the book contains twenty-one essays, two short stories, and one longer, lyric afterword. Essays are short, most clocking in at less than five pages. In Other Words was first written in Italian and later translated into English, and both are presented side by side, making its 233 pages appear deceptively long. A fast and focused read, I could easily imagine this book being useful for teaching, or initiating conversations in a writing center (topics include language acquisition, the processes of reading and writing, the intricacies of identity, translation, genre and form, and the creative process).

The essays are short and episodic, focusing on one element of the language-learning process at a time. Many focus on a central metaphor or analogy. For instance, early in the book she compares learning Italian to swimming across a lake. For Lahiri, studying Italian in America was like swimming near the shore, good exercise but not exciting. She could always touch ground with her feet, revert back to speaking English. “But you can’t float without the possibility of drowning, of sinking. To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore.” Throughout the book, she revisits and revises this analogy, swimming through the deep parts of the lake, allowing the lake to become an ocean.

Continue reading “In Other Words–a book review”

WLN News Round-Up: September 2016

Here is some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

“How to Write Like an Olympian”– In reflecting on the summer Olympics, Shira Lurie draws parallels between writing and athletics and shares tips for graduate students to write at their highest level.  [Inside Higher Ed]

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“Gender-Neutral Pronoun Usage in Academic Writing”– This article discusses the importance of avoiding gender bias in academic writing and offers advice on using singular they. [UofL Writing Center]

What do adult students want from college?“- Did you know that over 40% of college students are over 25 years old? This article explores the needs of adult college students. Let us know in the comments if your writing centers have initiatives for adult students!  [Christian Science Monitor]

“College Graduates Weigh In On the Value of Higher Education”– Read or listen to quotes from recently graduated students who chose public, private, and community college experiences. [NPR]

“You Can Write Your Way Out of an Emotional Funk. Here’s How.”– This article reminds us of the therapeutic powers of writing and gives tips on how you can use writing to lift your mood and escape a funk. [NYMag]

Research on Writing Centers–Some Essential Studies

Lisa_professional_portrait_2011,_Nancy_FroehlichLisa Ede directed Oregon State University’s Writing Center from 1980 to 2010.  She retired from OSU at the end of fall term 2013. You can read a graduate student’s history of OSU’s Writing Center here.  Lisa also was a co-director of the 2007 and 2008 IWCA Summer Institutes and a leader at the 2006 Institute and has published several articles on writing centers.  
The post below is an excerpt from a talk that Ede gave at the Canadian Writing Centres Association Conference this past spring. Ede’s talk focused on the role that collaboration can play in energizing writing center communities. As part of that discussion, Ede emphasized the strong research tradition that both grows out of and supports the daily work of writing centers. In order to convey a rough sense of this tradition and show its development over time, Ede constructed a chronologically organized list of important book-length contributions to writing center studies. In this excerpt Ede introduces this list, which begins with the earliest monograph that Ede found and continues to the present. Here is Ede’s discussion of the list and the list itself.

I should mention two caveats about this list. I hope to explore the reasons why collaboration is a particularly enabling term and construct for those of us who work in writing centers, wherever they are located—in the US, Canada, or around the world.

I decided to construct a chronologically organized list of important book-length contributions to writing center studies. The list begins in 1984 with the earliest monograph that I found and continues to the present.

I should mention two caveats about this list. The first is that while I think this list includes most important book-length studies that in one way or another focus on writing centers, I cannot claim that it is comprehensive. The second is that because this list does not include articles, book chapters, or other briefer studies, it is only the tip of the iceberg, as it were. To get a full sense of research on writing centers, you would need to turn to the contents of such journals as The Writing Lab Newsletter (founded in 1976 and recently renamed WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship), The Writing Center Journal (founded in 1980), and Praxis: A Writing Center Journal (founded in 2003). Writing center research is also published in a variety of journals that focus more broadly on work in rhetoric and composition—journals such as College Composition and Communication, College English, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and similar venues.

Continue reading “Research on Writing Centers–Some Essential Studies”

AUA’s Math and Writing Center: Let’s get acquainted!

