List of Abstracts
Click the links below to view individual titles and abstracts, or simply scroll down for a full list.
- Concurrent Session A
- A1: Individual
- A2: Individual
- A3: Roundtable
- A4: Individual
- Candace Schaefer, Ashley Smallwood, & Nancy Vasquez
- Camille Alexander Buxton & Shanda Guillory-McClure
- A5: Roundtable
- A6: Panel
- A7: Individual
- Concurrent Session B
- B1: Panel
- Caleb James, Allison Holland, Jennifer Adkins-Gordeeva, Veronica Williams, Samantha Scheiman, & Harold Brown
- B2: Individual
- B3: Panel
- B4: Workshop
- B5: Individual
- B6: Individual
- B7: Roundtable
- Concurrent Session C
- C1: Roundtable
- C2: Panel
- C3: Individual
- C4: Panel
- C5: Individual
- C6: Roundtable
- C7: Workshop
- Concurrent Session D
- D1: Panel
- D2: Panel
- D3: Individual
- D4: Panel
- D5: Individual
- D6: Panel
- D7: Individual
- Concurrent Session E
- E1: Individual
- E2: Individual
- E3: Panel
- Concurrent Session F
Concurrent Session A
Friday, 10:30 – 11:45
“Defensive Writing Center Recordkeeping: Saving the Past to Preserve Writing Centers’ Futures”
For over 30 years, writing centers have been a national presence in educating writers. New centers continue to emerge, but recent trends in university governance, the reallocation of educational funds, and cutbacks in hiring practices mean some established writing centers face cutbacks in existing services, forced mergers with other student services, or even closure. One important tool in preserving writing center services is the effective preservation of local, regional, and national records.
This workshop provides an overview of materials in the South Central Writing Centers Association Archive and the Writing Centers Research Project and demonstrates how participants can use those records in making cases for supporting their local services. Individual writing center data collection and the preservation of individual writing center histories are vital to the growth of both the SCWCA and WCRP archive materials, and participants will learn how to properly collect and preserve existing materials, as well as locate or recreate older materials vital to the local and national history of writing centers.
Participants will learn the importance of “defensive” record keeping as a way of validating the importance of their writing center services and will explore various methods of screening existing paperwork and electronic documents for levels of importance, while cutting down on clutter. Activities will include exploring the guidelines for preserving and storing paper and electronic records, as well as the protocols for using and preserving oral histories as historical records and how collaborative relationships with local university personnel can improve a writing center campus visibility.
This workshop demonstrates the importance of the historical records of the SCWCA and WCRP, and how those materials can help participants take an active role in strengthening their local writing centers by creating a personal plan of action for preserving local, regional, and national writing center history.
“The Cathartic Cry: Critical Consciousness in the Writing Center”
“The Cathartic Cry: Critical Consciousness in the Writing Center” elucidates both the theory and the praxis of developing an astute awareness of the social interconnectedness and a commitment to the social progress of the student writer. “The Cathartic Cry” illustrates the significance of integrating Paulo Freire’s theory of oppression and liberation within the realm of the tutor-tutee session. In the safe space of the tutoring session, exploration and dialogue encourages the student to step out of the box to volley the seeds of ideas with the added benefit of the tutor to prod deeper, beyond superficial, stilted, media-saturated arguments. And, as the student learns to permit himself/ herself to explore ideas freely, thus lifting the veil of human experience, he/she invariably comes to the understanding that he/she has much to contribute to academic writing. Thus begins the development of critical consciousness and by extension, prose that is clear, strong, focused and captivating.
“Level Up! A Collaborative Climb to Critical Consciousness”
Currently, the trend for consulting with clients among writing center tutors is the employment of a Socratic method of questioning, which, based upon social constructionism theory, empowers the client to find and use their own personal voice in their writings. Jeff Brooks, in his often referenced article, “Minimalist Tutoring: Making the Student Do All the Work” strongly advocates for an even more hands-off approach to client papers in order to allow the client to take ownership of their own thoughts.
In my presentation, I will show how to adopt a Freirerian approach to tutoring and endeavor to equip students with the tools necessary to reach a level of conscientization and free themselves from the oppression of our current educational system.
I propose that tutors become trained with and aware of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a practical application to Freire. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical model of cataloguing thinking based upon six cognitive levels of perplexity. The purpose of Bloom’s is to think about a topic critically, and gain a higher level of understanding, thus reaching critical consciousness and/or conscientization. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy can assist to assess the client’s prior knowledge of a subject, allowing the consultant and client to collaboratively ‘level-up’ to the next level of the Taxonomy, thereby moving towards conscientiztion.
Carlos Hernandez & Dragana Djordjevic
“Postcolonialism in the Writing Center”
“Postcolonialism” is a field that has recently been receiving increased academic attention. As it is generally understood, the term refers to examining texts in a historical context in which colonialism no longer exists. However, imperialism continues to exist in many parts of the world, often dominating how we approach discourse and linguistics and undermining the idea of postcolonialism itself. Because English is a European language, it is difficult to semantically separate it from its hegemonic cultural past. The difficulty of de-colonizing the Western mind is reflective in discourse studies and linguistic theories, which have practical implications for university writing centers
As a Peer Consultant at the Texas A&M University Writing Center, I am particularly interested in examining how this relationship between language and culture functions in the context of the Writing Center and how we can improve our approaches of peer consulting when working with minority groups, ESL students, and international students to ensure that they are truly improving their writing abilities in English through self-correction. In doing so, one of our goals as peer consultants should be to ensure that we are not privileging English and imposing the values of our culture (expressed through the English language) on people of diverse backgrounds.
Cody White, Tyler Segura, & Georgia Davila
“’Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.’-Tom Peters”
When using a multisyllabic vocabulary with the student, they are apt to assume that you are the all-knowing God and they will be less likely to speak up. There is a wide assumption that the people who use fancy words are automatically “smarter” than their plain-speaking contemporaries. They assume that it is best to remain silent “and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Our goal with this presentation is to find ways to educate the student without intimidating them, and we will explain how to question them in ways that make sure they are not only listening but participating and being involved in the session, rather than agreeing to everything the tutor states.
Candace Schaefer, Ashley Smallwood, & Nancy Vasquez
“Making Connections Across Campus Using Graduate Student Writing Groups”
One of the imperatives at the Texas A&M University Writing Center is to assist graduate students with the proposal and dissertation/thesis writing process. Although we offer one-to-one assistance for graduate students, we have also implemented programs to offer more comprehensive support for students who are writing beyond their coursework, particularly for international students and second language learners. Last year we started offering dissertation/thesis writing groups. Our original idea was to offer the structure that many graduate students need to help them finish their degrees in a timely manner. In addition, we felt that students could benefit from peer mentoring, guided by a staff member serving as a moderator. Students met bi-weekly, shared papers in pairs, and participated in goal-setting activities. Although our first iteration of writing groups were helpful, we experienced significant attrition and found some evidence that students were not always engaged during the peer mentoring sessions. We realized that although much effort was focused on efforts to help students improve their writing and set goals that would move them forward, we did not spend as much time creating community and group support. This year, the groups were re-formed and reconstructed, using tenets of constructivism to integrate whole-group knowledge construction into the sessions. So far, participation has increased, and the students have created a supportive community that is both international and interdisciplinary.
