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]

CFP: Sharing Common Ground? Writing Centers and Learning Commons

Guest Editors: Hillory Oakes and Steven J. Corbett for the WLN Journal

As schools look to develop students as sophisticated communicators across disciplines and media, more and more writing centers are becoming—or considering becoming—part of multiliteracy-focused learning commons enterprises (Koehler; Deans and Roby). In fact, the success of writing center programming has on many campuses contributed to the emergence of the learning commons model. Writing center directors and tutors have a wealth of knowledge to bring to these endeavors: we are natural collaborators and have developed skills and practices that put us in a perfect position to lead conversations about the learning commons at our institutions (Harris, “Preparing”; Lunsford and Ede).

11800171_902887463119022_7738110525106617949_nStill, the history of our field has taught us that we must pay attention to names and titles, definitions of purpose and mission statements, institutional hierarchies and physical locations (Macauley and Mauriello; Mauriello, Macauley, and Koch; McKinney; Salem). These are not niceties but necessities for developing successful programs. Just as defining what a writing center is and is not has historically been problematic (Boquet and Lerner; Lerner; McKinney; Corbett), the definition of “learning commons” currently varies widely between institutions (Oblinger) and at times revisits all-too-familiar territory. For example, writing centers have long rejected being cast as “fix-it shops,” yet now it is common for the learning commons to be touted as a place for “one-stop shopping.”

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How to Start and Run a Writing Center With No Budget, or How We Did the Impossible!

Editor’s note: today’s story comes from Cortney Barko and Melissa Sartore, professors at WVU Tech. Their journey bringing a writing center to campus–only to find the process harder than they first anticipated–is a fascinating one!

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Cortney Barko

We work at West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) in Montgomery, WV. WVU Tech was founded in 1895, and it is now part of West Virginia University—a land grant institution that serves southern West Virginia. Our enrollment currently hovers around 1,200 students. There are 40+ academic programs; however, WVU Tech is well known for its engineering program, and many students come here to major in engineering.

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Melissa Sartore

When we began our tenure-track jobs at WVU Tech in 2011, we found a Writing Center in dire straits. As instructors of History (Sartore) and English (Cronberg Barko), we both knew that a Writing Center was an important resource for students in our disciplines. Very few students were actually using the Writing Center, and the existing tutors were being put through a never-ending tedious training process that ultimately drove them away. By the end of our Spring 2012 semester, our Writing Center was down to one poorly paid tutor who would not be returning in the fall, and hardly any students were coming for tutoring. As a result, we were told that there would be no funding for the Writing Center in the Fall 2012 semester. Essentially, the Writing Center had come to an end.

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