Words from “The Writers’ Block”

IMG_3177Mary McGlone coordinates the Ward Melville High School writing center in East Setauket, New York. She also teaches English and writing at Suffolk County Community College. 

The Ward Melville High School Writing Center, “The Writers’ Block,” is in its fourth year of evolution, serving a student population of 1,775 in grades 10-12. The writing center grew out of services offered to students in literacy classes, as the literacy teachers sought to reach students in need of support who didn’t qualify for literacy services. The center was originally located in a classroom, staffed by a full-time paraprofessional and two English/literacy teachers one period a day each.

IMG_3173In order to reach a wider range of the student body, the writing center was relocated to a section of the high school library in its third year, 2014. I have coordinated the growth of the writing center since January 2016, as it evolves from its “hidden secret” existence in a classroom to a full-time center based in the school library. We are currently open every period of the school day and after school, staffed by a full-time paraprofessional, a part-time writing teacher, and English teachers who work in the center one period a day for one semester a year; thus, the center is staffed by at least one writing coach per period, sometimes two. This post focuses on the location of our writing center in the school library.

The biggest advantage—and the main reason for relocating the writing center—is that we are centrally located in the building (Everyone knows where the library is!). Students who may not be aware that the writing center exists actually see it in their daily travels. Teachers of subjects other than English (traditionally our biggest supporters come from this department) are grateful that our location is so easy to remember and tell students about. We are physically in the center of the building, close to the cafeteria, so students can find us easily and can arrive early in the period for conferences. Study hall teachers who want to send students to us know where we are, and students can get to us quickly. It is fitting that we are physically in the center of the school, since our goal is to be a “hub” of writing in the school, the center from which writing in various subjects and grade levels occurs.

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Conference announcement! “Directions in Academic Writing: Issues and Solutions”

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Last year’s conference team

The Ninth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia will be held on ​March 6, 2017 at International Christian University in Tokyo.

​The theme this year is ​Directions in Academic Writing: Issues and Solutions.

This symposium provides opportunities for scholars, teachers, students, university administrators, and other professionals to come together to exchange ideas about the role of writing centers in Asian universities as well as the teaching and learning of writing. We welcome a diverse group of participants and presenters from a variety of contexts to join us.

For more details, registration and proposals for papers click here 

Call for Proposals: Special Issue of WLN  

Submitted by Susan DeRosa and Stephen Ferruci, Associate Professors of English Eastern CT State University

Susan DeRosa and Stephen Ferruci are Associate Professors of English at Eastern Connecticut State University. They co-authored the textbook, Choices Writers Make: A Guide (Pearson, 2011), and they have collaborated lately on scholarly articles and conference papers on multimodal writing in the writing center and writing classroom. Their research laid the groundwork for the creation of Eastern’s Writing Center in 2008.

Title: Multimodal Writing in the Writing Center: Relationships, Roles, and Responsibilities

Students are increasingly composing and designing multimodal texts that combine sound, visual, performative, and textual components. Takayoshi and Selfe (2007) argue that students need to be versed in both critically reading and producing multimodal texts “if they hope to communicate successfully within the digital communication networks that characterize workplaces, schools, civic life, and span traditional cultural, national, and geopolitical borders” (3). As writers produce multimodal texts to respond to different rhetorical situations and assignments, writing centers need to find ways to work with students and the texts they design. While writing centers may have experience helping writers who include visual elements in their texts, (photos, graphs, charts, etc.), they may be less familiar with other modes with which writers choose to compose. Recent scholarship suggests a focus on these changing roles and the relationships between writing centers and writing classrooms as we engage with multimodal composers and their choices.

Continue reading “Call for Proposals: Special Issue of WLN  “

Join the WLN team!

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-32-25-pmHi all! I’m excited to put out a call for a co-editor at the WLN blog (http://www.wlnjournal.org/blog/). We’ve had a lot of growth over the past few years, and have reached a point where there’s simply more stories out there than I can tell by myself.
I’m looking for someone down-to-earth, who works well with others, and has a natural, friendly inquisitiveness about what other centers around the world are up to. Familiarity with google doc collaboration is a must, as well as a commitment to keeping in touch on a regular basis (goal is to work smart, but stay on top of things). Above all else, ambition and curiosity are welcome!

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A goal of the blog is to continue to grow in our international scope and highlight the awesome work our colleagues are doing, wherever they are. Interested in joining the team? Shoot me an email at JAmbrose@mcdaniel.edu and tell me why you’d want to work on the project, and some of your story/initiative ideas.

Thanks! I look forward to talking more.

Josh Ambrose (aka Prof A)

Director of the McDaniel College Writing Center

phone: 410.857.2420/Hill 102

Chats and Webinars–an online writing center discussion

In a previous post,  Dr. Sarah Prince and Beth Nastachowski, MA, of Walden University started a discussion about online writing centers. In addition to starting a new discussion group–the OWC email discussion list–they’re happy to share some thoughts about two of their successful online services: chat and webinars.

Because Walden offers its paper reviews asynchronously, offerings like synchronous chat and live webinars not only provide students with supplemental writing instruction but also give them the rare opportunity to interact in real time. The chat service is designed to quickly answer students’ writing questions while they are actively constructing their drafts. In contrast, Walden Writing Center’s bimonthly webinars offer more in-depth instruction on topics ranging from scholarly writing, style and grammar tips, and practical writing skills. Although these services aim to serve students at different points during the writing process, they both were created with the same goals in mind: to provide human connection and real-time writing instruction to distance students engaged in what can often feel like an isolating writing process.