Camille Alexander Buxton & Shanda Guillory-McClure
“Reaching Every Writer: New Ideas in Writing Center Models”
Collaborative Writing Center at Caribbean Universities
Various cultural groups have distinct writing styles, with noticeable differences in the texts produced. In particular, Caribbean undergraduate and graduate students attending tertiary institutions in the U.S. produce texts differently from their American counterparts. There is a perception in academia that Caribbean students’ texts are representative of their colonial status, representing the writing styles of the colonizing nations. However, comparisons between Caribbean student texts and British, French, Dutch, or Spanish students’ texts reveal few style similarities. Caribbean students’ stylistic differences suggest that regional writing is unique. A recent visit to the campus of a Caribbean university revealed that this institution did not offer a program focusing on writing remediation. The goal of this research is to present approaches to shifting current regional writing programs from a “remedial” view of student writing to one of “remediation.” This shift is based on the implementation of an integrated composition program (ICP) and collaborative writing center (CWC). The program relies on Caribbean grammar and writing texts—particularly those addressing the differences between what is considered “standard” and “Creolized” English—and non-regional texts. The long-term goal of this research is to develop viable composition programs and writing centers at four-year Caribbean universities. The composition programs and writing centers could be expanded to regional community colleges. There, writing programs for students entering the business world could be developed focusing on technical and business writing. This proposed research may also generate enough interest in regional composition studies and student writing to extend the composition program into secondary and primary schools.
Jessica Gantt & Jye Shafer
“The In-Credible Balance: Effectively Using Ethos when Connecting with Clients in Peer Consultations”
Theories concerning effective communication skills are countless, yet there is one conclusion that is undeniable: rhetoric is inescapable in interpersonal interactions. In writing center peer consultations, the rhetorical form of the student peer consultants is one of the most delicate, yet significant, aspects of the job. More specifically, the use of ethos to maintain credibility throughout a peer-led consultation that may not always adhere to traditional tutor/student roles (i.e. an undergraduate tutoring a 3rd year PhD candidate) is both a fundamental and daunting task; with only vague, ambiguous guidelines on how to successfully use ethos to construct a balanced relationship between both parties that still supports the simultaneous roles of the tutor as a peer and teacher. Through a critical, in-depth look into the reflections of a writing center’s peer consultants and numerous student users, we can begin to discern how effective tutors achieve this credibility (or how others miss the mark)— insight all writing centers need to know when trying to connect better with our clients.
Frances Crawford & Jon McCarter, & Diane Dowdy
“Connecting to and Reflecting on Certification and Accreditation: Where Do We Go From Here”
During this period of economic recession, educational institutions struggle to gain a larger portion of the student population, to stretch budgets to meet those needs, and to actively evaluate and adjust teaching methods to result in performance excellence. Writing center directors are often under intense pressure to demonstrate their ability to provide excellent value for the funding invested in their units. As members of IWCA, we can reflect on our past and consider the historical processes related to writing center certification and accreditation and connect to our future by considering opportunities for further research.
Presently, no certification processes exist specifically for writing centers, but our second and third speakers will review the choices for training program certification and the differences between them. Our first speaker will review the historical, and often emotional, events and processes related to accreditation and the NWCA, now the IWCA. Our third speaker will discuss the IWCA’s recent exploration into a consultant/evaluation model and how this has been implemented by other organizations.
All panel members will discuss the differences between certification and accreditation by reviewing research, discussing pros and cons of these processes, and considering reasons a writing center might or might not want a certification or accreditation process designed specifically for writing centers. This panel will close by connecting with the audience and giving them an opportunity to reflect on how their centers would be affected by an IWCA certification or accreditation process.
Brady, L. (2004). A case for writing program evaluation. WPA: Writing Program Administration, 28(1/2), 79-94.
Devet, B., & Gactke, K. (2007). Three organizations for certifying a writing lab. The Writing Lab Newsletter, 24(7), 7-12.
Olson, J., Moyer, D. & Falda, A. (2002). Student-Centered assessment research in the writing center. In P. Gillespie, A. Gillam, L.F. Brown, & B. Stay (Eds.), Writing Center Research: Extending the Conversation (pp. 111-131). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
“You Can Go Home Again–One Writing Center’s Journey from the English Department and Back”
The Writing Center at San Jacinto College Central campus began life in the late 1990s as the red-headed step child of the English department. Under-funded, under-utilized and overtly unsupported by the English department powers that were, the writing center eagerly migrated to a new state-of-the-art facility run by the Technology Learning Resources department. No longer fiscally or physically connected to the English department, the writing center eked out an existence as a tolerated-but-misunderstood relative. The director was required to be both writing center director and computer lab supervisor. The position required a master’s degree in English, but it was a staff position rather than faculty. The IT overlords were slow to respond to requests for changes; with twelve dedicated computers, what could possibly be missing? It was through reflection—research on line, enrolling in a graduate course on writing center theory and administration, attending regional and international writing conferences, reaching out to colleagues through the wcenter listserv—that the director’s new blueprint for the center emerged. Currently, more than a decade since its inception, the writing center is back under the aegis of the English department, in an adequately equipped, dedicated space in a central location, an independent (if too small) budget, and the enthusiastic support of faculty and staff. This circular journey was made possible by reflection, which led to forging new connections across the college—a reversal of the original modus operandi of invisible solitude.
“Remaining PC When They Turn Your WC into a TC”
With all connections come complications. How does one remain connected and politically correct in the midst of change -such as the university administration deciding that the Writing Center should be dissolved into a generalized tutoring center? This session will reflect on one coordinator’s experience and perspective one year later; what was done, what was learned, and what the result is.
“Connecting with Retention: A Writing Center’s Response”
While retaining students seems to be a perennial issue at many colleges and universities, the recent economic challenges experienced by institutions of higher learning have focused renewed attention on efforts to keep students enrolled. At Cameron University, one result of that attention was the development of a new program designed to aid students who have enrolled in a zero-level English course twice but not completed the course successfully. When those students enroll for a third time, they must also enroll in English 0111, which requires them to work with a tutor in the Center for Writers one hour a week for the entire semester. While pedagogically sound, the new initiative presented challenges for an already understaffed center. This presentation discusses both the challenges and rewards of a program that did not emerge from the center.
Concurrent Session B
Friday, 1:45 – 3:00
Caleb James, Allison Holland, Jennifer Adkins-Gordeeva, Veronica Williams, Samantha Scheiman, & Harold Brown
“Revision Revelations: Writing Center Tutoring as Recursive Learning”
This presentation explains how tutors at a metropolitan university work with a wide variety of non-traditional students, many of whom are unfamiliar with academic writing. The presenters are graduate and undergraduate writing interns from diverse backgrounds who will discuss the challenges of dealing with client misconceptions about the writing process and how those challenges led to personal growth, enhanced their tutoring skills, and increased their insights into working with underprepared writers in navigating the processes of prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. The presenters will demonstrate how they helped writers improve through multiple stages of their writing processes by using recursive methods, focusing on macro-level concerns, and remaining open to emerging client needs as collaborative conferencing evolved during writing center tutoring sessions.
The presentation will also include a short survey for participants, active discussion of issues related to working with non-traditional writing center clients, and problem-solving activities for audience members.
“Writing in the Sciences: Another Puzzle Piece”
Scientists have their own way of thinking, and not everyone can understand how their ideas came to fruition or comprehend why those ideas are organized the way they are. The linear and methodical way a scientist thinks is a science in itself. In order to get a grasp on how scientists—or students who are studying to become scientists–write, several things must be taken into consideration. The tutor must understand that there is a specific purpose to the way a scientific paper/report is written. Yes, there should be tense shifts between the sections. Words are often spelled strangely, and the writing appears to be of another language. Some portions may be choppy, some will be explanatory beyond ordinary measures, and some may be beautifully written like a novel. Furthermore, interpreting the various citation style guides for the sciences can be a harrowing process. With the right information at hand, tutors can connect with science students and help them put the puzzle pieces together.
“Piecing Together Résumés”
Many students who may be competent academic writers are daunted by the open-ended yet strictly judged documents of the business world, most of all the dreaded, stress-inducing résumé. Many times informational organizations— even some writing centers—will attempt to teach résumés by example alone. Tutors who are unfamiliar with the expectations of the business world may end up scrambling to understand the conventions themselves as they teach from example handouts of résumés. In my presentation, I plan to briefly go over the underlying principles and conventions of the résumé so that the audience, in turn, can effectively teach clients.