Photo_Anna AghlamazyanAnna Aghlamazyan is the Math and Writing Center coordinator at the American University in Armenia. She shares a bit of the story of her center, below!

Students at the American University of Armenia (AUA) have a place not to be found in any other educational institution in Armenia – a Center dedicated to Math and Writing. We are the only one in the country and now are 3 years old.

It all began in 2013 when Garine Palandjian, Manager of Student Services, launched the Center for Student Success. Six work-study students were hired to provide math and writing consultations specifically targeting undergraduate students.

4. MWC

Founded 25 years ago, AUA is a private, independent university affiliated with the University of California. Our University initially offered only graduate programs but with the establishment of undergraduate programs The Math and Writing Center was also set up. Supporting student success is an integral part of an American undergraduate education; therefore, AUA ensured that student support services such as the MWC would be included in the design of the undergraduate program.

The number of consultants did not change significantly since the launch of the Math and Writing Center, ranging from 4 to 5. Upon being hired, all of the work-study students are trained to be able to provide support to their peers successfully. The Manager of Student Services and I as the Math and Writing Center Coordinator, guide the consultants to essential tips and tricks to prepare them for consultation sessions. We also have bi-weekly meetings throughout the academic year to ensure work-study students’ professional development.

Continue reading “AUA’s Math and Writing Center: Let’s get acquainted!”

Interview with Dana McLachlin from the Asian University for Women

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 10.04.28 AMIn today’s interview, Dana McLachlin, Coordinator of the Writing Center at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, discusses the focus of AUW and how the writing center meets student needs.

Hi Dana! Can you tell us about the mission of Asian University for Women (AUW) and the student population?

AUW is a unique institution in many ways: we’re a liberal arts college for women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and our students come from over 15 countries across Asia, including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Syria. AUW’s mission is to graduate service-oriented leaders who will collaborate across cultural, ethnic, and religious divisions to address social and political problems. Our liberal arts curriculum thus requires courses in Social Analysis and Ethical Reasoning to cultivate critical thinking and civic and political responsibility; our residential program and extracurricular activities also promote friendship and cooperation among students. Our mission is also to expand access to higher education for women, thus the majority of our students are the first women from their families to attend higher education, and most receive full scholarships to study.

How did you get involved with the AUW writing center? What was your experience with writing center work before AUW?

I originally worked as a writing tutor at the University of Richmond, in Richmond, Virginia in the United States. At UR, most of my writing tutoring was classroom-specific rather than in a center. I worked with a specific professor for first-year writing seminars, and gave written feedback in addition to meeting with students.

When researching postgraduate opportunities, I found out about AUW online, and jumped at the chance to live in Bangladesh and work at a women’s university. While I enjoyed writing tutoring at Richmond, I began to really love writing center work at AUW, largely because of our unique student body and context. Working with many students in different classes is also a unique challenge compared to being a class-specific tutor, where you may know the assignment and content well.  

dsc_1713What does a typical day look like at the AUW Writing Center?

As with almost any office in Bangladesh, a typical day at the writing center involves many cups of tea and lots of conversation! We’re open 10:30-6:00 weekdays as well as Saturday afternoons (the second day of the weekend in Bangladesh). We normally start the day relatively quiet, but by the afternoon we’re busy with tutors and students coming in and out, and lots of chatting by the front desk. We’re really lucky to have a group of dedicated work-study students, who serve as peer tutors and administrative assistants. They are the lifeblood of the center and keep everything running smoothly, welcoming people as they walk in and creating a friendly atmosphere. We also have a group of staff (in the past AUW fellows and WorldTeach Volunteers) who do the bulk of our tutoring; they also run workshops and IELTS/GRE courses for students preparing for graduate school.

Continue reading “Interview with Dana McLachlin from the Asian University for Women”

Call for Submissions: Digital Resource Toolkit for Secondary School Writing Center Directors

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 11.15.11 AMPriority Submission Date: August 15, 2016 (priority), September 15, 2016 (regular)

Contact Amber Jensen, President of the Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association, at capta.connects@gmail.com with questions. The call for submissions is as follows:

 

We invite secondary school writing center directors to contribute to an exciting, updated, an digital new version of the Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association’s Resource Toolkit for Secondary School Writing Center Directors.

