Announcement | #wcchat 9/14/17 | Join our bi-weekly chats!

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South Haven Writing Center

The start of the academic year is one of the most important times for institutions, including writing centers. Training, routines, and center management become focal points; effective practices in these areas helps foster growth and efficient operations for the center. It’s an important, and sometimes stressful, time for centers, making it a vital topic for discussion for writing center professionals. For this week’s chat, we’ll focus on the role that training takes in starting our academic years, discussing specifically what we do, why we do those things, and what we struggle with in training. Through discussion, we will be able to share ideas for what works for our own centers, as well as offer ideas for others.

~ Kyle Boswell @boskm

Chat norms:

  • Follow the moderator (@boskm).
  • Questions are tweeted out with “Q” and question number.
  • Respond with “A” and corresponding question number at the front of your tweet.
  • Don’t forget the hashtag! #wcchat
  • Use an app that allows you to follow more than one stream. Set a column for #wcchat
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  • Follow those you connected with and/or learned from to grow your PLN.
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  • Focus on quality responses and questions that generate discussions that focus on our writing center practices.

Questions:

  • Q1: Describe the training consultants go through at the beginning of the year.
  • Q2: If you use journal articles for training, what articles do you find most useful? If you don’t, why don’t you use journal articles for training?
  • Q3: What are your biggest concerns during the initial training process? Why?
  • Q4: Describe your strategies for teaching consultation basics.
  • Q5: What initial struggles are most typical for consultants in your center? Why?
  • Q6: What is your favorite training activity? Why is it necessary?
  • Q7: What is your least favorite aspect of training? (Comment ideas for others that might spice up their training methods.)

Writing Centers in China | The Writing Center @BNUZ School of Design | Part 1 of 5

Over the next few months, we will be posting on writing centre work in China. Contributing are 杨雪 Xue (Rachel ) Yang, Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai School of Design; 宋凌珊 Lingshan Song, Writing Center Assistant Director, Mississippi College; Jessie Cannady, Module Convenor Writing Centre, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University; Brian Hotson, Director, Academic Learning Services, Saint Mary’s University; and Julia Combs, Writing Center Director,  Southern Utah University.

杨雪 Xue (Rachel ) Yang is the writing center coordinator at Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai, School of Design.

中文版

We first came up with the idea of establishing our own Writing Center in Spring 2015. We were facing an ever-increasing number of students enrolled who had to grapple with higher expectations in English competency. The program we build at the School of Design focuses tremendously on a globalized education which internalizes its doctrine in preparing students to be more active and engaged global participants through its ever more internationalized guiding themes, curriculum framework, teaching staff, study environment, and exchange program. A heavily IELTS-driven English language curriculum has therefore been introduced. 2+2 program students are required to pass the official IELTS test before the end of their sophomore year so that they can transition smoothly to a collaborative overseas program. 4+0 program students are asked to prove their English proficiency through IELTS as well since starting from the third year, all their design-related major courses will be instructed by lecturers/professors sent from Germany, where English is the main and only teaching language in class. At this point they will have no help from teaching assistants anymore. 4+0 program students will also need the IETLS score report for them to receive the bachelor’s degree from the German university side.

From this description, you can get a sense of how English language proficiency is a matter of life or death for students in our program.

Nearly every instructor in our English language team has some education background in a foreign country, and thus we are considerably excited and revitalized by the Writing Center idea. I did my master’s degree at Boston College which has a writing center that I took huge advantage of. The BC writing center is a sub session within an overarching learning center, which centers on tutoring that covers over 60 subjects, ADHD & Learning Disability Support Services, and writing support. “Writing support” is similar to what we have here at the School of Design Writing Center.

The Writing Center officially launched in September 2016, and we called it the “beta” trial version. We were the first on-campus writing center at our university, basically with no prior experience to build on. Thus, the format of the tutorial, size of student populations we intended to serve, and what kind of tutors we wanted to hire were all tricky problems we encountered. There is no perfection in your first try. What matters is that you do try. Bearing in mind this belief, we decided that the tutorial should follow the format of an ESL writing assistance session. These writing appointments focus on not only helping students formulate their writing ideas, structure and flow of papers, but also checking for their grammatical mistakes. Students are asked to come prepared with drafted writing pieces and attempted problems. Student population size is another thing that is hard to predict. The writing center aims at serving sophomores of international cooperation programs, accounting for over 450 students in total. However, this writing appointment service is on a completely voluntary basis, making the visits tricky to predict. We later agreed on providing 10 available sessions to the students and seeing how things go as time went on. As for recruiting tutors, we soon abandoned the idea of hiring student tutors. Back in early 2015, we did hire some senior student tutors from the School of Foreign Language to help our students with IELTS reading and listening, but it did not end up well. One of the challenges was it was extremely difficult to recruit sufficiently qualified tutors with a proper sense of responsibility and another was that the student tutors’ schedules varied to a great degree which caused unnecessary trouble for scheduling writing appointments.