“The Aural Experience: Writing about Music for Non-majors”
When undergraduate students take appreciation courses in the arts, there are often writing requirements. Most of these assignments access whether or not students understand basic terminology and stylistic concepts covered in course materials. For some courses, students must review events featuring visual arts, theater, or music; for others they must analyze individual works of art. Either way, the point of congruence between the two is writing about what you see or what you hear. Living in a visual culture, this does not cause so many problems for visually based arts like painting and drama, but it does prove to be challenging for many students. Added to this is the difficulty of focusing on the analytical issues in an art like music that is so visceral in its emotional stimulation. In this presentation, strategies for guiding student writing in negotiating the connections between the analytical and emotional characteristics of music will be discussed. The use of discipline-specific terminology and standard terms that have different uses in music will also be addressed.
Richard Williamson, Nicole Perkins, Nicole Jennings, Sharon Roe, & A.J. Lambert
“Making the Connections: Perspectives and Strategies”
In our panel presentation, we will discuss the following connections that exist in a Writing Center context: connections between tutors and students, connections between tutors, connections between writing centers, and connections between a writing center and the campus-at-large. Following the presentation, we will lead the audience in an activity that will demonstrate the main points of our presentation.
Kylie Novak, Hannah Hardin, & Ashley Stacy
“Getting to Point C While Passing Destinations A and B: Mapping the Course of Creativity”
The focus of this presentation is to comprehensively discuss how to increase creativity within a consultation. In order to get a client to think creatively about their assignment, it is the consultant’s duty to inspire a creative atmosphere. Plagiarism, boring introductory paragraphs and conclusions, and undeveloped ideas are often the result of unharnessed creativity. Even though most students are limited by the rubrics their professors give them, their voice should still be innovative. During this presentation, we will discuss creative strategies such as how to ask open ended questions, how to get the student to look at the paper outside of a grade, and how to inspire continued creative development after the student leaves the writing center.
“Online Tutoring–It May Be Inevitable, But Is It Effective?”
The number of students seeking writing lab help who can’t physically come to a lab, is growing. How do we effectively connect with these while allowing for useful reflection between a tutor and a writer? At the University of North Texas, we have begun using a program called ShowDocument.com. This program allows a tutor and a student to download and share a document, which they can mark up using a toolbar, while simultaneously chatting about the paper being reviewed. However, is the online tutoring experience as useful to students as a face-to-face tutorial? Is the level of improvement in a student’s work as great as it with a face-to-face tutorial?
To answer these questions, I will
- Compare written transcripts of online tutorials with recorded transcripts of face-to-face tutorials to identify how much useful information is shared.
- Compare the draft of a student’s paper reviewed during both an online and a face-to-face session, with the student’s revision of that paper based on what he she learned from the tutorial.
I hope to understand the effectiveness of online tutoring as an alternative to face-to-face tutoring. Many arguments in favor of online tutoring exist—it alleviates space issues; it accommodates students who are not able to be physically present, it makes tutoring more readily available outside the standard 8-5 work day. However, if online tutoring is not effective as a means of helping students improve their writing, are these arguments enough?
“Connecting with the Disconnected”
Many writing centers are looking for an easy and cost effective means of conducting synchronous online tutoring sessions. This presentation will give a demonstration of a synchronous online tutoring session using Skype as a means of communication. After the demonstration session, tips and suggestions will be offered to writing centers that either already have a synchronous online tutoring system or are looking to create one from scratch. This presentation will highlight the issues that have been encountered in creating SHSU’s synchronous online tutoring program and will reflect on how this has changed the way we handle online tutoring sessions. While we believe synchronous online tutoring will never completely replace face to face tutoring sessions, we believe that writing centers should be prepared to embrace this new, emerging technology to better serve their writing center communities.
“Tulsa Community College OWL: An Experience in Collaboration and Creativity Among Multiple Writing Centers”
Tulsa Community College is comprised of four campuses, each housing its own writing center. While the values and goals of the college are mirrored throughout each campus, the writing centers have their own unique professionals, space, and resources. The centers readily share information and resources, but the unique settings of each center and the needs of each campus’s students and faculty create different tutoring environments. One trend persistent among each campus has been the need for viable resources that aid in strengthening students’ reading and writing skills while also meeting the demands of increasingly busy lifestyles and the growth of distance learning. Many of the resources available in the writing centers are outdated and unavailable to distance learners. Therefore, the TCC writing centers began exploring other options but consistently encountered barriers in meeting students’ needs both academically and financially. Unsatisfied with the available options, the centers started looking within the college for a solution.
In 2009, the writing centers were awarded an internal grant funding collaborative efforts in the development of online resources available to all TCC students, faculty, and staff. The collaboration resulted in the TCC Online Writing Lab (OWL). Like other OWLs, we incorporated handouts and PowerPoint lessons, but we also created interactive tutorials using a lesson-building software called SoftChalk.
This paper will address the issues discussed above, the collaboration of TCC writing labs, and the resulting OWL website. We will highlight the experience of collaboration and demonstrate the creative resources resulting from our combined efforts and knowledge.
“The Writing Center as a Woman’s World: Providing the Necessary Tools that Enable Connections Within Writing.”
It is not uncommon to find a woman as a writing program administrator, nor is it uncommon to find a majority of female tutors working in a writing center. Women are powerful forces in writing programs across the United States. University of Houston- Clear Lake’s own writing program director, Dr. Chloe Diepenbrock, has been a very influential figure in the Humanities Department. Her ability to empower her students’ voices by connecting them to a love of teaching composition and rhetoric has inspired me to look for other powerful women who serve as both directors and professors. Drawing from the books “Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition” by Michelle Ballif, Diane Davis, and Roxanne Mountford and “Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition” by Andrea Lunsford, I have found an enormous amount of research to support the idea that women possess the strength and ability to teach literacy. Women’s contributions to teaching writing are vast and wide-ranging. I will explore these contributions and explain how they are critical tools to successful tutoring experiences. I will answer the questions: Without women, would connections in writing centers take place? Would writing centers exist and thrive if it were not for the women who make them what they are today? The idea of women as caretakers, nurturers, and matriarchs in writing center programs is an idea that deserves recognition and exploration.
“From “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” to “RuPaul’s Drag Races” : Everything I’ve Learned About Directing a Writing Center, I’ve Learned from Watching Reality TV”
As writing center directors, we have to do it all– master the political machinations of a university, work miracles with minimal budgets, design aesthetic work spaces in addition to grounding our writing center practices in sound pedagogical theory all while facilitating an atmosphere of mutual respect and collaboration among consultants, clients, and staff. In order to manage all this, directors often rely on our instincts of working with others, or perhaps rely on past experiences gained prior to entering the world of academia. Where do we turn for information and advice when our instincts fail or our experiences prove ineffectual? I suggest writing center directors look to the sage advice gained from reality TV.
In this presentation, I will take a light-hearted look at how various reality TV shows based on the service industry and creative competitions have helped me to objectively reflect on my management style and have helped me to become a more effective writing center director. While reality TV is really just entertainment, it can help writing center directors see what they have to do in order to “make it work.”
Katie Crowder & Kristinna R. Carlson
“Starting a Conversation Group for International Students through a Student Writing Lab”
Word of Mouth is a conversation group for international students. I would like to present a round table discussion about how to start and maintain a conversation group for international students through a student writing lab. We will discuss everything from the logistics of setting it up to the guidelines for a conversation group as well as topics and themes for discussion. In order to provide a realistic portrayal of this project, we’ll also include the challenges we’ve faced with regular student attendance and recruiting new participants. This is a pilot program so it is a work in progress.