The first versions of this resource, assembled in 2011 and 2012 by a team of four SSWC directors in Northern Virginia, were designed to support new SSWC directors by sharing artifacts from our centers and exemplars of the kinds of documents and materials we created to support our work and our tutors’ work. More than a theory-­based description of writing center pedagogy (which has been widely published elsewhere), we envisioned this resource as a toolkit, which is what we named it, with practical examples, accompanied by explanations, of various documents and materials throughout the phases of establishing and maintaining our writing centers.

For the past five years, distribution of this resource has been in high demand, but unfortunately limited due to printing and shipping costs. This summer, with funding from George Mason University, we are developing a new digital edition of the toolkit which will be distributed this fall; it will be available in PDF and e­book formats, and we plan to make it downloadable for free. Not only does a digital edition allow for wider and more equitable distribution of the materials, but it also allows for more frequent revisions and updates, which is very exciting.

We are reaching out to the wider community of SSWC directors to invite your contributions to this resource. We invite you to consider the kinds of documents and products you are willing to share with other SSWC directors, including materials you have designed as a program administrator for tutors, teachers, administrators, and other audiences. These artifacts might fit into any of the following categories (described more in detail here ):

  1. Planning and Proposal (planning documents, committee descriptions and roles, proposed budgets, administrative proposals, three­ or five­ year plans, etc.)
  2. Tutor Recruitment and Selection (nomination letters, tutor application materials, tutor selection criteria, selection committee roles, interview materials, etc.)
  3. Initial Tutor Training (training agendas, resource lists, materials designed for tutors to learn about tutoring and/or writing, etc.)
  4. Program Implementation (informational flyers or advertisements, teacher­ or tutor­created PSAs for students, teachers, administrators, methods for keeping records on tutoring sessions, tutor reflection logs, tutor evaluation mechanisms, administration meeting agendas, etc.)
  5. Tutor Course Curriculum (syllabi for tutor training courses, writing assignments for tutors, assessment criteria, etc.)
  6. School­wide Writing Initiatives (partnership programs with departments, clubs, activities in the schools, special workshops or outreach initiatives, etc.)
  7. Gathering Evidence of Success: Data and Evaluation (monthly reports, quantitative and/or qualitative data on tutoring, etc.)

Continue reading “Call for Submissions: Digital Resource Toolkit for Secondary School Writing Center Directors”

WLN News Round-Up: August 2016

Here is some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

“A life in review: Writing tasks that academics do that we don’t talk about”– Sue Starfield, Director of the Learning Centre at UNSW Australia, explores genre conventions that academics utilize, but don’t often discuss or teach. [Doctoral Writing SIG]

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“Ditch Writing Stress Through Journaling”– Matt Baker from the University of Nevada, Reno writing center discusses the benefits of keeping a journal and where journaling falls within the writing process. [University of Nevada, Reno]

“Everyone Loves a Slinky”– Brodie Willard from Texas A&M University writing center discusses a tutoring session where using toys helped communicate feedback to a writer. [Peer Centered]

“Four Resolutions for the New Semester”– David Gooblar lays out four goals for his teaching  practice. What are your resolutions for the upcoming academic year? Let us know in the comments! [Vitae]

CFP: Special Issue of WLN–What We Believe and Why: Educating Writing Tutors

Karen Johnson, Associate Professor at Shippensburg University, and Ted Roggenbuck, Associate Professor at Bloomsburg University, direct writing centers in the same state system. Over the past several years, they have collaborated to develop cross-institutional trainings and research. Their ongoing discussions and scholarship about educating writing tutors span several publications, conferences, and workshops, piquing their thirst for topics surrounding tutor education.