Throughout the past 10 months, we have accrued concrete records of the Writing Center visits and plan to use these data for further adjustment of scheduling, which parallels the “big data” trend in the Internet environment where information is being densely analyzed for manifold purposes. Through browsing our visit tracking book we can easily see the pattern of student visits: which weeks are the peak visiting periods, which time during the day is mostly preferred, which student groups like to take advantage of this service the most, and which tutors are most frequently booked by the students. Continue reading “Writing Centers in China | The Writing Center @BNUZ School of Design | Part 1 of 5”

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]

How shud we teach students tew write?

my'yah
My’yah tutoring

Editor’s note: Today’s blog comes from My’yah Mitchell, a senior peer tutor at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy Writing Center in Baltimore, MD. Read on for her fun response to “Should Writers Use They Own English?” by Vershawn Ashanti Young.

Why y’all so closed minded? Who y’all think y’all is telling folks how they can or cannot write? If you are capable of understanding what I am saying while speaking in my own language, why should I be forced to write in “Standard English”? For those who don’t know, “Standard English” is the only form of the English language widely accepted as the “correct” form. When I refer to speaking, I’m talking about writing how I speak. For example, I don’t always pronounce erry letter in a word, or I might pronounce a letter differently. If you can understand what it is I’m sayin’ and writtin’, why do I need to write in yo language? As tutors, we should teach students to perfect their own language because if enough students prove that they can write formally in they own dialect, maybe society will began to accept it.

classroom and writing center
The classroom–and writing center!–that My’yah tutors in.

My intention is to explain why forcing students to write in society’s version of “correct English” rather than their own is doing more harm than benefit. I believe that helping students perfect their own dialect would benefit more than forcing them to learn and write what you think is correct. To help support my claim, I reference “Should writer’s use they own English?” by Vershawn Ashanti Young.

When people are forced to learn to read or write a certain way and basically told that their way of speaking is incorrect, they began to feel ignorant: “One set of rules that people be applyin to everbody’s dialects leads to perceptions that writers need ‘remedial training’ or that speaker’s dialects are dumb” (Young 112). This is exactly why y’all shouldn’t be forcing your dialects on others because you make ‘em feel dumb. This could lead to a number of things; people could give up on writing, or people would be forced to write in a way which they are not comfortable in, causing them to fail. All of which could be prevented by helping them perfect they own dialect.

Continue reading “How shud we teach students tew write?”

Fee-Driven Centers

Editor’s note: I was very intrigued by a recent WCenter listserv discussion about writing centers that are funded by student fees. It’s an interesting counterpoint to recent posts on here (“A Story of Volunteers,” “Volunteer Tutors,” etc) about volunteer-driven tutoring. I asked a few directors and coordinators to share their experiences; three responses are below:

JEFFEAGANJEFF EAGAN, California State University

The funding model and institutional organization for academic support at California State University, Bakersfield has changed over the course of my tenure from writing tutor to coordinator for all tutoring on campus. In 2008, the tutoring for all subjects (including writing) was centered in one location on campus and was funded through a Title V grant. After a couple years, NSME tutoring moved from our location and was primarily funded through various grants. In 2011, our campus decentralized tutoring, and each school housed a specific tutoring center(s) in various locations around campus. The thinking behind this was to offer hubs in each school wherein advising and tutoring were available for students belonging to each school; the campus also had a one-stop academic advising center for undeclared students. Our writing center, the Writing Resource Center (WRC) remained in the same location. During this time, I was a first year graduate student working in the writing center as lead tutor.

athletes1As the grant ran out, administration, staff, and faculty started exploring ways to keep the academic support funded, and they decided to assess a student fee to fund the academic support including some support to advising centers. On our campus, all proposals for new student fees must go through a fee committee made up of students. The proposal for the student fee (a portion of the fee funds the writing center and another portion funds the content-driven disciplines) was put forward and approved by the committee and then the president. The fee is assessed quarterly and is used to fund the writing center and other campus tutoring centers. As with any campus, we always aim to engage students through outreach efforts about the resources available to them and the benefits of individualized and group tutoring. During class visits, we are transparent with students about what resources are available to them (academic and non-academic) through their student fees and encourage them to utilize the writing and tutoring centers. I am interested to see how this funding model will hold as we increase our presence and usage on campus.