Concurrent Session C
Friday, 3:15 – 4:30
Jackie Johnson & Nicholas Miller
“Be a Tool: How To Utilize Your Coworkers As a Valuable Resource”
As consultants, we each have our own individual tutoring styles, so we know there are many methods of teaching. Is your way of tutoring the only way for you, or could you benefit from learning your coworkers’ approaches to consultations? Interacting with more of our coworkers regularly will give us opportunities to share our positive and negative consulting experiences. We can collaborate each consultant’s strategies and styles into an open resource for our centers. This principle of sharing is already used in writing centers to some degree; consultants casually talk to one another about tutoring sessions, and writing center employers have evaluations of consultants. However, the formal relationship between employer and employee may discourage consultants from being open about their shortcomings. It is important for consultants to build relationships with many of their coworkers to gain a variety of perspectives on consulting. Creating a purposeful learning environment, whether in weekly meetings or more casual settings, will contribute to diversity and a constant application of new methods. Specifically, this allows consultants to share experiences on working with particular clients, assignments, and situations. This also helps consultants better prepare for consultations beforehand; having background knowledge on a client or assignment prior to a consultation will both save time as well as help the client progress further in a single session. Building intentional relationships with a variety of coworkers will be invaluable to the staff and clients alike. We are each a resource to one another—so let’s make good use of these tools!
Sravani Hotha, Sam Cosby, Amanda DeFrance, & James Benton
“A Passionate Gateway: The Use of Hobbies to Better One’s Writing”
Successful writers understand that they write best in a certain mindset and a certain environment. This “zone” is unique for every writer, shaped by individual experiences, preferences, and tendencies. Though beginning writers may not be able to get into the “zone” as quickly as experienced writers, most have a hobby or activity that allows them to acheive that level of focus. As writing center tutors, part of minimalistic tutoring is to help the writer to find their own “zone.” Therefore, if we help the client connect the meditative mindset from a hobby to the writing process, they may be able to view the writing process in a more fulfilling light. Writing then goes from being an assignment to an activity they will enjoy. The trick is in helping them link writing to an activity that puts them into that special focus that athletes and performers of all sorts refer to as “the zone.”
“Why Connect?: Building Rapport in the Writing Center Tutorial in Order to Empower Students to Reflect Upon Their Writing”
In order for a successful tutoring session to occur, a connection must be made between the tutor and the student. When a bond is formed, the tutor is able to equip the student with the skills needed in order to become an independent writer and editor. Elizabeth Boquet, in Noise from the Writing Center, proposes that “tutors are placed, on a daily basis, in impossible positions” (20). A tutor faces many challenges when approaching a session such as disposition, preparedness, race and age of the client. The tutor must be able to quickly assess the situation and attempt to connect with the student in some way in order to overcome obstacles. I will suggest some avenues a tutor may take when faced with a new client. I will discuss some of the struggles involved in tutoring various types of students and offer possible solutions for how to create a copasetic environment. I assert that it is from collaboration in the tutoring session that a student is able to learn the art of writing and editing. In this presentation, I will visit this notion and explain the ideas of Kristin Walker and Jeff Brooks on how to improve tutoring techniques in order to build rapport. Writing is a process, and so is tutoring. Every tutoring session is a surprise: a new experience, a new adventure.
“Collapsing First Year English and Writing Center Borders: Establishing a Praxis of Communal Writing Spaces and Common Writing Goals”
This presentation looks at the connections between writing center tutoring and First Year English (FYE) teaching, while reflecting on the common, fundamental goal of “better writing,” and seeks to close the gap between writing for the classroom and visiting what many call a “writing clinic.” While FYE programs explain the benefits of writing centers, they often subversively undermine students’ reasons for going to and experiences of the writing center by implying that it is an addendum to classroom success. By suggesting or requiring that students visit writing centers to “get help” or to “work on” a paper, FYE instructors undermine the writing process by implying that writing center help is a means to an end for the classroom and not a part of the more global writing process that continues after students leave college. While this certainly is not the intention of any FYE program, changing the rhetoric of inclusion of the writing center in the FYE experience will help establish a more complete and communal space (evoking Wenger’s “communities of practice”), in which students develop lifelong writing habits. Echoing Mark L. Waldo’s proclamation about the roles of writing programs and writing centers, this presentation will suggest the need to shift the discourses and structures of FYE and writing programs from one of accompaniment and support to a more holistic and symbiotic relationship that melds writing environments with the goal of producing better writing.
Britney Menconi & Cresta Bayley
“Vaulting Over Barriers: Overcoming Cultural and Emotional Barriers in the Writing Center”
Connecting with students is important for the success of a one-on-one writing conference. If tensions exist in the student’s emotional life or if their individual cultural issues are not addressed, the student might not be able to get any work done. Overcoming cultural and emotional barriers are essential in making the tutee feel comfortable and ensuring that a substantial amount of learning is taking place. By reflecting upon available literature that focuses on emotional and cultural issues which might impede communication, we will provide tutors with the necessary information to make students more at-ease during a writing conference. By vaulting over these barriers to learning, tutors can provide their tutees with a productive and reassuring writing center experience.
Ashley Campana, Trisha Suhr, Robert Redmon, Whitney Kindinger, Vicki Starr, & Ashley Boyce
“Finding our Writing Center: the search for identity amid mis-perceptions”
Writing center identity represents one of the most enduring lines of inquiry in our work, and the purpose of this research project is to describe a relatively new center’s efforts to promote a more progressive self-image. Midwestern State University has provided tutoring for several years; however, the model used has relied upon graduate tutors providing very limited access, and the focus has been on correcting papers. This semester, for the first time, we have an interdisciplinary group of tutors; we have expanded our hours, added a second lab, and most importantly, we have begun to theorize more seriously the purpose and practices of a responsible writing lab. In particular, our nascent center is inspired by Stephen North’s call to improve writers rather than texts. The panel of graduate tutors will present research that reflects their efforts to understand the institutional context and promote awareness about the writing center’s mission. Surveys conducted in October suggest two unexpected trends: those who know about the writing lab but describe it primarily as an editing service, and those who do not know the center exists but define it in line with our own philosophy. The presentation will explore the variations of perceptions and describe our attempts to raise more authentic perceptions of our identity.
“Disabilities in the Writing Center”
I am working on recording tutoring sessions with students and tutors with disabilities which I will then analyze and present the results of a qualitative analysis of these tutorials including interviews with participants. I very much hope to be able to record some tutoring sessions with tutors with disabilities because as far as I know, no study has done this so far.
“Reaching Out: Connecting with the Deaf”
As can be expected, Deaf persons often struggle with academic writing, due not only to issues arising from language barriers, but also cultural barriers resulting from the fact that they do not have the same access to mainstream culture through music, radio, colloquialisms and references to popular culture. Dr. Rebecca Day Babcock, who has done much research on deaf students in the writing center, says that although deaf students do not often visit writing centers, they are “much more direct about the type of help they want than hearing students.” Still, according to an interview with Alicia Martin , head of all deaf services at the University of Oklahoma, many of the deaf students enrolled here, none of whom visit our writing center, do in fact struggle significantly with their writing.
Thus, there are three questions that I wish to answer through my research: one, why are these students not visiting the writing center; two, how can we connect with these students, and encourage them to use the provided resources; and three, how can we best help them once we have made that connection.
In order to answer these questions I intend to gather more statistics concerning the number of deaf students attending hearing universities, and how many of these students make use of resources such as writing centers and tutors. I will continue my previous research on challenges faced by deaf students in academic writing, including not only grammar, but also the cultural differences. I will then propose methods of helping deaf and d/Deaf students to over-come these challenges through writing center practices modified to address the students’ specific needs.