Key to our success in the important work of writing centers is our effectiveness in providing tutor education. Our field has over three decades of scholarship on how to educate writing tutors in a multitude of settings, but the wealth and variety of resources can create challenges for those seeking guidance. However, that we also have a number of excellent and popular (though not universally used) resources such as The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors, The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, and The Oxford Guide for Writing Tutors does suggest at least some consistency in how we educate tutors. But to what degree do we share core beliefs about tutor education, how do we know what aspects of our programs to prepare writing tutors are most effective, and to what areas are we not paying adequate attention? Moreover, what are effective contexts for educating tutors? Although credit-bearing courses appear to be ideal contexts for tutor education, what particular aspects of a course make it effective? And for directors who are unable to offer a course or even paid time for educating tutors, how can they effectively prepare tutors for the different rhetorical situations and writers they will encounter?

Continue reading “CFP: Special Issue of WLN–What We Believe and Why: Educating Writing Tutors”

“Does anyone know…?”: The National Census of Writing responds

gladstein_jill_profileAs a perfect kick-off to our upcoming fall semester, Jill Gladstein writes about the amazing work she and her colleague Brandon Fralix have done creating and curating the invaluable National Census of Writing. Their work was supported by a prestigious Mellon Foundation grant and is a game-changing resource for conversations in the field.  

Often someone posts a question on WCenter or via social media asking about common practices in the writing center. Where is your writing center located? How many consultations did you hold last year? Are your consultants undergraduates, graduate students, or professional tutors? How are they trained and paid? Who directs the writing center? Sometimes people request this information with urgency in order to save a threatened writing center or other times people request this information out of curiosity to provide context for how their individual writing center fits into the larger landscape of writing centers. The answers to these questions provide perspective for folks working in and out of our centers, but we have been limited by the lack of response to these data requests.

Last fall my colleague Brandon Fralix from Bloomfield College and I, with the assistance and support of many, launched the National Census of Writing database.

We sent individuals at over 2500 institutions a 200+ question survey covering eight broad topics.

survey

Our goal was to complement individual research projects and larger projects such as the Writing Centers Research Project and WAC Mapping Project by providing a large set of data that would be easily accessible via the internet. We wanted to make it easier for people to create a data-informed practice within their writing program or center.

Continue reading ““Does anyone know…?”: The National Census of Writing responds”

“Transfer of Learning in the Writing Center” CFP: Special Issue of WLN

Guest Editors: Dana Lynn Driscoll (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and Bonnie Devet (College of Charleston)

A vital topic in higher education is transfer of learning, or what is generally known as students’ ability to adapt, apply, or remix prior knowledge and skills in new contexts, including educational, civic, personal, and professional.  As recent writing center scholarship attests, transfer of learning is of key importance to the work we do in writing centers, both with our work with clients but also with our tutors themselves.

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For this special issue of the WLN, we encourage contributors to consider, as starting points, some of the following questions related to transfer and centers:

  • How might transfer be defined and considered in a writing center context?
  • How does transfer help characterize the development of consultants, both novice and expert?
  • How do consultants transfer knowledge between settings?
  • What strategies can consultants use to support and encourage clients’ transfer of prior knowledge and skills during sessions?
  • How do clients use the writing center to transfer writing knowledge between courses?
  • What role do dispositions play in transfer in a writing center context?
  • What can writing center directors do to help prepare tutors to better support transfer?
  • How can transfer of learning be a primary mission for writing centers?

Continue reading ““Transfer of Learning in the Writing Center” CFP: Special Issue of WLN”

WLN News Round-Up for the Month of July

Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

“What does OWL mean to you?: Creating New Web-Based Resources for the Writing Center”– This post explores the process of making an online writing workshop about literature reviews, especially focusing on making it interactive using the program Zaption. [UofL Writing Center]

“From the CanLit Guides Workshop to the Writing Centre: Using Think-Aloud Protocol as a Tool for Peer Review”– This entry explains the think-aloud protocol and explains how it was applied in a dissertation bootcamp. [University of Waterloo]

“The (Ghost) Writer in the Machine”– This interview with Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, author of the new book Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing, discusses the relationship between writers and writing technology. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

“WriteCast: Favorite Apps to Save You Time While You Write”– This podcast episode from Walden University shares apps that student writers can use to aid in the writing process. Take a listen below:

CFP–Tensions in Professionalism: Dress Codes in the Writing Center

Dr. Katie Manthey, Director
Katie.manthey@salem.edu

Shannon Henesy, Intern, Assistant Director
shannon.henesy@salem.edu

The 2016-2017 Staff of the Salem College Writing Center
writingcenter@salem.edu

Tensions in Professionalism: Dress Codes in the Writing Center

Writing centers serve clients as whole people. As Harry Denny explains in his piece “Queering the Writing Center,” “In supporting writers, we never just sit side by side with them as purely writers; they come to us as an intricately woven tapestry, rich in authenticity and texture of identities. But this cloth often requires something extra to be legitimated in the academy” (103). Going one step further, we propose that the “cloth” of identity could be taken literally. After all, when clients and consultants come into the writing center, they are always wearing the “woven tapestry” of their own clothes and displaying their identities, at least in part, through what Joanne Eicher calls “dress practices,” which can include clothing, make up, hairstyle, body odor, and more (4). Returning to Denny, because writing centers exist within institutional structures where what it means to dress professionally can be both explicitly and implicitly defined, they are uniquely positioned to do the “extra” work of “legitimating” the cloth of identity not just for clients, but also for consultants and directors.

Continue reading “CFP–Tensions in Professionalism: Dress Codes in the Writing Center”

WLN News Round-Up for the Month of June

Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

“Managing an anxiety disorder in higher ed is a full time job”- This author discusses their generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and anxiety-provoking assumptions (APAs) in terms of how they directly relate to a career in academia, as well as personal anxiety management techniques that they use. [The Guardian]

“From Learning Commons to Learning Communities”- This article from the American Society for Interior Designers explores how learning spaces can be designed to best fit millennial learners. In particular, the author discusses a “mixed-use learning zone” at the University of Florida. Does anyone have a writing center designed in this way? Let us know in the comments! [Icon]

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“Why Mentoring Others Has Helped Me”- This post discusses how mentorship can be beneficial not just to mentees, but also to mentors. In relation to writing center work, this sentence stood out:

“One wonderful benefit of working with younger students or professionals is that they were more recently in school, and can help keep you current with the latest information, best practices, and new techniques in your industry.”

Within our centers, it is key to consider how tutors can assist in the decision making process when it comes to tutoring techniques and practices, as well as choosing which technologies to use! [Huffington Post]

“Summer Reading List”– As the school year winds down for many of us, we turn to a hobby that often gets neglected during the school year: reading for fun! In this post, Inside Higher Ed contributors share what they’ve been reading lately. [University of Venus]

AUM Collaborates with Student Artists to Create Murals in Learning Center

 

001-Matthew KempEditor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Matthew Kemp, the Writing Student Services Coordinator at the Learning Center at Auburn University at Montgomery, sharing how they teamed up with student artists to create murals in their tutoring space.

A communal coffee pot (or perhaps a Keurig), grammar textbooks, computers, loose leaf paper: things you’ll probably find in writing centers from Texas to Toronto and beyond. Recently in the WCENTER listserv, a question arose regarding ways a new director could decorate his/her center. Of course, there are many ways to answer this question, and many answers were offered: posters, chairs, rugs, paintings, local newspaper articles. However, the suggestion that struck a chord with me was student art. You see, my multidisciplinary center has three large murals painted on our walls, and all of them were designed by students for a Typography course. My center uses these murals as ways to brand ourselves on campus. They represent our mission as well as our values to students, and we absolutely adore them.

AUM LC Mural 2So how did my center come to have these large murals? I can tell you with certainty, it wasn’t originally our plan! A few years ago, my center relocated from a small room in the nursing building to the second floor of our library tower. We filled our new space with the typical items from above. It wasn’t unlike many other centers across the world: computers, funny memes pinned to the walls, pencils, and scratch paper. The idea of murals never entered our minds. That is, until we saw our student phone operator, a graphic design major, working on some homework for her Typography course. The assignment asked students to sketch and alter letters and numbers.  As our center is a multidisciplinary office, the sketches of various letters and numbers seemed to be a perfect way to illustrate what we did. We asked if she thought her class could do a mural in the same vein as her homework. She was delighted at the prospect! So our director contacted the Typography professor and told her our idea.