Continue reading “Fee-Driven Centers”

An Update on PeerCentered!

Editor’s note: It was my pleasure to meet Clint Gardner in person at IWCA this year and hear more about PeerCentered. The Director of the Salt Lake Community College Student Writing Center, he currently serves as Archivist for the Two-year College Association (TYCA) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). On his website, Clint shares that “having worked in writing centers for over two decades, I have learned a great deal about writing center theory and practice, one-to-one instruction, peer tutoring, the role of writing centers at two-year colleges, as well as the uses of computers in composition classrooms and in the writing center. My role as Student Writing Center Director at Salt Lake Community College allows me to teach writing to students from diverse backgrounds, as well as to teach tutors how to respond more effectively to their peers. ” Below, Clint shares more about the past, present, and future of the PeerCentered community!

36222_507314723380_2934617_nPeerCentered started out in 1998 as an online text chat for peer tutors. The concept was simple: allow an online space for peer tutors to continue the kinds of discussions that they were having at conferences such as the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing and other more regionally-based writing center conferences such as the Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference. Initially, the discussions were held weekly, and had a fair number of peer tutor and writing center professional attendees from various institutions around the United States, but we did have one writing center professional join in from Europe on occasion. Time zones do interfere with such live discussions. In the early days, peer tutors did outnumber professionals by a considerable amount—something that would change over time. The live chats were initially held weekly—then monthly—and then finally just a few times a year, mostly due to the difficulty in sticking to such a schedule by the main organizer—me! I fear I realized far too late that I could have turned over the organization and the moderation of the live chats to peer tutors themselves.

After playing around with asynchronous discussion forums which never really took off, I decided to add a blog to PeerCentered as a means of having peer tutors share their experiences in that media with others from around the world. The blog has been moderately successful, given that there have been over 750 postings, and more than 1,100 comments in its 14 year history. PeerCentered averages over 5,000 page views per month, during the typical school year. Contributors have written on a variety of topics ranging from practical tutoring techniques, to more theoretical discussions of how peer tutoring works, language acquisition, or the student’s right to his or her own language, for example.

Continue reading “An Update on PeerCentered!”

WLN News Round-Up

Assistant blog editor, Amber Slater, shares some of what’s on the WLN news radar this week:

College of Charleston and Citadel Writing Centers Connect. The College of Charleston Writing Lab consultants created presentations for their Citadel peers, and the staff members discussed similarities and differences between their two writing centers.  [CofC]

From The Guardian
From The Guardian

It’s the year of the emoji. In the wake of the OED choosing the “face with tears of joy” emoji as the word of the year, this article traces their history and offers a crash course on some key emojis. My question is: have you seen any projects in your Writing Centers using emojis? [The Guardian]

 

Long Night Against Procrastination event celebrates students’ academic work. Dr. Allison D. Carr reflects on Coe College’s first Long Night Against Procrastination event, in which students logged 546.25 combined hours writing, reading, and working together. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

What writing and tutoring-related news do you have to share with us this week? Let us know in the comments!

A Conversation with Ben Rafoth

Editor’s note: Ben Rafoth is the featured reviewer in our inaugural issue of the new format of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship.

Rafoth, Ben 73014D31A leading scholar and author in the field, Ben has been a writing center director since 1988 and shares that “I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had great teachers and awesome students, and the hundreds of tutors I’ve been fortunate to work with in my writing center at IUP have made all the difference.”

He teaches graduate courses in the Composition and TESOL program at IUP, and has served as its director. In 2010, Ben was named IUP’s Distinguished University Professor, a lifetime title and the highest award for faculty at IUP.

The keynote speaker at this year’s International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) Conference in Pittsburgh, Ben was gracious enough to share a few thoughts on his review of Talk About Writing, his upcoming presentation at IWCA, and the general state of the field.

On Talk About Writing and the art of conversation:

Conversation has always fascinated me. It’s so primal and simple but also spontaneous, intimate, complex, adaptable, universal, idiosyncratic, creative, and I could just go on and on here. Conversation as a topic of study has often been overlooked, and so when people like Schegloff, Goffman, Tannen, and others came along in the last century and devoted their careers to the study of conversation, it was very eye-opening, to me at least. In one of Deborah Tannen’s books, she writes about the conversation at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s full of mundane back-and-forth and yet totally fascinating. I like to listen to conversations in restaurants and places where eavesdropping doesn’t get you slapped in the face.

StripeDay
Tutors at IUP celebrating “Stripe Day”

So what Mackiewicz and Thompson have done is bring the disciplined study of conversation to writing center studies. There have been others, but their work lays out the research in a way that invites others to do their own studies, building on previous research. That’s an important contribution – I mean, to write in a way that breaks new ground. I think these authors have done that.

Continue reading “A Conversation with Ben Rafoth”

The Writing Process Abroad: A tutor reflects

Our guest post this week is courtesy of Leanna Jasek-Rysdahl, a peer tutor at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. She shares an anecdote from her time studying abroad–and what it felt like to transfer her writing center skills to a new environment.

On Thanksgiving in Budapest, Hungary, my day consisted of microwaving a sweet potato, Skyping my parents, and helping a student in a two-hour long session. While “seeing” my family was enjoyable, the writing center appointment was by far the most interesting aspect of the holiday, and proved to be one of the most fascinating and challenging appointments I have had to date.

10616670_10152778381083974_6322940345137937058_nIn order to fully understand the Thanksgiving appointment, it is necessary to provide context. Last year, I studied abroad in France during the summer for three months, directly followed by a semester at McDaniel College’s sister campus in Hungary.

These seven months were, without a doubt, the most formative of my life. I travelled to nine different countries and spoke with countless individuals. Whether it was on a park bench in Oslo, a ruin bar in Budapest, or a hostel in Bratislava, the people I met shared their stories with me and collectively changed my view of the world and the people living in it.

Continue reading “The Writing Process Abroad: A tutor reflects”

Tutoring with an International Background

Editor’s note: I recently put out a call to hear the stories and perspective of those that work in our centers who come from a multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-cultural background. I hope you enjoy the following stories from Claudia and Kumar as much as I do, and the way they highlight the important, fostering work writing centers do.

And read part two, now posted!

CLAUDIA QUEZADA GARRIDO
Pursuing a MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan-Flint

Currently I am one of only 3 international students in the English Language and Literature program. I come from Chile, where I got my B.A. in English and Education. As you may have guessed, my first language is Spanish. I learned English at University. While I was in my junior year I was awarded a scholarship to work as a language assistant in the UK. I lived in South Wales for a year, helping High School seniors develop their language skills in Spanish. Until that point in my life, my contact with English had been limited to the classroom setting. Living in a country where the language is actually is spoken is very different.

Continue reading “Tutoring with an International Background”

“(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”

The History of the WLN: an interview with Dr. Muriel “Mickey” Harris

Editor’s note: I asked our fearless leader, Dr. Muriel “Mickey” Harris, to share a bit of history with us, especially for those of us who began directing in the past few years. I’m sure you’ll find Mickey’s responses to be as friendly and informative as I did! Here’s Part One of the conversation (Part Two can be read here.)

IN THE BEGINNING

An informal snapshot of Dr. Muriel "Mickey" Harris
An informal snapshot of Dr. Muriel “Mickey” Harris

The Writing Lab Newsletter began in 1977 as a list of names and addresses gathered after a session at the Conference on College Composition and Composition, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Given that the CCCC planners didn’t expect many people to show up at a session on the little known topic of writing centers, we had a small room in which to gather. But very quickly there was standing room only, and the feeling of delight and amazement was palpable as we all looked around and realized we had colleagues who shared our interest in one-to-one tutoring of writing!

The very first issue!
The very first issue!

As the session ended and people waiting for the next session began filtering in, I grabbed a notepad and asked those who were leaving to sign up, and I’d try to keep us in touch with each other. Needing a name to place at the top of the list, I called it The Writing Lab Newsletter, since “lab” had a “hands on, anything goes” connotation that we liked.

Continue reading “The History of the WLN: an interview with Dr. Muriel “Mickey” Harris”

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!