Joseph Johnson, Monica Davidson, & Allison Holland
“Writing Centers and Student Needs: Working With Autistic Writers”
Learning styles shape writers’ approaches to the learning process. Tutors face interesting challenges when working with all writers, but the unique challenges of working with autistic writers or those with related learning challenges can be enhanced when tutors understand the unique needs of autistic writers. Several perspectives will be presented, from working with autistic clients and interns, to viewing the writing center through the eyes of a person with the diagnosis.
The presenters will discuss how an autistic tutor brought new understanding to the tutoring process in a metropolitan university and how autistic clients and interns can interact more effectively in all writing centers.
The presentation explores how autism affects the writing process and how clients and tutors alike can benefit from a better understanding of the writing processes of autistic writers and how that understanding can enrich the learning experiences of both writers and writing center tutors.
Deborah Rankin, Kathryn Fischer, & Kathleen Strain
“Generalist vs. Specialist Tutoring in the Writing Center”
This roundtable will focus on discussing the benefits and complications of generalist vs. specialist tutoring in the writing center. The practice of nondirective tutoring positions tutors as general guides rather than disciplinary authorities. Even so, when a tutor comes to the writing center with specialized disciplinary expertise, it is often the practice (whether formal or informal) to pair the tutor with students who are writing in that tutor’s discipline. What does this practice say about our views of generalist and specialist tutoring? Does specialist tutoring tend to focus more on content? Does generalist tutoring neglect disciplinary conventions and ways of thinking?
The facilitators will introduce the session by very briefly describing their institutional context and defining how they will use the terms “generalist” and “specialist.” Following the introduction, the facilitators will use hypothetical writing center scenarios to guide a 30 minute discussion about generalist and specialist tutoring, encouraging participants to consider own contexts. After the group discussion, participants will divide into small groups or pairs according to institutional context in order to generate ideas about the best ways to use generalist and/or specialist tutoring in their centers. Finally, the whole group will reconvene to share ideas and exchange email addresses in order to continue the discussion.
Paula Doan & Elizabeth Tuma
“OWLs on Cloud Nine: Using Cloud Computing to Add Grounded Practices to E-Tutorials”
As more universities offer classes to distance students, the need for interactive and effective e-tutoring sessions becomes critical to students’ successes. Though many campuses offer tutoring over the web, the programs and methods seem to fall short of face-to-face sessions due to inefficient interfaces that reduce expectations or hinder pedagogy. By using GoToMeeting.com®, an interactive cloud-based conferencing program, University of Houston-Downtown students may talk in real-time with a tutor, share papers through the easily navigated software, and maintain control of papers with their preferred word processors. GoToMeeting.com’s® VoIP audio and screen-sharing allows writing centers to maintain minimalistic social-constructionist practices that empower students in the same manner as a face-to-face tutorial. With little to no investment for the student and minimal financial impact to the writing center, GoToMeeting.com® makes the e-tutorial a cost effective way to reach distance students and other student populations marginalized by time constraints or logistical concerns. We plan to show the benefits of using this program, and to discuss the challenges, rewards, statistics, and best practices of successful online tutoring.
Concurrent Session D
Friday, 4:45 – 6:00
Deborah Rankin, Caroline Kuyumcuoglu, & Lorena Knight
“Connecting the Dots: A reading and writing center model that promotes ongoing student success through collaboration”
This session addresses the question of how reading and writing centers can work together to connect with students throughout their academic career and promote student success. Although services at most reading and writing labs are usually available to all students regardless of level and/or writing experience, center directors, staff, and tutors need to decide on who the center will primarily serve, what their main purpose will be, and whether they will be responsible for the development of remedial students. These decisions tend to be quite cumbersome when budgets are limited, resources are scarce, and space is tight; however, it is possible to create a lab system where reading, writing, and learning centers work together collaboratively to connect with students at every level of their academic career and promote student success and retention.
The three panelists will describe how the five reading and writing centers at their community college (Cooperative Learning Center for English and Reading, The Reading Lab, The Advocacy Center, The College-Level Writing Center for English, and the Writing Across the Curriculum Lab ) support students throughout their time at the college, from developmental reading and writing courses, to college-level composition and other English courses, and through college-level courses in other disciplines. Each center offers unique services to students, but all centers work together by sharing staff, resources, and the responsibility of ongoing tutor training. Panelists will discuss both the benefits and challenges of such collaboration
Kellye Manning, Jared Inting, Daniel Price, & Beverly Roberts
“Idiosyncratic Knowledge as a Teaching Aid: Letting the Student Educate the Tutor”
People who struggle with writing often believe they are not as smart as “everyone else”; if they belong to a minority, or micro-culture, that perception is frequently compounded. One way to challenge an individual’s negative self belief is to tap into something that he or she knows well or in which he or she has an avid interest. Most people have some area in which they are knowledgeable; this may be a hobby, a skill, or an activity. In the case of a minority that expertise may even be the micro-culture of the individual. Allowing the student to become the teacher for part of the tutorial puts the student in the position of authority which ultimately leads to a smoother flow in the tutorial because of the student’s improved confidence in writing and focus on the process.
“By the Book(s): The Social-Epistemic Rhetoric of Writing Styles”
Tutoring students from various disciplines requires tutors to have some understanding of various standardized writing styles – APA, MLA, ASA, Chicago, Turabian. Unfortunately, most tutors are familiar with only one or two of these styles, and, if they’re asked about the others, they can refer the student to a workbook or a handout with explicit instructions and examples. While these instructive materials can help with page-formatting, in-text citation, and other surface features of the students’ texts, they cannot help the students understand the values implicit in each writing style.
My paper will argue that the most important function of writing in a specific standardized writing style is to convey evidence of paradigmatic thinking. I want to address the idea that standardized writing styles contribute in subtle yet significant ways to notions of and rhetorical expressions about epistemological certainty that vary between the different discourse communities that comprise different academic disciplines. All this is to suggest that writers enculturated into a discipline with a certain set of values learn not only to write according to those values, but to think according to those values. I want to explore some of the implications of this. In praxis, tutors may want to familiarize themselves with how the most commonly used standardized writing and citation styles reflect the values of the disciplines that adhere to these styles so they (the tutors) can help shape more than just the format of the text in the body of the paper or the citations on the reference page.
“The Principal of Autonomy: Applying Medical Ethics to Writing Center Practice”
The principle of patient autonomy is a vital issue in medical ethics, just as student autonomy is vital to writing consultations. In this presentation, I will explore the benefits of student autonomy, the balance of power between writing consultant and student, the danger of compromising autonomy, as well as the occasional necessity of doing so. Using William Carlos Williams’ short story “The Use of Force” as an example, I will discuss the boundary between helping the student and forcing the tutor’s opinion into the student’s paper, different ways of compromising autonomy, and how writing center practice necessarily diverges from medical ethics.
“The Concept of Audience: Teaching Theater Theory to Help Students Strengthen their Writing”
One of the biggest problems we see among students who seek help in writing centers is the inability to understand the concept of “audience.” Through a partnership with the theater department, writing center professionals can develop a curriculum to help students to internalize this concept through routine acting exercises. This presentation will explore the ways in which such a synergy can be productive. Session participants will be taught a number of theater “exercises” and then broken into groups so that the participants will be able to learn first-hand the value of theater exercises in teaching the concept of “audience.”
Brittany O’Sullivan, Jackson Brown, & Stephany Mendoza
“Breaking the Barrier: Helping Marginalized Students Acclimate to University Life”
For several semesters, writing tutors at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) have worked with international students to help them improve their English speaking and writing skills. During the Fall 2010 semester, we expanded this tutorial program in order to help further acclimate these students to the university community, both academically and socially. To this end, SFA writing tutors have planned and conducted fieldtrips for international students that fuse academic concepts, such as analysis and interpretation, with the culture of East Texas. In addition, we have added themes to our weekly conversation practice groups with these students that address differing aspects of foreign and local culture. This panel session will present our findings on the benefits and challenges of helping international students become accustomed to an American academic and social environment while recognizing these students’ own cultural backgrounds.
Cindy Burkhalter & Katie Jones
“SMART Trac: How an Internal Software System Can Help Students Map A Right Track”
Administrators of college writing centers are continually exploring new connections and evaluating current ones in an effort to effectively meet the needs of students. To aid with this goal, writing centers utilize systems to manage the data they collect, oftentimes software programs. For the past year, Angelo State University has been participating in a collaborative project to create a more cohesive tutoring system. The Writing Center, the Math Lab, Supplemental Instruction, the Tutor Centers, and the Modern Languages Lab are working with the Informational Technology Department in the development of a software program called SMART Trac. The interpretation of SMART Trac data will help each tutoring unit to evaluate internal practices in order to serve students in new and better ways. The potential for this partnership, however, extends beyond the walls of any single tutoring unit. In this paper, we argue that sharing SMART Trac data and reports with other campus tutoring units, faculty, academic advisors, and administrators will lead to new collaborative efforts which will enhance the quality of services we, as a university, provide to students. The teamwork between the Writing Center and other tutoring units is already leading to the development of new programs and improved practices. We predict that sharing SMART Trac data with academic departments will assist faculty in evaluating teaching practices and assessing departmental programs. We also predict that data shared with academic advisors and university administrators will strengthen the university’s efforts to provide academic services which, ultimately, improve student learning outcomes and retention.
“Connecting the Dots: Using our data for meaningful assessment and research”
How to measure writing centers’ effectiveness is often a daunting, elusive task. We have numbers and we have stories, but how can we truly show the nature of our work? How can we assess student learning outcomes? As we struggled to answer these questions in a meaningful way, we redesigned our data collection to measure learning outcomes and also provide research possibilities. This session will demonstrate how the Sam Houston Writing Center collects and analyzes data from one-on-one tutoring sessions for assessment and research. Some preliminary findings on student engagement, required visits, and student learning outcomes will also be discussed.
“Connecting with the Bean-Counters: Gathering and Sharing Data that Reflects on a Writing Center’s Success”
It has been more than a decade since Neal Lerner reminded readers of The Writing Lab Newsletter that “Counting Beans and Making Beans Count” (1997) could make university administrators more aware of the value of writing centers and the work they do. Unfortunately, despite Lerner’s continuing efforts to interest writing center professionals in statistical evaluation of their center’s work, he has remained one of few voices in a writing center wilderness of unexamined data. To be sure, a handful of other articles on assessment and evaluation by such authors as Jim Bell, Peter Carino, and Jaime Hylton have advocated gathering and analyzing writing center data, but these authors usually focus on gathering data to evaluate client satisfaction, rather than gathering data designed to demonstrate the center’s value to the university itself. As more writing centers use online scheduling and record-keeping programs such as WCOnline and TutorTrac, writing center professionals can more easily gather accurate and easily accessible data that they can use to compare the success rates of writing center clients with those of students from comparable cohorts who eschew writing center assistance. This presentation seeks to provide writing center administrators—and tutors—with tools and tutelage to assist them in determining what data they should collect, how to evaluate that data, and how to present it effectively to administrators. It will also present an overview of an ongoing retention study at a large state university and university administrators’ response to that study.
Marie Hendry, Maia Butler, & Kelly Naughton Mastbaum
“’Newbies’ Reflecting and Connecting: ESL, Facebook and Metacognition”
In this panel, two new tutors and their new director discuss the important issues, within a critical framework, that they are currently facing as “newbies” in the writing center.
ESL Theory for a Multimedia Atmosphere
“Suggested reading” files should contain materials to assist tutors with effectively serving ESL clients of the Writing Center. Though there has been a wealth of publications on ESL issues, in order to provide effective service to these clients, this paper reflects on proven theory to connect it to modern practice that can be adapted to the current multimedia writing atmosphere.
Phobias and Facebook Fans: A New Director’s Outlook on Technology in the Writing Center
Critics, such as Paul Carino, have all argued on the pitfalls of technology in the writing center. Yet, technology is an important tool in reaching students across the curriculum. As a new director, mitigating on-line presence and comfortable tutoring atmosphere are a particular challenge. My paper argues my attempts to reconcile my own technology phobias with new networking sites within the current pedagogical mindset of technology in the writing center, outlined by Irene L. Clark and David Coogan.
Metacognition: Practice and Communication in the Writing Center
When formulating effective writing models, new Writing Center tutors must recognize the importance of communication which can help to identify successful learning strategies. This paper will examine a variety of learning tools meant to strengthen the students immediate and overall rhetoric development by being aware of how communication stimulates skillful writing.
“Writing Back: Tutors Connecting with Students in Online Tutoring”
As Hewett (2010) points out, there is, as yet, “no set standard” (p. xv) for the practice of online tutoring. Tutors are often creating the guidelines as they work with papers. It is time, however, to begin to study: to follow Hewett and look at what we are already doing, encourage what works, and revise what may not be so helpful.
Our writing center offers a synchronous online tutoring. The procedure involves four steps:
1) students access the avenue to tutoring via the center’s website,
2) students send in their papers with information about the assignment and their specific writing concerns,
3) tutors respond to the papers using the comment function in Microsoft Word, and
4) tutors return the papers including a) a standard response that accompanies each submission and b) a note from the student from the tutor.
This paper presents an examination of 4) b, the notes from tutors to students, looking at them as a point of connection between the tutor and student. This analysis, in an effort to provide an informative reading, takes a sociolinguistic and rhetorical approach, analyzing the notes as discourse events with unique discursive profiles.
The purpose of this paper is both descriptive and prescriptive, intended to both highlight salient linguistic and rhetorical features and identify positive strategies so that tutors might make more informed choices about how they write to students.
Hewett, B. (2010). The online writing conference: A guide for teachers and tutors. Boynton/Cook Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH.
“An Ethos of Hospitality in Writing Centers”
Hospitality in Writing CentersWriting centers are post-modernism in action! They break down barriers of position and status; they serve the full diversity of a college or university’s population; and the work itself ranges from remediation to collaboration on publishable scholarship. As such, writing centers can be in jeopardy of becoming sites of fragmented tasks or they can be havens for “connection and reflection” for all members of a college/university community.
An ethos of hospitality assures that writing centers allow staff and clients alike to “connect and reflect” with each other and the sectors they represent. Interestingly, even though writing centers are typically known for their warm, welcoming practices, writing center scholarship has not thoroughly theorized this ethos of hospitality. I attempt to contribute to this conversation by borrowing from the literature of critical theory and composition studies to supplement existing writing center scholarship. Following the lead of Haswell, Haswell and Blalock’s “Hospitality in College Composition Courses,” (CCC 60:4 707- 727), I examine and apply the theoretical constructs of hospitality to the structures and practices of college/university writing centers. Elizabeth Boquet’s question whether the writing center is primarily a space or a temporality provides the entrance into further questions of the roles of the host and the guest, the relationship between the notion of the stranger and the notion of “other,” and the practical challenges of living within an ethos of hospitality.
“’Comp It’: Tutoring Approximate Diction”
“No matter how often my mom explained why I should live at home rather than in a dorm room, I couldn’t comp it.” The word comp here is an example of diction that seriously disrupts meaning although its writer was confident he had chosen the right word because it sounded right.
Writing tutors are trained to meet writers at the point of need but are not always sure how to do that. We sometimes look at sentences and almost understand what their writers mean, but not what causes the bad word choices they make. This problem—where we can guess what the writers mean because of a similarity in sound or associations—is what I call approximate diction. It is close enough that we can understand what the writer intends, but far enough off that it disrupts meaning and therefore clarity. Teachers and tutors alike are bamboozled about why writers make such a bad choice and struggle to show them what to do about it. It’s a problem rampant among first-year students that diminishes as writers gain experience. Approximate diction starts to go away almost as soon as the writers recognize what they are doing to create it, but for tutors, getting them to see that is challenging.
After presenting examples and results of research into the frequency of the problem in student writing, I will discuss the causes and some strategies for helping writers recognize and overcome approximate diction.
Concurrent Session E
Saturday, 9:00 – 10:15
“The Writing Center as a Node in the Business of Academia”
Jeffrey Pfeffer , author of the recently published and much discussed “Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t” has made some counter-intuitive claims about power in the business world. Most surprisingly, he argues that competence doesn’t necessarily translate into maintaining a position of power. Pfeffer gives several examples of powerful CEOs who were terrible at leading their companies—men like Bob Nardelli of Home Depot, who was given around 200,000,000 to resign, but who bounced back almost immediately to become the leader of Chrysler, only to oversee its bankruptcy. Pfeffer offers the astounding statistic that “CEOs who presided over three years of poor earnings and led their firms into bankruptcy only faced a 50% chance of losing their jobs” (Schumpeter 80). The two qualities that Pfeffer maintains are more important than competence in achieving and holding onto power are “drive and self-confidence” (80). Additionally, an ambitious businessman must be canny about selecting just the right department: the ideal is one that pays very well and that also seems to be popular or “on the rise”(80). Once established within this nook, one must remember the following: (1) to “manage upwards”, (2) to become a “node” or a locus of activity for a whole network of departments (3) to demonstrate loyalty. Pfeffer’s claims about success and power in the business world translate surprisingly well to the world of writing centers. In particular, his insights into the importance of departmental relationships, loyalties, and reputation are highly applicable to developing a successful writing center as a place of business within the world of academia.
“A Career in the Writing Center:
Entering Academe through the Back Door”
Most of those who have worked for decades in writing centers arrived at this career path without any clear intention. At conferences, especially during whispered conversations between old friends, one hears stories of those who set out to be Medieval scholars or best-selling novelists but somehow discovered their real love—or real talent—lay in mentoring student writers one by one. Once someone develops a taste for tutoring, or so the stories go, Geoffrey Chaucer loses his luster. The truth is, most of us found our way to the writing center by some unconventional path, and we have stayed there for reasons that make sense to us even if they make little sense to anyone else. Certainly the motivation to stay must come from somewhere deep within the soul because the material rewards, such as tenure, lucrative pay, and status, often elude writing center professionals. Often we come to the writing center as a way to gain a foothold in a university and nurture the secret hope that years spent reading student essays, doing whatever our universities ask of us, and publishing scholarship will eventually bring us some sort of concrete reward. All too often, though, it only brings us more work. Based on personal experience, interviews, and public statements made writing center lifers, this presentation will examine what motivates long-term writing center professionals to stay on the job, year after year.
“Reflecting, Rethinking, and Reassessing: Writing Tutors Aid Students to Become Independent Writers”
Extending Mikhail M. Bakhtin’s theory that authors create works based on various voices within a specific social frame, I will argue that writers are never completely independent; thus, writing centers are not places where students come to learn to be absolute self-sufficient authors, but rather safe places where students come to participate in the writing process. The interdependent practice of professional writers speaking from, about, or for a social context, as well as having interval conversations with others about writing and relying on readers, editors, and proofreaders for critical assessment is a performance that can be aligned to students’ writing process, revising the idea that students are to learn to be independent authors. An understanding of a student’s interconnectivedness with others when producing a paper provides an enhanced appreciation and acknowledgement of the importance of the roles of tutors in writing centers. Tutors are integral members of the writing process, and in various times and spaces, they are listeners, coaches, editors, readers, and proofreaders, depending on the need of a student. Hence, writing center tutors do not necessarily aid students to become categorically independent writers, but rather offer assistance so students learn how to become strong writers, while realizing the writing process does not need to be performed in isolation.
“Connections within Sentences: Dusting off the Tradition of Diagramming
Stencence diagramming not only reveals the connections between the parts of a sentence; it also connects the concept of sentence construction to the student. Although it was a widely used tool of English instruction in the early twentieth century, the practicality of sentence diagramming has been widely debated. Between the 1950’s and the 1990’s, scholarly journals published numerous articles railing against the inadequacy of sentence diagramming as a method of teaching. However, current research indicates that this quaint teaching method might be making a comeback. In my presentation, I will reflect briefly on the tradition of sentence diagramming, establish its usefulness, and demonstrate its applications in writing centers.
“Minimalist Tutoring and the Question of Enlightenment: A Dialogue between Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche”
Jeff Brooks’ “Minimalist Tutoring: Making Students Do All the Work” has primarily been used in the directive/non-directive debate among writing center theorists. However, Brooks’ text has yet to be situated in its historical context. My proposal will accomplish this by arguing that Brooks’ conception of tutoring is informed by the discourse of Enlightenment. To substantiate this claim, I will perform a comparative analysis of Brooks’ text and Immanuel Kant’s “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” First, the writing center as Brooks envisions it functions like the public sphere in Kant’s text: both are free spaces marked by the absence of any authority, allowing inhabitants to freely and intersubjectively cultivate their powers of understanding. Second, both Brooks and Kant have a similar goal in advocating for such spaces: the ideal of the individual who, freed from reliance upon an authority figure, has strengthened her powers of understanding, possessing the means to self-directively chart her intellectual course. This comparison, however, reveals the values informing Brooks’ text, such as freedom from authority and the importance of the individual. In order to stress these values’ historicity, I will rely upon Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil, specifically his analysis of “slave morality.” My overarching purpose in providing such a genealogical analysis is to underline that any acceptance of minimalist tutoring must acknowledge its cultural specificity and, hence, its implicit ethnocentrism—just as any adherent of enlightenment must come to grips with similar dilemmas.
Kristen Gipson, Rocky A. Burton, & Craig Biddy
“Tutoring Connections Between Critical and Creative Writing”
By borrowing from creative writing, which students generally feel reflects their personal “voice” more forcefully than does scholarly writing, students are able to take ownership of their critical work in the academic environment.
Creating Connections: Redefining the Writing Process, Kristen Gipson
When tutors are able to help their tutees view writing as a creative process instead of a task to complete an assignment, tutees can more easily become invested in the writing process and become more open to tutoring.
Creative Methodology in the Tutoring Environment, Craig Biddy
By utilizing Creative Writing methodology, such as workshops and group review, in a tutoring session, students benefit by developing a critical application and understanding of the writing process.
Infusing Creativity into the Critical Essay, Rocky A. Burton
Students sometimes fail to take an interest in their own writing when presented with an essay assignment. Writing tutors can inspire these students to become actively involved in their own work by practicing an uncommon type of composition exercise: the creative critical essay.
Concurrent Session F
Saturday, 10:15 – 11:30
“Collaboration in the Break Room: The Importance of Connecting and Teaching among Tutors”
When discussing connections as related to a Writing Center, often scholars think about the connections made between tutor and student, tutor and teacher, or center and another organization related to writing. The connections made between tutors, however, are often just as important in helping to develop an effective tutoring experience. The group of tutors who work together in a Center often rely on each other for advice, support, and understanding. That reliance and connection as expressed in an area separate from the tutoring space improves the tutoring skills and leads to more effective tutors.
For the best connection between tutors to develop, it is important that there is a separate space, a break room, for tutors to be in when they are not with students. In this separate space, tutors can ask each other questions about assignments, students, and strategies that they might otherwise not ask in front of potential clients. They can also reflect on successful or difficult sessions. Andrea Lunsford expounds the importance of collaboration for an effective Writing Center. Thus tutors must be able to have a space where they are able to connect with one another on a personal and professional level through conversation and collaboration.
The importance of connection and reflection among tutors in a break room is relevant to the Writing Center field because often the tutors are the best trainers of other tutors. The diverse backgrounds and experience allow for various approaches to tutoring and thus can lead to a more involved Center.
“Reflecting and Connecting: Considering How a Happy Accident Led to Improved Tutor Training”
This presentation describes and reflects on an unexpected incident which led to a different approach for introducing tutors to their first sessions with student writers.
While I was in the Writing Center with my peer tutoring class, a student client walked in, but no tutors were available. I explained that we were holding a class, and the four students there were trainees who had not done any sessions with student writers. Not wanting to turn the student away, I asked if he would mind having all four of the trainees help him with his paper. I explained that they needed practice and he would be helping them. To my surprise, the student readily agreed.
The five students settled around a table, and the four tutors began to put what they had learned into practice. The writer eagerly discussed his paper. Each trainee contributed questions and comments. I believe this to be the best opening session I have observed in seven years of training tutors. The group appeared to put the writer at ease instead of intimidating him as I had feared. The trainees gained confidence from their peers, and they helped each other remember their training. I assumed this might be just a one time event, but during our next few class sessions, other students also eagerly agreed to meet with the class of trainees. We did not have a single student hesitate to join the group of tutors with a draft.
In reflecting on the success of having several tutor trainees work with one writer at the same time, I will explore the paradox of why student writers seem somewhat less intimidated by sharing papers with a small group of students than they frequently are in sharing a paper with one student tutor. Scholarship on the dynamics of group work , Peter Elbow’s Writing Without Teachers, Christina Murphy’s “Freud in the Writing Center: The Psychoanalytics of Tutoring Well, ” and Bruffee’s discussion of “normal discourse” will inform the search for an academic explanation for the success of this approach. It is my intent to allow time for the audience to share the success of their own “happy accidents” in tutor training.
“The Writing Center Tutor: Truly, a Mad Hatter”
Writing center tutors often ponder the key to establishing more effective relationships with students. We discuss the topic amongst ourselves and look to research for innovative strategies. Though constructive approaches, what proves more beneficial is reflecting on our own lives, namely the different “hats” we wear and how we can bring these “hats” to the table as we conference with students. To explain, my roles as a high school teacher, college professor, and writing center tutor incessantly overlap. As such, I find that the most powerful tool in my arsenal is the ability to accessorize differently. When students have difficulty understanding an abstract concept during a conference, I slip back into my “high school hat,” offering a more concrete approach, something visual and tactile. Though I am merely doing my job as a tutor, students perceive this tactic as me going the extra mile to simplify the process for them. This, coupled with their newly acquired mastery of the concept, serves to strengthen our relationship; thus, the writing center gets repeat customers with “buy in” to the process and, as a tutor, I get to work with students who feel completely at ease, trusting in the methods of madness. Undoubtedly, the most important implication of my reflection is that connections within a tutor’s own life can yield more valuable connections with students. It seems we often fail to utilize our most effective tool: ourselves.
Carey Smitherman, Jennifer Deering, & Ian Emery
“Once Upon a Time…Former Tutors, Present Responsibilities”
In this session, the panel members will reflect on our individual histories as writing center tutors and how these experiences have guided us through our professional careers. Although we hold different positions and have diverse responsibilities at the University of Central Arkansas, we appreciate the influences that tutoring has had on our lives. As Neal Lerner states in the introduction of The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, “…my professional life is still steeped in many things writing centered. …The one-to-one teaching of writing has had a hold on me for a while now, and I gladly meet its embrace” (xii-xiii).
The first presenter will discuss the ways in which serving as a tutor in the UCA Writing Center led him to his decision to continue his work in the same writing center as a graduate assistant, focusing on the integration of new tutors and new technologies.
The second presenter will share her experiences as the Assistant Director of the UCA Writing Center and how serving as an undergraduate tutor in the 1980’s continues to inspire ways to improve the Center’s service.
The third presenter will conclude with her journey from undergraduate writing tutor, to a writing center director, to her current position as Director of First-Year Writing and how tutoring continues to inform her work.
The shared culture of writing centers has transformed the way we all view writing, teaching, and administration. This continued reflection opens up endless possibilities.
Su Jin Yang
“International Tutors: Can you REALLY help me?”
There are a lot of international students who works as RAs, TAs, or GAs while they pursue their academic dreams in America. And among them, there are certain numbers of writing center tutors. Most of the case, their first language is not English. So, it might be look absurd to have international writing center tutors and sometimes this causes problems. First of all, some students distrust their international tutors. International tutors’ pronunciation and expression can be not fluent so students assume that they would lack of knowledge of writing paper. This mistrust makes students close their mind and the session ends up with small or even no result. However, the international tutors are certainly there with the ability to work with students and give guidance to them to help their writing process. To make student trust their international writing tutors, the international tutors should show them their confidence on help them with their writings. Their pronunciation would be awkward and they would make mistakes when they speak. However, if the international tutors welcome them with hospitality and speak aloud from the beginning, student would feel more comfortable with their international tutors. They can assure their students with comments like “I am a not a good speaker abut I am a good writer and I certainly can help you with your writings”. International writing tutors can be more objective in judging one’s writing process because they do not take English for granted. This would be beneficial to both the students and writing centers.
“Connecting with the Differences: Using Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions to Strengthen Conferences with International Students”
Why do some International students have such a hard time understanding plagiarism? Why does the collegiality of peer tutoring sometimes backfire, filling conferences with distrust and resistance? International Students come into our Writing Centers with unspoken expectations, and needs that are often at odds with the tacit assumptions of the American academy. If we are to truly serve our writers, we need to understand and connect with the differences between their national cultures and ours. Using Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions as a tool, this presentation will discuss some underlying value differences and suggest some strategies for bridging them.
“Self Improvement: Learning from the People We’re Supposed to be Helping”
Learning is a huge part of what we do at the Writing Center. Our primary goal as writing consultants is to help clients learn from their mistakes and, as a result, excel as writers. However, while working at the Writing Center, I have also learned more than a few things about how to become a better tutor. Originally, I assumed that I had learned everything I know from my fellow tutors. I soon realized, however, that a great deal of what I had learned had come from the students I had sat down with, hoping to teach them something. I was truly surprised to find that I could learn from the people that I was supposed to be helping in ways that no one else could teach me.
Kate Warrington, Cindy King, Natasha Kovalyova, Maria Ciriza-Lope, & Marco Shappeck
“Connecting with students/disconnecting with “best practices”?: The challenges of starting a new writing center”
In the “ideal” writing center, well-trained and enthusiastic peer tutors work with engaged student writers in a comfortable setting surrounded with writing resources which may include useful handouts, a library of handbooks and style manuals, and ample technology. However, it often takes time for this to become a reality. For a new writing center struggling to attain these ideal spaces and resources, many decisions have to be made that often go back to the question: To what degree should we sacrifice writing center “best practice”? For example, if there are no funds to pay peer tutors, should the writing center be made up of a bank of computers with software programs designed to help students with writing assignments, or remain closed until the funds can be procured for peer tutors? Or, should faculty be asked to volunteer their office hours until peer tutors can be hired? This panel presentation will discuss the challenges of opening a new writing center at a new university and the difficult decisions and sacrifices involved in this process. Specifically, presenters will discuss the dual roles of professor/tutor that faculty asked to volunteer in the writing center must take on, the difficulties of managing a language lab, math lab, and writing center in the same space, the challenges of aligning the center’s mission and its capacities in response to the community’s needs and expectations, and the problems that arise from tutoring low literacy and ELL students in this setting.