The professor immediately agreed. She thought it would give her students not only good experience working with clients but also pride in seeing their work become a part of campus. Our office agreed to buy any materials needed, and she agreed her students would paint it. Campus administration had previously told us we could decorate the space as we pleased, so we didn’t even have to fill out forms or requests (this may not be the case at every university; check in with your campus administration about regulations). As our walls were gray, we asked the students to design a black mural. It also needed to incorporate elements of both numbers and text that represented our services. To get a feel for our attitude and work, we linked the students to our campus website and gave them a copy of our mission statement. Continue reading “AUM Collaborates with Student Artists to Create Murals in Learning Center”

WLN News Round-Up: May 10-31

Here is some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

“They Say Every, I Say Any”– Maria Soriano discusses the word choice she uses when talking about college-level writing and the services that the writing center provides. [John Carroll University Writing Center]

“Transparency & Reflection: Why We Write Logs”– This post explains how writing appointment logs about tutoring sessions connects to the core values and beliefs of DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning. [UCWbLing]

DePaul University
DePaul University

“Faking It? Reflections and Regrets from an Occasionally Insincere Writer”– A senior tutor reflects on his own writing during his college career and offers advice to other college students. [Xavier University]

“The Millennial Learners”– For those interested in teaching strategies that will be effective for millennial students, this post lays out some ideas and explains why they work. [University of Venus]

“Syracuse University students hide 155 love letters across campus for finals week”– Students from the organization Campus Cursive wrote and distributed letters across Syracuse University’s campus to help their fellow students cope with finals week. This article is a reminder that we all need to practice self-love and self-care even during busy parts of the academic year, and pass it on to others as well! [Syracuse University]

An Interview with Tracy Santa

Editor’s note: Dr. Tracy Santa’s article on close listening is featured in the May/June issue of the WLN Journal. I asked the director of the writing center at Colorado College to share a bit more of his story and about some of the details his article touches upon.

  • Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and your career in the writing center world?

TracyJune13I attended Georgetown for two years as an undergraduate (pre-writing center academia) and struggled greatly as a writer. I eventually finished a BA and MA in English and creative writing at San Francisco State, fell into teaching in a Bay Area reading program in the mid-1980s, and became curious enough about how to teach more effectively to enroll in the EdM program at Harvard. It was there I was introduced to an entire field of studies previously obscure to me: composition and rhetoric.

While teaching composition at Loyola in New Orleans I was asked in 1992 if I would like to direct the English Lab, a satellite of the WAC Writing Center at Loyola, then directed by Kate Adams. I received a quick education that year in what writing centers could (and could not) do. In 1993 I accepted a position as the Writing Center Director at the United States Air Force Academy, one among the first 16 civilian faculty hired there. The Writing Center at the USAFA was staffed by faculty—a challenging crew, but a great opportunity to have an impact on writing across the curriculum.

In 1997, I took a three year leave from the Academy to direct the Writing Program and Writing Center at the American University in Bulgaria. I went from an all-faculty staff to a peer staff composed exclusively of English Language Learners from six different countries counseling students in an English language medium environment driven by Western rhetorical practices. In my initial semester at AUBG I met Anna Challenger, director of the Writing Center at the American College in Thessaloniki, and we began informally communicating with other writing center directors in southeastern Europe. This informal circle eventually gathered itself into a regional organization coherent enough to petition the NWCA for regional status. At the point this petition was accepted the NWCA became the IWCA, and the EWCA has flourished since under the leadership of European writing center leaders and scholars like Dilek Tokay and Gerd Brauer. I enrolled at IUP during my time abroad, studied with Ben Rafoth, and finished my PhD in comp/rhet in 2005, the year I accepted the position of Writing Center Director at Colorado College.

  • Can you tell us more about your center at Colorado College?

We’ve had a Writing Center on campus since 1981, and the good fortune of Molly Wingate’s dynamic leadership (1986—2001) as the CC Writing Center developed. Thus, the Writing Center had a real history and campus presence when I arrived in 2005. CC has not had a required writing course since 1966—much writing instruction on campus occurs in the Writing Center.

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Continue reading “An Interview with Tracy Santa”

WLN News Round-Up: April 25-May 8

Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

“We Need to Retain Highly Qualified Directors in College and University Writing Centers,” – This petition calls on administrators to end the practice of dissolving writing centers and replacing qualified writing center directors with administrators  who have minimal experience in writing center administration or theory. Sign to show your support! [Change.org]

Joey Pulone for The Chronicle of Higher Education
Joey Pulone for The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A Final Round of Advice for Final Exams” – Because final exams and the end of the school year are fast approaching at many colleges and universities, The Chronicle of Higher Education has compiled highlights from their posts about finals. One of our favorites is approaching finals as a “finale” rather than an exam. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

“‘Something Magical in Meeting with a Group of Like-Minded People’: Graduate Writing Groups in the Writing Center – This post discusses the structure of writing groups for graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then features seven doctoral students who share why they attend the writing groups and what they get out of them. [Another Word]

“Why grad schools should require students to blog”- In this post, Maria Konnikova shares the connections she sees between her academic and popular writing and asserts that academia should more thoroughly embrace non-academic writing pursuits. [Scientific American]

 

WLN News Round-Up: April 11-24

Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

Special announcement!: The Writing Centre at the University of British Columbia was facing closure, but student efforts have succeeded in keeping the Centre open. You can check out our initial post on the UBC closure here and our interview with tutor Cole Klassen here.

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“Streamlining Citations”-  The Modern Language Association is releasing the 8th Edition of the MLA Handbook this month. This article explains some of the major changes and the motivation behind them. Notably, the new edition will include a digital style center. [Inside Higher Ed]

“Is Online Tutoring the Future of Personalized Learning?”- This article discusses the advantages that students who have access to one-on-one learning gain and suggests that online tutoring could be a way to give more students access to personalized learning. While this article focuses on how private companies rather than colleges and universities can leverage online tutoring, it raises important questions about access to educational resources. [EdSurge]

“11 Podcasts for Poetry Lovers”- April is National Poetry Month in the United States! You can celebrate by checking out one of the podcasts in this list. [Book Riot]

Tutoring at Viadrina University

Today’s post comes from Alicja Pitak, a peer tutor at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, where she is pursuing intercultural communication studies.

If somebody had told me a few years ago that I would work in an office or in a unit at a university in Germany, I would have considered this idea crazy. Me, a foreigner in a German unit at a university??? At that time it was hard for me to believe and now it is reality. My name is Alicja, I come from Poland and I am pursuing my masters in Intercultural Communication at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). I feel attached to the university not only because of my studies but also because of the job in the Writing Center (German: Schreibzentrum). I’m writing this blog to present my place of work as well as to share some experience and thoughts on the subject of what the Writing Center is for me and how I perceive the job of a writing tutor.

APitak_FotoI started my job at the university in April a year ago. What does the work as a peer tutor mean to me? Hm… This is my occupation in which I perfect my writing competence and help others in perfecting it. This is just one side of a coin. Actually I treat this job as a wonderful adventure and never-ending meeting with people and exchange of experience, values, smiles and joy. I’m glad to be able to enrich my studies at the Viadrina University and my stay on the Polish-German border in this way.

Coming back to Schreibzentrum where I’m sitting, I would like to pay attention to the atmosphere of work and education which prevails in our team. It is very friendly and unstressful. Thanks to this atmosphere I changed my approach to writing itself. Earlier I thought that writing was an activity in which you put your thoughts down to paper or to the computer screen.

In our Writing Center I understood and experience that this is a process in which a dialog with another person and me is realized. As many of my friends at the university share my earlier approach, I would like to spread my new approach and the atmosphere prevailing in the Center to lecturers, students and other people met in the context of academic or literary writing. I would like others to see this process from another perspective, which can bring them a lot of advantages, not only a positive approach to writing itself, but also perfecting this competence and the joy of creating texts.

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