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Chat Service Overview

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-11-17-41-amWe use a live Chat feature through LibApps to give students a chance for live interaction and an opportunity to get questions answered immediately. Our Chat widgets are embedded on our writing center’s homepage and in slide-outs on every page of our website to make Chat accessible in multiple places. Because online students often crave immediate, personalized support, this service’s goal is to reach students who may not be inclined to e-mail us with their inquiry (though our policy is to answer all e-mails within 24-hours) or to try to search through our web content.

Before the current successful iteration of Chat, we piloted chat a few times with limited success. It originated as a pilot called Tutor Talk in the summer of 2013 in a separate platform that was not integrated with our website. It was at one set time each week and targeted undergraduate students only. When this pilot did not gain interest, we opened it up to all students toward the end of 2013, but we still had little participation. Finally, when we discovered that our current platform had the option for Chat, we revisited it in early 2015. We offered it at varying times on varying days of the week, and we also were more intentional with the way in which we marketed it (when we had targeted advertising in an all-student communication, we had better results.) Now, in 2016, we’ve had anywhere from 150 to almost 400 students use the Chat service each month (the numbers vary depending on term starts, student communications and advertising, etc.)

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Honoring Mary Jo Turley

A note from our editor in chief, Dr. Mickey Harris:

turleyIn its earlier incarnation as the Writing Lab Newsletter, the publication was put out through Purdue University, until Purdue ended its connection. But during that time, some of you who subscribed to WLN and/or sent in submissions for possible publication may have interacted with Mary Jo Turley, our secretary, who handled subscriptions, manuscripts, etc. I was saddened to learn that Mary Jo passed away in a traffic accident earlier this month. And while I don’t like to be the bearer of such sad news, I realize that some of you may want to join me in honoring the memory of a truly good woman whose humanity and grace—and sly humor—were constantly present in her work.

After Mary Jo and I both retired, we’d meet around town and always vow that we’d have lunch together soon, but that didn’t happen as often as it should have. Such a reminder of our mortality as well as the need to appreciate people around us—those whom we work with, whom we personally enjoy being with, and whom we depend on to keep on doing the great work that they do.

Introducing the Online Writing Centers (OWC) Email Discussion List

sarah_princeToday’s post comes courtesy of Dr. Sarah Prince, of Walden University. Together with Beth Nastachowski, MA, Dr. Prince is starting a new discussion group–the OWC email discussion list. Today’s post is about the OWC–stay tuned for part two, coming next week, about best practices for online centers!

The idea for the listserv grew out of a SIG we presented at the 2015 IWCA conference titled “Refocusing the Conversation: Creating Spaces for Online Writing Center Community, Support, and Discussion.” After talking through possibilities for community building during the SIG, many ideas were on the table—an annual conference and/or a possible affiliation group within IWCA (much like the current regional affiliations rooted in specific geographic locations). Post conference, to follow up with these ideas, we sent out a survey to all who attended the conference and others at the conference who signed up to receive more information. Based on the group’s voting, it was decided that we would initially start with a listserv, or discussion list, to promote communication about what centers are doing and how we could all better serve students in a fully-online capacity.

Please join us today at the Online Writing Centers (OWC) email discussion list!

We hope that this listserv does in fact start as a building block that generates wider conversations about the state of current online writing centers, common issues among fully online centers, and possibilities for future collaboration among these centers. We would love to see our group gain the support and membership to work toward a separate affiliation under IWCA one day or even create an academic conference around issues specific to tutoring writing in a virtual environment.

We are advocating for further conversations among staff and tutors that serve students online, so we can, as a group, come up with best practices. Because such a community is still in its infancy, perhaps a better discussion would be how we’ve come to the practices that work for our center– through trial and error, gaps we perceived in our services, ideas for conveying information about writing in new ways, etc. In other words, we can talk about how we have a lot of this stuff, in part, because we don’t really have many discipline-wide best practices and, consequently, we’ve had to experiment. Our guess is that other centers are in the same boat, so we’d like to really advocate for a space where important discussions on innovation and new technologies can take place.

Continue reading “Introducing the Online Writing Centers (OWC) Email Discussion List”

SEEKING YOUR RESPONSE: How Are Writing Centers Working Out within Learning Centers?

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-10-32-18-amWLN editor, Dr. Mickey Harris, writes with a special announcement:

More and more writing centers now exist within or are moving into learning centers (or Student Success Centers or Academic Skills Centers, or whatever name they are given), but how are they faring? This complex question needs to be explored from numerous perspectives and by numerous voices, so we at WLN have decided to ask you to identify problems you’re solving and write about positive aspects of existing within a learning center and how you achieved success.

What wisdom, insights, solutions can you pass along to others? What are conditions that could prove to be problematic? Consider your audience as other writing center directors who are wondering how to fit in or improve their writing center and want to learn from colleagues who have clarified problems and found solutions. This will be a collaborative effort of as many voices as we can fit in to an issue of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship.

Please send your 1500-word (Works Cited included in that number) responses to the editors:
Kim Ballard: <kim.ballard@wmich.edu>
Lee Ann Glowzenski <laglowzenski@gmail.com>
Muriel Harris <harrism@purdue.edu>

Continue reading “SEEKING YOUR RESPONSE: How Are Writing Centers Working Out within Learning Centers?”

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: