Researching the role of the Writing Centre in promoting “Writing in the Disciplines” in UK Higher Education
Peter O'Neill (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Kathy Harrington (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Roger Gossett (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Debbie Holley (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Rosemary Stott (London Metropolitan University, UK)
In this multi-presenter panel, Writing Centre staff and subject lecturers from London Metropolitan University reflect on their involvement in a Writing-in-the-Disciplines research project in 2009-2010. This project involved six lecturers and six cohorts of students and aimed to promote ownership of the teaching of academic writing by subject lecturers. The project involved academic staff diagnosing strengths and weaknesses of student writing in a more precise and rigorous fashion than usual and, through discussion with a writing specialist, targeting particular areas for curricular development. Participating lecturers then made limited but sustainable changes to their teaching, and thus to the learning experience of their students, in line with their particular needs and pedagogical goals. In evaluating the project, we have been particularly interested in student writing improvement, pedagogical development and issues of "teacher change”. In this presentation, Writing Centre staff and subject lecturers reflect on their experience of collaboration and evaluate the project. In particular, we reflect on the application of WAC/WID models to a UK context; we consider the implications of our study for the function of Writing Centres as loci for WID work; and we reflect on the intersection of Writing in the Disciplines work with Academic Literacies approaches.
In the first presentation, two Writing Centre staff will discuss the rationale for the project and offer an initial evaluation. They will also reflect on the intersection of Writing in the Disciplines work with Academic Literacies (cf. Russell et al. 2009) approaches and the extent to which the two approaches complement each other and the particular emphases and strengths of each approach (as well as any tensions between these two approaches).
This will be followed by presentations from three subject lecturers (in Business, Film Studies and Sports Science) who took part in the project. They will discuss and evaluate their particular writing interventions and reflect on their experiences of collaborating on this project.
Concluding remarks by Writing Centre staff will bring together lessons learned from the project. We will reflect on the application of WAC/WID models to a UK context and consider the implications of our study for the function of Writing Centres as loci for WID work.
Innovative Writing Instruction at the University – Focusing Writing and Bodily Experience in an Interdisciplinary Context
Alexandra Lavinia Zepter (University of Cologne, Germany)
Kirsten Schindler (University of Cologne, Germany)
Wherever writing and teaching writing is a topic in linguistic departments of German Universities, students are usually instructed to read the scientific research literature, they have to analyse writing assignments and processes and learn to distinguish between product-oriented and creative writing approaches. Their own writing though very rarely forms part of their university education; if it becomes an issue at all, then only in the sense that many students, even in advanced semesters, are still not capable of writing academic papers. While altogether “abstract knowledge” and corresponding theoretical (writing) research are emphasized on the one hand, “practical, individual experience”, including bodily and aesthetic awareness, and corresponding (theoretic) reflection are neglected on the other hand. In order to gain a broader sense of writing culture and make writing personally relevant, this approach is not sufficient. Students rather need to experiment and reflect on their own writing experiences, and they need to do this in diverse contexts, with an impact not only on their academic learning process, but also on their own self-development. This seems even more important for students who are becoming (high-school or primary school) teachers and will be guiding other students in their individual writing biography.
To address this challenge in the German linguistic department of the University of Cologne, we are developing an innovative interdisciplinary learning module that provides the opportunity for students to make their own diverse writing experiences. Our approach uses methods of creative writing and dance theatre (“Tanztheater”), linking up writing, speaking, bodily and aesthetic activities; a crucial component of the course work is a final open performance. To address this challenge in the German linguistic department of the University of Cologne, we are developing an innovative interdisciplinary learning module that provides the opportunity for students to make their own diverse writing experiences. Our approach uses methods of creative writing and dance theatre (“Tanztheater”), linking up writing, speaking, bodily and aesthetic activities; a crucial component of the course work is a final open performance.
In the conference-workshop, beyond introducing and discussing our approach in general, we will show details of two performances as well as the corresponding research evaluations; we will also demonstrate some of the practical assignments we use that can easily be embedded in a 90-minute seminar-session.
Because We’ve All Come Together, We Can Separate: Collaborative Tutoring Across the Curriculum
Tyler Bailey (Western Michigan University, USA)
Ashley Hartfik (Western Michigan University, USA)
Many American writing centers are located in English departments and/or are staffed primarily by English department faculty or graduate students. Such strong connections to an English department, while often valuable, can also generate mistrust among non-English faculty and the non-English majors who come to writing centers for help with materials from all majors. This distrust of English professionals is grounded in a belief that non-content experts cannot help students with discipline-specific writing as well as someone who has discipline knowledge. Such an assumption among WAC faculty and students tend to position writing center collaboration and assistance as an afterthought—the writing center becomes a resource that can assist with lower-order concerns, such as documenting, formatting, and stereotypically creative English writing but not with disciplinary specific understanding and communication. This vision of writing and writing centers can hamper the mission of a writing center, especially if recommendations or endorsements from professors across the curriculum are absent, and can ultimately culminate in the writing center catering to a concentrated audience, which severely limits a staff’s ability to work across the curriculum.
While our writing center has a positive connection to our university’s Department of English, it is staffed by students from across the curriculum and headed by an independent director. We, as staff in a multi-disciplinary writing center, believe the relationship between each consultant’s academic experience within the university to the collective Writing Center has provided our staff with techniques to appreciate writing across the curriculum and to tutor students across the curriculum as well. After establishing a reputation within the University through cross-discipline orientations and hiring students from various areas of study, we believe we have found a successful way to create an environment that encourages our consultants to collaborate and engage in tutoring across the curriculum. By allowing for a conversation on both inner-disciplinary communications and understandings of writing center work as well as the strength of a diverse staff within a workshop setting, we hope to leave the participants of our session with an understanding of our take on tutoring across the curriculum to assist in the creation of successful writers.
We are hosting a discussion-based workshop on the necessity of having strong, accurate relationships between the writing center and the university at large. We believe that, through conversations with other centers, we will be able to share our success in being a widely accepted resource for students across the curriculum at our university and will share why that position is important for writing centers helping WAC writers. We will discuss how a diverse staff, ranging in ages and multi-disciplinary majors, has contributed to our ability to tutor across the curriculum. We hope our interactive workshop provides participants with insights about the importance of establishing eclectic staffs and contributes to international academic exchange.
Adding meaning to trivia: A touch of variation at the Academic Writing Center of the Middle East Technical University (METU).
Aysem Karadag Otkur (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
Tijen Atasoy (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
“No two writing centers are alike” (Hobson), and writers approach writing centers with a bewildering variety of expectations from writing tutors. In our “un-alike” tutoring context, though we are fully convinced of the advantages of one-on-one tutoring, we have recently introduced an additional type of tutoring: “team-tutoring”.
We often find ourselves tutoring for very short-term goals, such as senior students writing Statements of Purpose, or a whole class writing a tiny component of a longer text and being directed to the writing center to “have it checked”. With such tutees who are only interested in getting their job done and who have little motivation to improve their academic writing skills in the long run on the one hand, and with writing coaches determined to provide writing consultancy following the ideal writing center philosophy on the other, what we call team-tutoring has emerged in the Academic Writing Center of the Middle East Technical University (METU).
With writing centers becoming commonplace in universities throughout the world, it is no surprise that a wide range of client profile, writing purposes and tutoring styles are bound to emerge. That is why, experimenting with new tutoring styles and carrying out research to evaluate their effectiveness are essential. The advantages are twofold: keeping up with the changing face of writing centers and maintaining the writing center’s service quality.
This study was designed to ascertain the effectiveness of team-tutoring as perceived by the tutors and tutees. A qualitative research has been conducted to better understand what takes place during the phases and processes of team-tutoring. Data came from a) observation of tutee behavior during team-tutorials, b) interviews with tutors, c) focused interviews with a purposefully selected sample of tutees, and d) tutee questionnaires. Descriptive coding was used to analyze the data. Relations among the codes were studied and results were discussed as regards the implications of team-tutoring for METU-AWC and whether variation or convention has value in the writing center practice.
The researchers intend to take turns sharing with the audience different parts of the research. Having clarified the need for the introduction of a variation in tutoring style, the presenters will cover such issues as the research question, the methodology, results and discussion. Doing so, the codes appointed to data obtained from interviews, questionnaires and observations will be brought to life through vivid examples. The relations among the codes will be interpreted and possible implications will be discussed.
The International Writing Center: Addressing the needs of a wider Korean community
Shane Ellis Coates (Kyungbook National University, Korea)
Sung-Dong Hwang (Kyungbook National University, Korea)
Since opening its doors in September, 2009, the International Writing Center at Kyungbook National University, South Korea has gone beyond the traditionally held concepts of what a writing center “should be”. It has sought to establish itself not only as a center for writing development but as a center for academic research; and an editorial office responsible for the quality of written work produced by the University itself. In fact, part of the IWC’s mission is to “to protect and enhance the international image of [KNU] by providing ‘final edit’ services for all official KNU publications”.
Aside from offering services standard to any writing center, the IWC is working towards the establishment of a Corpus of English Written by Koreans as a resource for advanced academic research, as well as a tutorial data management system designed to provide case study files on individual or groups of students; all in the name of drawing international linguistic scholars who might want to utilize the materials we can provide.
In addition, the Center has looked beyond the University to the greater challenge of providing services to the Municipality of Daegu, the third largest city in Korea, as well as partner institutions within the city in terms of editing for official publications, correspondences, and promotional materials. Herein we tackle sensitive issues such as language appropriation, especially in the translation and presentation of ideas and concepts that are culturally specific, in an effort to internationalize the presentation of the institution in question.
This presentation will provide an overview of the work being done at the International Writing Center as well as the issues that have been encountered and the measures being taken to overcome them in order to facilitate the realization of the Center’s objectives, both immediate and long-term. In so doing it will address the theme of the conference in so much as it speaks to the changing face of writing centers around the world and explores the possibilities of what a writing center can become and the role(s) it can play within a broader context.
The Writing Center as International Portal: Connecting Swedish and US Student Writers
Alyssa J. O'Brien (Stanford University, USA)
This presentation examines a fundamental question: what is the role of the Writing Center in teaching writing not just across disciplines but across cultures? Put another way: how can the Writing Center foster the development of global citizens, students who are equipped with the communication strategies that will prepare them for participation in a global community, across diverse standards of writing and speaking?
Sharing research in progress from the Stanford University Cross-Cultural Rhetoric project, this paper proposes a way to rethink the function of the Writing Center. It suggests that by opening its doors through virtual means, the Writing Center of tomorrow can allow students to connect and collaborate across diverse cultures and academic institutions. As a site for video-conference classes held simultaneously in Europe and the US, the Writing Center can provide students a way to celebrate a culture of writing even while they learn differences in academic conventions and expectations.
To support this claim, the presentation will share case study data from innovative Writing Center connections that have taken place over the past two years in which students at Stanford University have joined with students in Sweden to work together on writing projects and presentations of research. By offering documentary evidence, student work and testimonials, as well as quantitative analysis of writing and research outcomes, the presentation will argue for the Writing Center as an International Portal.
Yet the presentation will also discuss some the challenges that have emerged in connecting Swedish and US student writers through the Writing Center.
Specifically, one of the issues that this research has uncovered is the very different educational expectations across Europe and the US for what constitutes a thesis, an object of study, an effective argument, and persuasive writing. This issue speaks to the core of the debate concerning whether the American model can or should be exported to Europe.
Consequently, the presentation will consider the following larger questions: how does putting student writers together through advanced technological tools in the Writing Center make possible an immediate form of learning that has great implications for policy and curricula at higher levels for participating institutions? How does rethinking the role of the Writing Center in teaching writing across cultures in turn resituate what we mean by writing itself?
Developing a community outreach program at College of the North Atlantic-Qatar
Paula Hayden (College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, Qatar)
I propose to share the experience of developing a successful series of writing courses for the general public, many of whom are non-native speakers of English.
The Advanced Writing Centre (AWC) at the College of the North Atlantic-Qatar fosters the development of quality workplace writing in English. From planning to drafting, to editing and revising, AWC mentors guide students to make them better, more independent writers. In addition, the AWC encourages and promotes the development of personal writing, in English, for interested members of the general public.
Fall 2008 was my first term as a Writing Mentor at the Advanced Writing Centre. In addition to this role, I was also the Community Outreach Liaison, responsible for the development and implementation of initiatives to encourage members of the non-College community to avail of the AWC’s services.
As the Community Outreach Liaison, one of the initiatives of the first term was the development of a several personal interest writing courses for member of the general Doha city community. These were offered free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Each of the courses took place in a three- hour session offered in an evening time slot.
These workshops were advertised in the brochure distributed by Continuing Education, as well as in three English language newspapers in the city. Although approximately 170 people responded to the advertisements, registration was limited to 20 people per session. Despite full registration, the average number of actual participants in each session was 12, for a total of 60 over the five sessions. These 60 people represented more than 20 different countries.
The feedback on all these workshops was overwhelmingly positive; many participants expressed an interest in taking part in future workshops and were hopeful that programs would be developed further.
After a review of the feedback and consultation with the Dean of Academics, under whose department the AWC falls, it was decided to offer the same courses again in the winter term, with each course being expanded to two 3-hour sessions. Although approximately 220 people responded to the advertisements, registration was limited to 15 people per session. Despite full registration, the average number of actual participants in each session was 10, for a total of approximately 100 over the twelve sessions.
Again, the feedback on the workshops was very positive with many participants commenting on their desire for more writing opportunities. It was out of this enthusiasm that the print project, Mosaic, grew.
Mosaic is a project inspired by the writers in our community. Whether a homemaker dedicated to raising a family, or a business person working on international contracts, the desire to tell stories and express ideas lives in us all. This collection of stories, essays, and poems is the work of participants from 15 countries, most of whom speak English as a second language. Each workshop brought together men and women from all over the world that had stories to tell and ideas to share. These aspiring writers were energetic, enthusiastic, and excited!
As the facilitator for each of the workshops, I was amazed and touched by the level of sharing that took place as people from different countries and cultures with varied backgrounds in terms of family, education, and work experience came together to write. There was an openness and harmony that made each workshop truly special. I feel privileged to have been part of the writing life and experience of all those who participated, and to have been able to bring those efforts to the public through Mosaic.
This project is continuing in the 2009/2010 academic year as new workshops have been developed and a second edition of Mosaic is in the planning.
The ethos of a writing centre at a university of technology
Carl Johan Carlsson (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden)
Laleh Pirzadeh (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden)
Claes Andersson (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden)
This panel presentation aims at exploring and explaining some of the particular circumstances that the peer tutors at Chalmers University of Technology have experienced since the opening of Chalmers Open Communication Studio (CHOCS) in 2008.
As all tutors are engineering or science students from various disciplines, the conceptual framework for writing and writing instruction is governed by the specific writing in the disciplines (WID) setting that can be facilitated when tutors and writers share disciplinary backgrounds. At the same time as this is a clear advantage in terms of insight, recognition and experience, it may also be viewed as problematic from writing as a discipline perspective due to the potential, or at least perceived, lack of language or communication expertise.
Another challenge is the fact that the peer tutors’ main focus is on guiding writers in a second or foreign language (English). As an adaptation to the Bologna agreement, all master’s programmes at Chalmers University of Technology are given in English only. This gives a situation where both writers and tutors are L2 speakers, or sometimes even L3 or L4 speakers.
A further factor worth investigating is that the surrounding language environment (Swedish) is foreign to several of the tutors as well as many of the writers, as they are international students. An interesting effect of this is the fact that tutors and writers sometimes use another language that they have in common (e.g. Farsi, Urdu or Punjabi) in the tutoring sessions.
The writing center in Flemish higher education: a critical review
Jeroen Lievens (University College Limburg, Belgium)
This presentation critically reviews the language policies, and the policies for writing instruction in particular, that are common to higher education in Flanders (Belgium). Most institutions have turned to a linguistics-based, diagnostic-remedial model in response to the government’s 2007 call to “raise the bar” for literacy education. Now, this reductive model appears close to fully absorbing the notion of the “writing center” - still in its formative stages in Flanders. In this presentation, the diagnostic-remedial model is criticized, most notably for failing to meet its objectives of social inclusion, but also for failing to confront the complex socio-linguistic and textual realities of a century characterized by globalization, digitalization and mediatization. This presentation argues that the notion of Multiliteracies, which has proven to be a very productive concept for literacy education in Anglo-Saxon countries, offers much to expand and improve the currently prevailing interpretation of the “writing center” in Flanders. At the same time, some of the obstacles are discussed that will have to be overcome before any, more ambitious take on the “writing center” can be successfully introduced into Flemish higher education.
Writing Center Work at Göttingen University
Melanie Brinkschulte (Göttingen University, Germany)
Ella Grieshammer (Göttingen University, Germany)
David Kreitz (Göttingen University, Germany)
Annett Mudoh (Göttingen University, Germany)
This contribution aims at presenting the specific manner in which staff working as writing tutors at the University of Göttingen encounter the way of tutoring writing in the institutional setting of a German university.
Writing centers in Germany have developed since 1993 (foundation of the 1st writing center at Bielefeld University) and due to the specific institutional structures of German universities each of them has their individual way of operating. But as Santa (2009) points out, US writing center models cannot be completely adapted to the European context, but have to be modified. Therefore these structures offer constraints as well as possibilities to writing center work.
At Göttingen University different faculties have a share in writing center work: The International Writing Center is an institution for teaching and tutoring academic writing across the disciplines, specialized on academic writing in an intercultural context. The center offers a training program for writing tutors in the various disciplines. The tutor training assures a common theoretical framework for writing center work at Göttingen University, including an orientation towards writing as a process but also focusing on professional feedback on academic texts. Trained writing tutors offer discipline-specific workshops and tutoring on academic writing, working either in the Writing Center of Sociology or in their disciplines (e.g. Ethnology, Political Science, German studies). The aim is to set up a discipline-specific tutoring writing program within every interested faculty at Göttingen University.
To look at academic writing as a process which has to be learnt by studying and by writing academically might be familiar to many students and professors at German universities. But not everyone already knows how to improve his/her own academic writing. Therefore it is quite helpful to offer tutoring writing within the disciplines as discipline-specific writing tutors know about the specific requirements and habits in their disciplines and are able to explain them to students. Tutoring writing across the disciplines has the chance to concentrate on the academic writing process only and to neglect the content so students can reflect on their writing process and can explore academic writing strategies. In addition, creating a network of tutoring writing within and across the disciplines offers the possibility of public relation at the university so students and academic staff are aware about the writing center work.
This presentation will offer the possibilities of establishing writing center work within the disciplines and across the disciplines by looking at political constraints and possibilities at German universities, the departmental requirements concerning academic texts by study programs and individual demands set by supervising professors.
Non-native Students at an American Writing Center: What do Tutors Say?
Deniz Kucuk (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
Research done on non-native students and their experience in writing centers has shown that the ideal tutorial for non-native students indubitably isn't the same as that for a native student. This study carried out at Binghamton University (BU) Writing Center in New York presents recent findings on how BU writing center tutors work with the growing body of non-native students visiting the BU Writing Center so that these international students can make the most of a tutorial. The study also presents the suggestions the tutors who participated in the study make regarding the handling of the papers of the non-native students consulting the writing center. The main purpose of the study is to discuss the different ways in which the writing center tutors at Binghamton University approach the papers within a tutorial with non-native students coming to the center to seek help. Qualitative research was conducted to better understand what takes place during a tutorial with a non-native writer. The participants of the study were given a questionnaire, which provided data as to their perceptions of the difference between the tutorial with native and non-native writers. Later, the detailed responses to the questions in the questionnaire were examined and what they suggest in terms of their implications as to the future of tutoring non-native writers, training tutors to work with this populace and the writing center work in general was discussed. Moreover, a detailed account of an American model of writing center and writing center work was given and discussions were extended as to whether there are any differences between the American and European model.
Investigating needs and requirements to establish a writing center at the University of Tartu, Estonia
Djuddah A.J. Leijen (University of Tartu, Estonia)
Laura Ojava (University of Tartu, Estonia)
The University of Tartu in Estonia is taking a leap into recognizing the importance of developing structural writing support to its students and staff by organizing an academic writing center. The University of Tartu, like many universities in Europe, officially recognizes two languages as an academic language of instruction, first and foremost Estonian, and secondly English. In order to organize and find supporting partners, concepts, proposed by Muriel Harris at the International Writing Center Association and information gathered at EATAW conference 2009, were organized and presented to representatives from the Institute of the Estonian Language and the University Language Center to discuss what kind of support should be offered by the academic writing center. A decision was made to investigate what faculties and departments are currently doing to develop and support academic writing proficiencies, followed by a questionnaire investigating the needs and opinions of teachers and students. Nearly 200 teachers (both Estonian and foreign), and just above a 1000 students (Estonian, foreign, and exchange) replied to our questionnaire. Currently, we are in the process of analyzing the data. Initial results indicate a strong favor for academic writing support to be offered at faculties in collaboration with subject specialists, and the use of language tutors from different disciplines. At the conference we plan to share the results of our survey and provide a clearer concept of how we intend to organize the writing center at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
The Beat Goes On: Three Generations of Tutor Trainers Examine Writing Center Trust Strategies and Legacies
Kim Ballard (Western Michigan University, USA)
Muriel Harris (Purdue University, USA)
Meghan Dykema (Western Michigan University, USA)
The European higher education interest in writing centers and writing across the curriculum (WAC) is generating a reconsideration of writing instruction as a developmental process best taught by allowing students (1) to discuss their writing and ideas and (2) to understand rhetorical strategies employed in different disciplines and genres. But as WAC highlights the role of disciplinary specific insights in writing instruction and development, students, faculty, and writing center directors and tutors may logically question how writing center tutors—especially undergraduates—can be trusted to help students with the variety of writing situations, disciplinary specific ideas, and styles fostered by WAC assignments.
Drawing on their collective wisdom and experience, three generations of writing center tutors/administrators will explore the importance of building trust between directors and tutors as well as the importance of tutors trusting themselves and each other. We will also discuss ways to encourage these various trust relationships.
We’ll introduce the talk by explaining how presenters are connected. Speakers 2 and 3 are undergraduate tutors and assistant directors at the writing center Speaker 4 directs, and Speaker 4 was a graduate tutor and assistant director in the writing lab Speaker 1 directed. In addition to working/mentoring influences, the presenters also share another common experience: each has negotiated training for tutors who were their colleagues and their students. Each has had to determine how to initiate new tutors into writing center pedagogy and insights, how to trust tutors they were training, and why trust is a linchpin to everyone’s learning and engagement in writing centers.
Speaker 1 will focus the presentation by explaining what trust relationships look like in a writing center and why they are so vital. She will share how and why she came to realize she had to trust her tutors to work with her as colleagues and emerging professionals, not as subordinates, a recognition that created a space for tutors’ and writers’ knowledge to surface and encouraged the legacy of trust that really connects all the presenters as well as the most effective writing center communities.
Discussing their efforts to help train tutors in a high school writing center, Speakers 2 and 3 will clarify how they recognized the need to encourage those tutors to trust themselves. Speaker 3 will share how the term “reactive teaching” helped her extend to her tutors the trust she learned working with Speaker 4. In this part we will connect the role of trust in writing center work to the shared responsibility that allows learning and mistakes as well as cajoling of and discovery of individual writers’ voices—even disciplinary specific voices—individual tutors’ voices, individual tutor trainer/director voices, and a professional legacy.
Thus, we will connect trust to the vision of writing and understanding of writer development that functions in our writing centers or functioned in our writing lab and will suggest that trust functions throughout writing center theory. Although we’ll discuss any aspect of our presentation while answering questions from the audience, we want to avoid offering only “This is what we do” logistics in favor of exploring how trust functions in writing center pedagogy and is, ultimately, our best legacy.
Broadening the scope of student writing: Implementing new text types with a content-based approach
Mujde Sener Nordling (Sabanci University, Turkey)
The talk is divided into three parts:
1. Context Briefing, Overview Of The Research For The Project And Findings
I will set the context of the Writing Task Group (WTG) which was initiated based upon institutional feedback and needs analysis surveys and aimed to identify common text-types, text-content and task-types assessed in university and large cohort faculty courses. Therefore, the WTG looked at a comprehensive range of assignments and exam question types from Freshman English, Natural Sciences (NS), Social & Political Sciences (SPS), Humanities (HUM), and Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences (FENS) and conducted interviews with faculty instructors. The research carried out yielded short answer questions with single prompt and longer writing assignments with multiple prompts as common features of university examination papers in many different subjects. These may vary in length from one sentence to several sentences, and usually require the use of one type of communicative function either definition, comparison, describing a cause or an effect, or a description of a process, although as levels progress, longer types may involve combinations of these communicative functions.
2. This part continues with the implementation of short answer questions (SAQ) and longer writing assignments in different levels and how they were integrated into the current teaching program in collaboration with syllabus and assessment teams in FDY. Basically, research indicated that both SAQ and longer writing assignments on our Faculty courses may require students to be more content responsible by displaying familiarity with a concept, with the relations between or among concepts or with a process. Therefore, certain principles in terms of teaching and assessment in SL, FDY writing program were established in the light of these findings, which are summarised below:
§ FDY Instructors should have as much information and guidance as possible about the teaching of SAQ and longer writing assignments
§ All writing assignments (SAQ and longer ones) in FDY should be based around selected core texts and textbooks used in the school already.
§ Teaching of writing in FDY should be based on models of the types of pattern that learners were expected to write in university and faculty courses so that their attention could be drawn to the language of realisation of such patterns.
§ This cycle of writing, feedback, comparison and production culminates in the students producing such text-types for assessment, thus fulfilling the basic condition that students are only assessed on what they have been taught in FDY writing program.
Creation of SAQ and Longer Writing Assignment Criteria and Conclusions: This final part reports how the criteria for the SAQ and longer writing assignments were created and what components were considered essential for better assessment and evaluation of student progress in terms of content, language and use of rhetorical patterns required in exam prompts. The implementation of these new writing assignments as new text types in FDY writing program seem to have increased students’ participation, and “empowered students by offering them ways to analyse texts and reflect on the workings of language” (Hyland, 2007). Such implementation has also led to an increased awareness of writing amongst students; and a better awareness of what it involves amongst instructors; and greater variety in teaching writing.
Are conventions of academic writing teachable and transferable: the case of Turkish higher education?
Elif Demirel (Blacksea Technical University, Turkey)
Ariane Hoyer (European University, Viadrina, Germany)
Teaching academic writing also means teaching a new way of thinking and a new way of expressing thought since the academic genre has its own conventions of form and discourse. It is believed that if students’ attention is deliberately directed towards the conventions of academic genre, they would have an opportunity to transfer the skills they acquire in academic writing course to other settings and writing tasks (Johns, 2003). In this study, a small corpus compiled of Turkish university students’ term papers written for a methodology course are analyzed and compared against a corpus of published academic papers. The student group under investigation which has taken an academic writing course in their first year is expected to use prior knowledge in writing a paper for their second year methodology course. This paper presentation is going to share the results of the analysis of student papers. The analysis is expected to shed light on the major difficulties students face while writing academic papers and how well they can transfer the knowledge and skills relating academic writing to other course contexts. Suggestions will be made about how to help students solve common difficulties and how to improve their writing at the academic level.
ESP, ELI, EFL, EAP: Implications of Global English Practices for Tutor Preparation
Carol Peterson Haviland (California State University, San Bernardino, USA; American University of Beirut, Lebanon)
Joan Mullin (Illinois State University, USA)
Linda Bergmann (Purdue University, USA)
The roles of writing centers and WAC programs in “teaching English” often elide issues of correctness, genre, consistency, and linguistic identity, particularly when these discussions take on international dimensions. Whether, for example, English is being taught or learned as an additional language for business or professional purposes or as a replacement language intended to replace a home language shapes the rhetorical culture in which instruction takes place.
This panel will lay out these often-ignored but important issues that arise when international EWCA scholars converge to discover what they might learn from each other—and where their goals appear similar but, in fact, are quite different.
Drawing on their research in the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, and Lebanon, panelists will then discuss the differences between what is being studied at a scholarly/conference level and what is (not) being incorporated into tutor preparation and WAC pedagogies. Discussion will open questions about the complexity of integrating what we know about mono and multi-lingual practices with what we do in our writing centers and writing or WAC programs, further pointing to the potential limits that can prevent an integration of scholarship and practice and consider those situations where such limits may enhance or inhibit students’ learning to write—in their own languages or in English.
Hellenic American University Student Attitudes Towards Online/Onsite Tutoring
Vasiliki Kourbani (Hellenic American University, Greece)
The Writing Center at the Hellenic American University is a breakthrough in what a traditional Writing Center entails in terms of both nature and target audience. Apart from the various writing courses offered to Undergraduate students where they have the chance to improve as writers, the Writing Center at the Hellenic American University endeavors to make the development of writing skills an important part of the writing experience, increase student literacy, and promote intellectual growth. This is achieved, onsite and online through asynchronous tutoring, by combining innovative software design, e-equipment, and cutting-edge software with experienced personal tutoring. The HAU Writing Center operates, by definition, under a much different context, that of an American institution in a non-English speaking country, Greece. Paraphrasing Kachru’s ‘Concentric Circles of English’ (1985:12ff), English-in this diverse setting- is used as a medium of instruction, not in the Inner but in the Expanding Circle, where mostly non-native speaker tutors help mostly non-native speaker writers from different multilingual and multicultural contexts to improve on the written discourse. It is also worth noting that even though the vast majority of the student body is Greek, 18% of students represent eighteen (18) other countries.
Given the above mentioned existing differences, this paper investigates Hellenic American University students’ perceptions and attitudes towards one mode of tutoring over the other in terms of feedback usefulness and accessibility convenience.
This paper, thus, builds on a growing consensus among Writing Center administrators and tutor training program designers that there are substantial differences between traditional face-to-face tutoring in an ordinary room and online tutoring that is facilitated through a sophisticated interface which makes use of a number of fancy interactive and communication tools that guide users through the whole process (Murphy & Sherwood, 2003, Capossela, 1998, Rafoth, 2000).
The study involves a Writing class at the Hellenic American University consisting of Undergraduate students during the second semester of their studies. A four-page questionnaire has been drafted using both closed and open-response questions.
Designing a constructive response to students’ writing: the case of WAC Program at Hellenic American University
Ioannis Petropoulos (Hellenic American University, Greece)
Writing can no longer be confined to the language classroom. Therefore, interdisciplinary writing through Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) implementation enhances both students' general writing ability and learning the specific language of the disciplines. The WAC program at Hellenic American University is delivered exclusively on line through the University’s e-learning platform, Blackboard. Students are required to complete the WAC written assignment in two drafts, which are edited by both course instructors and writing center tutors, to meet discipline specific content and language criteria. The aim of this research is to investigate the type of responses of course instructors in the disciplines, compared to those of writing center tutors and the extent to which these comments help students improve their final texts based on a comparative analysis of the assigned grades for the two drafts. The study involves two undergraduate classes one from the area of Psychology and one from the area of Accounting & Finance. The data retrieved from the e-platform is analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The results relate the effectiveness of student revision with the commentary approach followed by course instructors and tutors. The findings seem to suggest the need for uniformity in the principles that course instructors and Writing Center tutors follow in their attempts to respond to student writing in WAC.
Helping Students with Thesis and Dissertation Proposals: Insights from Rhetorical Genre Theory
Irene Clark (California State University Northridge, USA)
William Clark (University of California, Los Angeles, USA)
The process of developing a thesis or dissertation proposal poses a significant challenge for graduate students, even those who are able to complete seminar papers without difficulty. The proposal is an unfamiliar genre to most students, who have only a vague understanding of its purpose; moreover, because it a genre that has significant professional consequences, it elicits a great deal of fear. In the proposal, students must not only offer a “worthwhile” contribution to potentially judgmental members of a disciplinary scene, but they must also assume a new identity, shifting from the role of engaged student to that of fledgling scholar. It is not surprising, then, that writing a proposal is one of the most stressful tasks a graduate student undertakes, and it is therefore important for writing center professionals, as well as advisors and mentors, to gain awareness of the proposal as a genre and develop strategies that will be helpful to students.
This workshop will link theoretical insights derived from rhetorical genre theory with pedagogical application to the “genre” of the graduate thesis or dissertation proposal. Based on the work of John Swales, Amy Devitt, Aviva Freeman, Anthony Pare, and Charles Bazerman, among others, the term “genre” in this context is defined not primarily by its formal characteristics, but in terms of its function within a discourse community. Genres develop because they respond appropriately to situations that writers encounter repeatedly, and the underlying premise of the workshop is that when students understand the “genre” of the thesis or dissertation proposal, they will be able to write proposals more successfully. The workshop will also present practical strategies and approaches that tutors and mentors can use with students from a variety of disciplines.
The workshop will begin by eliciting discussion of the difficulties students encounter when they face the proposal “challenge.” Such difficulties may include the mistaken notion of originality that many students bring to the task, the inherent elitism associated with proposal writing, and the trouble many advisors have in adequately defining rhetorical goals and requirements for their students. It will then present a set of genre-based precepts pertaining to the thesis or dissertation proposal that tutors and mentors can use to work with their students. These precepts will enable students to become aware of the argumentative purpose of the proposal, which is to convince established participants that a disciplinary problem, issue, or situation is significant to the profession, and to understand that “originality” in the academy builds on the work of others. In this context, the workshop will explain the strategy of locating “text partners”—that is, three or four seminal articles that potentially relate to the topic of the thesis/dissertation. Students can then envision the authors of these articles as “partners,” imagine a face-to-face conversation with them, and attempt to situate themselves within that conversation. It will also suggest the usefulness of focusing students’ attention on characteristic “moves” in a proposal, a term associated with the work of Swales and Bhatia, which defines a “move” as a segment of text that is shaped and constrained by a particular communicative function. Finally, the workshop will stress the importance of helping students gain conscious awareness of what they already know about the genre of academic writing in more familiar writing contexts so that they can apply or “transfer” that knowledge to the task of writing a proposal. The workshop will include a number of handouts and is intended to be interactive.
“Writing” Centers and International Collaboration: A France-U.S. Dialogue
Stephanie Boone (Dartmouth College, USA)
Denis Alamargot (Université de Poitiers, France)
Tiane Donahue (Dartmouth College, USA)
We propose a session that will enable cross-cultural dialogue about different kinds of writing centers. Speaker one will introduce a particular kind of writing center model, one that integrates student support for writing, research, and new media/technology, located at Dartmouth College in the U.S. She will explain the theoretical underpinnings and the practices of this center. Speaker two will describe initiatives at l’Université de Poitiers, France, related to teaching and tutoring writing, supporting all students, from all disciplines, first in training modules focused on writing, and then through writing center support. He will discuss French writing research, in particular related to digital tools, on which the initiative will be grounded. The discussant will then synthesize the results of this dialogue between speakers one and two, and suggest paths for productive exchange and interaction between French and U.S. writing centers, opening up the discussion to participants.
The Council of Writing Program Administrators and EWCA: what we can learn from each other
Darsie Bowden (DePaul University, USA)
The Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) advocates for writers, writing teachers, and effective writing programs. Its work is guided by over 2500 years of knowledge, research, and theory on effective communication, writing instruction, and student learning. Up until recently, it has focused most of its attention on meeting the challenges of writers and writing programs within 4-year institutions of higher education in the United States. But in the past year, the CWPA has been working to forge connections and collaborations with writing centers, community colleges, and regional and international writing programs so we can pool our resources and work together productively and powerfully on concerns that impact the teaching and learning of writing globally.
As an executive board member of the CWPA, I will use this presentation to share our resources, particularly those resources –in a broad range of areas—that could be useful to academic institutions that work with writers. These areas include: writing assessment, learning outcomes, mentoring, lists of useful journals and conferences, and considerations of the intellectual work of writing program administrators. The CWPA’s Network for Media Action is charged with developing new ways to frame writing and literacy in the news media and has developed campaigns and message frameworks to help our members advocate for what we do. Topics for these message frameworks include: grammar instruction, standardized tests, machine scoring of writing, and writing and citizenship. Another of our projects is the National Conversation on Writing (NCoW), a website that features multi-modal conversations on writing from students, teachers, administrators and anyone from the general public who is interested in writing.
Most importantly, I will use some of the time period to solicit ideas on how we all might work together to pool our extensive resources and help each other meet common challenges. Ultimately, my hope is to create opportunities for international conversations on writing.
Writing Programme Design Consultancy: Collaborations between departmental staff and the writing centre
Wendy Smeets (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
This session will discuss the Writing Programme Design initiative by the Writing Centre and the WriteNow CETL at Liverpool Hope University describing the design of a 14-hour seminar component as a case study.
Following the national skills movement in educational policy (Drew, 1998), academic writing can be perceived in terms of the development of key skills that help the retention and employability of students. These essential skills include written communication skills and “transformative attributes such as critique and synthesis” (Harvey et al. 1997:3 in Drew, 1998). As pointed out by Torrance et al., the ability to write clearly and fluently is undoubtedly one of the most important skills required of graduates (1999:189) and effective writing is fundamental to success in higher education. As such, the Programme Design is aimed at helping departments develop subject-specific workshops or seminar components that enable students to improve their academic reading and writing, thus fostering skills that will be transferable to their future work and studies.
Cultures of Writing: Disciplinary Identities and Individual Values
Angela Mary Ardington (University of Sydney, Australia)
This paper explores the relationship between thinking and writing in Engineering and the Visual Arts. These disciplinary communities, which represent science and creativity, are positioned as opposed in mainstream discourses (Armstrong 2006). An examination of the epistemological perspectives (theoretical approaches and methodologies) pursued across these discourse communities reveals how text is shaped by disciplinary expectations and practices (Becher & Trowler 2001; Hyland 2009). Drawing on influential theories of academic discourse: Swales (2004); Lea & Street (1998); Ravelli (1999) writing is examined in terms of its communicative power. Issues for discussion include: What effects do disciplinary epistemologies have on academic discourses? How do individual perceptions of the relationship between creativity and the formal demands of writing impact academic discourses? This paper draws on qualitative data from research involving students in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering programs at the University of Sydney.
Initial findings indicate a range of responses: confusion with respect to expectations and what is valued; lack of preparedness regarding general writing ability; perceptions of writing as peripheral; resistance to the conceptual rigours of linear argumentation in formal academic writing. Some responses highlight the standardising pressures of the academy. These preliminary findings confirm the need for collaborative interdisciplinary projects which can provide opportunities to reflectively examine our relationships to texts and audiences, in both the written and the visual worlds, as a means to encourage dialogue between all those involved in the writing practice to develop positive learning environments for all students. Implications for existing pedagogy suggest that future collaborations that integrate a variety of learning approaches (to knowledge) i.e. problem solving, experimental techniques and interpretive, contextualised critical thinking could offer exciting possibilities such as permitting the description of a continuum in writing practices spanning existing disciplinary boundaries challenging current epistemologically-driven practices which reinforce strict disciplinary cultural identities.
The Writing Center and Ecocomposition
Bonnie Devet (College of Charleston, USA)
Writing centers, no matter in which country they are found, are like organisms, performing in and living in an educational environment: evolving, altering, adapting. Given this organic quality, I believe that a key way to understand how writing centers handle the teaching of writing is to examine them through the lens of the latest theory of composition: ecocomposition. Focusing on the organic nature of writing, ecocompositionist borrow the concept of ecology as a central metaphor, seeing writers and their environments as dynamically intertwined. That is, “. . . the self and the social [are seen] as recursively at work on one another, as engaged in an ecologically symbiotic relationship," as Anis Bawarshi argues. Student writers, then, are part of a web of connections. Woven into the theory of ecocomposition are perceptions and ideas that explain the work of writing centers, today. Since there exists no one model for writing centers across the world, ecocomposition provides a theory crossing national boundaries. To see how ecocomposition is useful, this presentation examines its pivotal concepts— interrelationship, place, and voice—to understand how each applies to writing centers, thus providing new insight into the nature of centers as they help students anywhere in the world.
Talking about writing: What teachers and supervisors can learn from the writing centres' approach
Joy de Jong (Radboud University, Netherlands)
A major instrument in the teaching and tutoring of academic writing is giving feedback on students' writing. In this presentation I would like to focus on spoken/oral/verbal feedback. Firstly, because oral feedback is the main type of feedback used in our Center for Academic Writing in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The second reason lies in my PhD study which centred on conversations, in particular conferences of students writing their master's thesis and their supervisors. The main goal of that study was to generate detailed and precise descriptions of what is going on in thesis interaction that might explain why academic writing processes like these, are less or more efficient. Supervisors appear to be dominant in these conversations: they control the structure by bringing in most (61%) of the (sub) topics and they talk more than the students do (on the average 67% of the words, ranging in the nine conversations from 53% till 74%). In scenes in which texts are being discussed (as opposed to, for example, the design or the schedule), this dominance even increases: supervisors bring in 95% of the topics while 76% of the words is spoken by the supervisor. They tend to make remarks on everything that does not meet the standard and give suggestions as to how to 'repair' the text. One of the consequences of this behaviour is that supervisors do the majority of the work: during the conversation itself as well as in terms of writing tasks such as evaluating and revising the text.
In most writing centres the interaction with students follows a different pattern. Writing centre tutors are trained to approach the student writers in a non-evaluative and non-directive way and to activate the students during the tutoring sessions. Moreover, the writing process is involved in discussions about a writing product. The questions I would like to address in my presentation are:
1. Would it be useful, profitable and feasible for teachers to incorporate some features of a 'writing centres' approach' into their supervisory practice?
2. As writing centre professionals, how can we be of assistance to a change in that direction?
In order to answer those questions, I will present some of the material I gathered during my research. Scenes from supervisory conferences illustrate the characteristics of the interaction as it occurs when student and supervisor meet. Next, we will discuss why supervisors act as they do, because knowing the motives is important when we want to suggest behavioural changes.
Writing Groups for Junior Scholars and University Teachers: Ukrainian Experience
Halyna Kaluzhna (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
Tetiana Fityo (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
Ihor Devlysh (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
Oksana Andrushchak (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
Writing for publication is an important part of the academic life and those working at higher educational institutions are aware of the pressure they face when reporting on their accomplishments. Unfortunately, writing may also be challenging and stressful, often accompanied with procrastination. Some reasons for procrastination are hesitation and anxiety junior scholars face when sharing their writing with experienced colleagues, seeing writing as a solitary activity, and perfectionism.
For many years, creating and maintaining writing groups, at least in the western context, has been an effective way to improve writing performance. On the contrary, in the Ukrainian context collaborative writing has never been popular. In Ukraine and other post-soviet countries writing is often seen as a solitary activity; young scholars are expected to prepare their reports individually and present them at scientific seminars, conferences, as well as publish in academic journals.
In this joint presentation the authors will share their experience of participating in a writing group. They will start with their motivations to join the group, the major motivating factors being fighting anxiety, improving time management, preparing a paper for publication, polishing the dissertation, and improving writing skills in general. They will then report on how working in the group influenced their writing performance basing their findings on the notes taken by group participants, their reflections, and their published output. We hope that reporting on this experience, new for Ukrainian professional and educational context, will throw more light on organizing and maintaining writing groups in general as a sociocultural teaching and learning model with a constructivist epistemology, and will add to the ongoing professional debate about publishing in higher education.
Collaborative Efforts to Encourage Faculty Ownership of WAC
Shanti Bruce (Nova Southeastern University, USA)
Kevin Dvorak (St. Thomas University, USA)
In this panel, a WPA from one university and a writing center director from another university will explain how each has established collaborations designed to encourage faculty ownership of writing across the curriculum. As numerous WAC scholars have purported, a WAC program’s long-term success is based largely on getting faculty across the curriculum to buy into the program and develop a sense of ownership within it (Sandler 1992; Halasaz et al., 2006; Sandler, 1992; Walvoord, 1992; Miller, 1993; Blumner et al., 2002). Creating this sense of ownership, though, can be a great challenge. The panelists have faced this resistance and have developed new ways to promote faculty ownership.
Presenter 1, a WPA, began working at a university where a WAC policy had been implemented. Many faculty members reacted negatively to this policy, having felt imposed upon by it. Halasaz et al (2006) explain, “Faculty resistance to Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) is an issue that has been recognized by WAC program directors and practitioners for decades, yet it remains unresolved (e.g., Swanson-Owens, 1986; Boice, 1990; Swilky, 1990; Glaze and Thaiss, 1994; Mahala and Swilky, 1994; Walvoord et al., 1997; Patton et al., 1998; Anson, 2002).” Traditional faculty workshops would not work for those faculty, so the WPA has taken a different approach. She has met one-on-one with faculty who have been willing to discuss WAC and have provided them with resources they can then take back to faculty in their disciplines. These one-on-one collaborations have proven fruitful because many faculty are more inclined to listen to their disciplinary colleagues. According to Halasaz et al. (2006), “Swanson-Owens (1986) argues that resistance is often a "natural" and even "appropriate" response when an instructor's goals, pedagogical style, and epistemological assumptions are at odds with innovations proposed by "outsiders" (i.e. WAC proponents) (p. 72). These collaborations eliminate “outsider” WAC presentations and turn the ownership of WAC over to the faculty in each discipline.
Presenter 2, a writing center director, has established a writing center internship that pairs one tutor with a faculty member in another discipline. This tutor-intern acts as a research assistant to the faculty member, helping that faculty member with her research, while also learning about writing in that discipline. This arrangement allows the student to learn about writing in a particular discipline and what expectations the faculty in that discipline have of student writers. The tutor-intern brings that information back to the center to share with other tutors and occasionally tutors students writing in that discipline. This collaboration treats the faculty of each discipline as the authority and ensures that they help shape the tutoring taking place in the writing center.
After the presenters share their unique approaches to encouraging faculty ownership of WAC, they will invite audience members to consider both the feasibility of these approaches in their institutional contexts and other ways they might successfully encourage faculty ownership of WAC.
Extending college writing center work toward the community: Facilitating local schools in developing writing/reading projects
Gerd Bräuer, (University of Education, Freiburg Germany, EWCA Board)
Most often, the goals of writing centers in higher education are limited to enabling writers to meet the literacy requirement of their home institution. Needs of the local schools in preparing the next generation of college students are easily overlooked. How can we make our knowledge and experience in writing center work accessible to people and institutions in our immediate neighborhood?
In my presentation, I would like to draw from theories and practices of US writing center work in the community (e.g. Adler-Kassner et al. 1997, Rousculp 2005) as well as from the methodology of experiential education (e.g. Rodacker/Siebler 2006) and demonstrate this knowledge applied to “Scriptorium,” a developmental project which was sponsored by the European Union until 2009. The main goal of this project is still today to set up high school writing/reading centers where people get trained as tutors in either reading or writing and prepare themselves to develop literacy projects and support peer and adult learners in their schools and neighborhoods.
Outlining the methodological approach, content, and organizational structures of this project and the local network of literacy advocates in one example city, I will indicate ways of how to adapt community-based Anglo-Saxon concepts of writing center work and experiential education to a European context hoping that my conclusions will spur similar literacy projects in other European countries and help drawing attention to the online resources “Scriptorium” has to offer for community-based writing center work.
A brochure, including a DVD as an introduction to the e-learning platform of “Scriptorium” will be provided for free to the audience.
Library and Writing Center Collaboration for Student Information Literacy
Barbara Rau Kyle (University of Central Florida, USA)
In May 2007, a University of Central Florida regional campus team of Nursing, Communications, Psychology, and Business faculty, librarians, administration, and writing center coordinator received a three-year Quality Enhancement Plan grant to study the impact of a library/writing center partnership on student information literacy. This presentation will share our project’s quantitative results, as well as its more qualitative benefits, as our project comes to a close in May 2010.
Using the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education, the team developed program modifications and interventions designed to improve students’ ability to gather, evaluate, and use information, and to enhance their technology literacy and critical thinking. As noted by current writing center scholarship, information literacy is not strictly the province of the library: the ability of students to envision the need for, and understand the scope of, research begins in the classroom with conceptualization and critical thinking, and follows throughout the recursive writing and research process. Writing, as a means of learning as well as communicating, is a critical aspect of research, and use of the writing center’s collaborative sessions—particularly within a library environment—can reinforce this connection for students. The project’s development was guided by additional accepted pedagogy, including the benefits of one-on-one discussion of projects in-progress, program collaboration, and single location of services.
Targeted student interventions include group workshops and one-on-one writing center/librarian sessions. Over 200 students are assessed using the James Madison University Information Literacy Test and research paper evaluation.
Data collection and analysis will be complete by early May 2010. The team has already enjoyed the benefits of enhanced academic collaboration and the establishment and expansion of a successful writing center. The resulting increase in student accessibility to information literacy concepts and skills should have broad application for other institutions.
Planted in Business: A Writing Center Grafted to a Discipline
Kate Ronald (Miami University, Ohio, USA)
Abby Dubisar (Miami University, Ohio, USA)
Lisa Blankenship (Miami University, Ohio, USA)
Ann Updike (Miami University, Ohio, USA)
Caroline Dadas (Miami University, Ohio, USA)
This panel explores the implications of devoting all of a Writing Center's energies toward one particular disciplinary area. We report on twelve years of work in a top-tier American School of Business, where we not only consult with students on their writing but also work with faculty to design writing assignments and to encourage and assess student writing. Specifically, we explore how our Writing Center has attempted to implant rhetoric into the field of business. We report that, like most grafts, the connection may not automatically "take," and we reflect on how the results of a graft may not resemble either original contributor to the connection.
Writer Development and Feedback Groups: Procedures and Benefits
Sarah Haas (Leuven, Belgium)
Rikke von Müllen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Facilitating writers' groups and feedback groups has great potential for better learning, better writing and better process. These presentations will introduce different versions of How-to, and several reasons Why-to, making it possible for attendees to take practical information back to their own institutions, and reap the benefits of writers’ groups in their own contexts.
Using the example of one group of MA TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) students, the first presenter will describe the procedures followed in weekly Writer Development Workshops, and then outline the benefits--as perceived by the student-writers--of attending the workshops. The procedures used in the workshops were adapted from activities found in literature on academic writers' groups (Aitchison, Badley, Elbow, Lee and Boud, Murray). The data for the evaluation of member benefits was collected via audio-recordings of workshops, questionnaires, and interviews. The results indicate that members found the workshops to be successful from the points of view of community, motivation, and improving their own academic writing.
The second presenter will outline a method of Feedback Groups that has been used successfully for over ten years at the University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Social Sciences, with master's thesis writers. Over the years, hundreds of such groups have helped master's thesis writers to write better theses, avoid procrastination and have more enjoyable writing processes. The key is very strict rules guiding the working relationship and making it possible for complete strangers, after relatively brief introduction, to give each other formative feedback for individual needs. The benefits of these Feedback Groups were examined via a large questionnaire survey.
Legacies in Learning: Utilizing Writing Center Histories to Build Connections and Strengthen Writing Center Foundations
Allison Denman Holland (University of Arkansas-Little Rock, USA)
The Writing Centers Research Project is the repository of materials related to the founding of the writing center movement in the United States and abroad. Realizing the interconnections between writing centers around the globe, this presentation provides an overview of materials preserved in the WCRP archive and demonstrates how preserving writing center history enhances writing center campus profiles and helps insure center visibility in financially troubled times.
Participants will learn techniques for preserving local histories, for collecting writing center oral histories, and brainstorm methods for collecting unique kinds of information to enhance individual writing center campus profiles. Participants will receive resource materials for collecting their writing centers' histories and will help develop guidelines for establishing a new section of the Writing Centers Research Project archives devoted to the history of the development of European Writing Centers.
WAC/WID and the Writing Center: Collaborating Internationally to Address Concerns
Leigh Ryan (University of Maryland, USA)
Lawrence Cleary (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Ide O'Sullivan (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Mary Deane (Coventry University, US)
Pamela B. Childers (The McCallie School, USA)
Sharifa Daniels (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Pamela Nichols (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)
Many writing centers around the world actively support their institutions’ WAC and WID programs, as well as other writing intensive programs. In doing so, they sometimes encounter difficulties in a variety of areas. While some concerns are common to writing center work globally, others are caused or defined by a particular context or culture--some aspects of which overlap nonetheless from writing center to writing center. This panel of international writing center administrators shares a common history of discussing successes and concerns about our writing center work, talking with one another separately and in groups, and as participants in the IWCA summer institutes. In this workshop, we will expand that conversation to bring in conference participants.
We will briefly share details about our Writing Centers, our Institutions’ WAC/WID and writing intensive programs, and the ways in which the two interact by answering the questions:
• “What role(s) does the writing center play in the WAC/WID/Writing Intensive program?”
• “What is a major concern or issue we face?”
Participants will select an issue to discuss in groups, each led by one or more presenters. Concerns/issues addressed will include:
1. Changing administrators, faculty, and students’ perceptions of the writing process and writing center work to build better relationships, especially with faculty, and to contribute toward more integrated, comprehensive roles in courses.
2. Use of technologies to teach writing in the disciplines (e.g. web conferencing to offer virtual one-to-one tutorials and online peer review to encourage students’ autonomy).
3. Creating a sustainable model for writing development in a context in which a writing ethos is still in the making and in which expertise in writing instruction is in short supply.
"WCOnline: The Customized, Online Scheduling, Record-keeping, and Reporting System for Writing Centers"
Richard Hay, The Rich Company, CEO, Wisconsin, USA
This presentation will offer information about and a demonstration of WCOnline--an online and completely customized record-keeping, scheduling, and reporting system for writing and academic support centers. Currently used by over 4,000 writing centers throughout the world, WCOnline provides a low cost method of managing a writing center, completely tailored to the needs of each and every location. Attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up for a thirty day, no-risk trial of WCOnline, as well as to find out information about the Writing Lab Newsletter--a peer-reviewed forum for the exchange of ideas and information about writing centers that is also managed by the makers of WCOnline.
Merde in Other Words: Cultural Miscues and Humor in a WAC-Based Writing Center
Steven Sherwood (Texas Christian University, USA)
Pamela Childers (The McCallie School, USA)
Comical misunderstandings rooted in language and culture form the heart of Stephen Clarke’s novel A Year in the Merde. One exchange between a British businessman and his French colleagues, for instance, highlights the Brit’s confusion at a proposed advertising slogan—“My Tea Is Rich”—a pun on “My tailor is rich,” which his colleagues insist is a typical English expression.
“It’s not,” the Brit insists.
“But French people think it is,” his colleagues reply. Hence the humor.
As in A Year in the Merde, comical misunderstandings based on differences in disciplinary language, culture, and levels of knowledge form the heart of humor in WAC-based writing centers. As members of various disciplines mix, they often fail in their attempts to communicate intentions clearly, often because they literally speak different languages or because their disciplines differ so dramatically that they do not share assumptions or central precepts. Although the goal of writing tutorials is, eventually, to achieve a common understanding about a particular writer’s composing processes, comical misunderstanding can serve a number of purposes that may lead to this ultimate goal. Indeed, to humor theorists such as D.H. Monro, differences that lead to miscues, misconceptions, and misunderstandings are central to the mechanisms of incongruity and impropriety that make acts and utterances funny. Fortunately, considering the potential for humor in writing center interactions, humorous misunderstandings can result in the sharing of laughter, which may help tutor and student bond with one another, open some common ground on which to build further communication, blend ideas from different disciplines in creative and useful ways, and possibly lead to fruitful changes in perspective. In plainer words, misunderstanding can lead through humor to understanding. This workshop will explore the potential for productive humor through initial cultural and cross-disciplinary misunderstandings in a WAC-based writing center.
Writing center work across generations
Franziska Liebetanz (European University Viadrina, Germany)
Gerd Brauer (University of Education, Freiburg Germany, EWCA Board)
Katrin Girgenshohn (European University Viadrina, Germany)
Mandy Pydde (European University Viadrina, Germany)
Simone Tschirpke (European University Viadrina, Germany)
At European universities writing center work is still new. In Germany the first writing center opened in 1993 at the University of Bielefeld. Today, we can proudly say, we have over a dozen well-functioning writing centers in higher education in Germany. After several years of writing center practice in most sites we already have people working in writing centers who had their first contacts with writing centers as tutees during their undergraduate studies.
In this presentation, we want to shed light onto this change of generations: What is happening between those who founded the writing centers and trained their successors and following generations? How have they been working together and what changed in the course of their collaboration with regard to knowledge about writing center pedagogy and hands-on experience? What can they still learn from each other while they prepare the transition to the next generation of writing center leaders?
Several years ago, Katrin Girgensohn, writing center director at the Viadrina Writing Center (Germany), was educated by Gerd Bräuer (formerly Emory University/US, now Freiburg/Germany). She then started her own writing center and trained students as peer writing tutors. These three generations are now collaborating in a project where graduate students initiate regional high school writing center work. Katrin Girgensohn wrote the grant proposal. Gerd Bräuer is in charge of evaluating the project. High school students, trained by Katrin's writing center team as peer writing tutors, will soon be challenged to train their own peers as writing tutors and pass on their knowledge and experience. The torch of writing center wisdom is about to start travelling along generations here as well.
In our presentation we want to take a look at specific changes that occurred in the material used for training writing tutors, both on the university and the high school level. When Gerd Bräuer (2009) adapted the material, he had to take into account resisting school administrators and teachers suspicious about having to give up power to the writing center. When Katrin's graduate students adapted the Freiburg training material for their project they saw themselves approached by enthusiastic high school students wanting to become writing tutors and by teachers approaching them about helping them to set up high school writing centers.
For the next three years, 11th grade students once a semester will come to the university for three days to get trained as peer tutors. This kick-off-event includes overnight stay at the nearby partner university in Poland and several group bonding experiences, following Girgensohn's research findings (2007) about the relevance of the social factor for writing education. Afterwards, high school students will set up writing consultations in their own schools. The project is prepared and managed completely by graduate students working at the university’s writing center.
Grimm's Conceptual Frameworks at a Twenty-First-Century Writing/Learning Center
Amanda L. Granrud (University of Nebraska Kearney, USA)
This talk revisits Nancy Grimm’s fall 2008 keynote address and fall 2009 WCJ article—both titled “New Conceptual Frameworks for Writing Center Work.” The talk imagines what Grimm might say about my leadership style of “purposeful, participatory looseness”; where my consultants think we fit among Grimm’s three writing centers; and what her three frameworks could mean for the Learning Commons we plan to open in fall 2010. This closer reading of Grimm’s address is aimed at better understanding some of the practical implications and immediate possibilities for twenty-first-century writing/learning centers. Questions to be discussed include:
“Framework 1: A Twenty-First-Century Writing Center Works Within the Context of Global Englishes.” How might a writing/learning center embrace multilingualism in ways that are substantive, meaningful and sustainable? How might a center foster mutual, fair, and gratifying relationships among writers and consultants? How might a center reach beyond its real and perceived boundaries to engage the university in conversations about linguistic bigotry and multilingualism?
“Framework 2: In a Twenty-First-Century Writing Center, Literacy Is Understood as the Ability to Negotiate More Than One Discourse System and More Than One Mode of Representation.”
What role/s might a writing/learning center play in helping teachers and learners alike negotiate a multitude of discourses, as implied by the New London Group’s definition of literacy? How else might center directors and consultants promote and practice flexibility?
“Framework 3: A Twenty-First-Center Writing Center Understands Students as ‘the Designers of Social Futures.’”
What role/s might a writing/learning center play in supporting students who are working to identify, explain, critique, and transgress systemic values and power structures? How might or must centers open themselves up to critique and transformation?
Developing Students’ Academic Writing Skills: A Model for a More Coherent Approach
Lawrence Smith (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education, Prague, Czech Republic)
Lawrence Smith (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education, Prague, Czech Republic)
Many international students join English medium university programs with a good command of the language but with little knowledge and/or experience of the specific academic skills that they will be expected to develop or perform. One of the most problematic areas that students have to deal with in their academic writing is that of the dreaded literature review. This is especially so when considering that students come from many different countries and cultures with varied educational and academic backgrounds and expectations. Problems often stem from an initial lack of focus, a perception of what their paper is actually setting out to do, what their contribution is and why their research is therefore needed. It is not surprising then, that faculty often complain about the quality of literature review sections in student papers. To address these problems a critical literature review course was developed that involved both English instructors and disciplinary specific faculty in providing support, help, guidance, and content expertise. The idea of establishing the course and to foster communication and cooperation with disciplinary specific faculty came at the initiative of English department instructors. It is argued that it is through such cooperation and collaboration that a more coherent approach to the teaching of the literature review and to the development of students’ academic writing skills can be achieved. It is also argued that writing centers need to take the initiative in approaching an academic department, have close communication and cooperation with the department and, even more importantly, offer services that are clearly perceived as relevant and useful to both students and members of faculty.
Communication Across Curricula: Creating Collaborative Spaces for Teaching Multimodal Critical Thinking
Alissa Ehrenkranz (Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada)
In our program, we strive to meet the challenges of a multi-literate world by creating a multimedia writing-to-learn curricula in spaces rather than specific places, incorporating multiple discourses and genres, collaborating across disciplines and within a shared knowledge economy. As an entry point, we focused on the development critical thinking skills as the goal of our literacy program.
We have developed an internal series of Moodle applications to articulate the writing process, using the University of Amsterdam findings to scaffold the problem-solving activities. Through a series of software-based templates, uploaded video segments, annotated Chat, and collaborative use of Wikis, we provide the students with the tools to understand their own meaning making process within an analytic format. The students construct their text, or hypertext, or media-based content within a meta-cognitive context.
To measure the efficacy of our program, we have collected examples of text production from our cohort and measured the increase of critical thinking skills through the elaboration of concepts across a range of identified cognitive activities. To date, we have the results from ANOVA study that identify a positive correlation between our program and an increase in meta-cognitive skills related to the writing process. Further research is underway to find the specific agents of change.
By Writers for Writers: A collaboratively constructed model of the writing process
Sarah Haas (Leuven, Belgium)
This presentation is intended for people who are interested in helping student-writers understand, and take control of, their writing processes.
It is believed that understanding one’s writing process will help one take control of that process, rather than be immobilised by it (Elbow,1998). A method that has been successful in facilitating this understanding is presenting students with a model of the writing process (Dean, 2009). However, most models are designed by experts on writing, rather than by student-writers themselves. As such, they might not prove as useful as hoped.
This presentation will discuss how one international, mixed-gender group of MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) writers, finding established models of the writing process unsatisfactory, collaboratively constructed their own model. The presenter will first describe how the group worked together to construct the model, then she will demonstrate how the members used the model in their Writer Development workshops.
Data collected were audio-recordings of writers’ group meetings, members’ reflective journals, questionnaires and interviews. Results indicated that the development and use of the writing process model helped the student writers understand their own writing processes better, and helped them take control of the writing process. Specifically, the awareness of their writing process helped the writers move on with the process when they found themselves “stuck.” The model was also used by the students to establish a common language for talking about writing, and to help them understand and articulate their in-process feedback needs.
This model is descriptive rather than prescriptive. As such, it has subsequently been used with other groups of writers not as a set formula that is to be taken as-is and imposed, but rather as a starting point from which groups or individual writers can discover, develop and use their own representations of their writing processes.
Writing, Writing Centers, and the Politics of Education
Filitsa Sofianou-Mullen (The American University in Bulgaria, EWCA Board member)
As teachers of writing and as directors or tutors of writing centers we make constant choices about content in courses, readings assigned, methodology used, assessment tools employed, interpersonal communication, and the optimal form and value of written communication. Yet too often we forget that our choices are in essence political.
How are education and politics connected? At the American University in Bulgaria we have observed that our personal educational choices are urged by three other types of politics:
1. National politics of education. Our students come from a diversity of countries but all these countries have in common the heavy hand of a centrally dictated (and often decades-long) educational system, typically conservative and elitist (albeit formerly communist in most cases). As instructors and tutors we try to dis-engage our students from the stilted and vague writing habits prized by their national educational systems. And this attempt on our parts is in itself political.
2. Institutional politics. What is a given institution’s policy on writing and communication? What pedagogical school does the institution subscribe to and where do its influences come from? At AUBG, whose mission is to prepare students for civic and professional contributions to an ever-enlarging world, the institution’s politics on education are democratic and inclusive and are founded on the principles of critical thinking. This means that communication must be direct and fair, devoid of any vagueness and verbosity. The structure of essays and speeches must be obvious and clear, the communicator must always be aware of the audience’s needs and attitudes.
3. International politics. Is there a perceived “superior” educational culture that we aspire to? To what extent are our institutional and personal choices as teachers and tutors the result of borrowing from elsewhere? And how fitting are these choices for our location, our student body, and the way we personally (as well as institutionally) perceive the role of education in a globalized world? In our case the influence of American education on AUBG is obvious and, in fact, desirable. But how well does it serve our students and our own purposes?
The above distinctions are especially valid when we discuss writing centers and their presence in (or absence from) our institutions. How likely is a university (or other educational setting) to adopt or continue to support a writing center? In the classic European setting, writing centers are perceived as high schoolish and remedial. Students are supposed to come into the university already able to communicate. In some cases, even if they can’t, that is not significant because most communication originates and ends with the professor. Similarly most institutions in Europe see the writing center as an American import and therefore may resist it more for that reason, aware of the implications of cultural imperialism. Even in American affiliated institutions with already existing writing centers we may see changes in institutional attitudes towards writing centers in the face of the current economic crisis and other budget cuts. How can we, then, convince colleagues and administrators of the value of writing centers? The answer is, through insistence on the value of twenty-first century communication for our students’ professional and personal success. And this value becomes more evident when we, as instructors and tutors, become more aware of the political implications of our choices and our vision of the future of education.
The Good, the Bad and the Writer
Ingrid Stassen (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands)
In 2003 the national ombudsman in the Netherlands observed problems on quality of replies from government to citizen’s letters. An interdepartmental plan aimed to production of clear audience oriented texts has been set up. Research in 2007 recorded improvements, but still quality lacks. This paper proposes to describe the results of a case study in 2009 on answers by government officials to letters from citizens written to the Department of Education, Culture and Science. The aim of the study was to explore the interventions ‘feedback’ and ‘revision’ during the writing process. Content-analysis and interviews showed major difficulties with audience orientation, style and content of the answer letter. Most of the given feedback by government officials of the same department focused on content, usage and vocabulary. The feedback mainly was presented as replacing of passages in the text in order to solve a specific writing problem. Furthermore the desired feedback by the writers mainly agreed the perceived feedback. The writers used almost all the feedback to accommodate their letters. There was a distinction between revision of text sections causing the writer problems during drafting phases and revision of ‘no problem areas’. Nearly all the feedback on ‘no problem areas’ has been used to revise the text whereas a part of the feedback on text sections causing trouble to the writer during draft versions, was neglected. Except for revisions based on feedback there were hardly any rewritings.
These results may deliver clues for training of professional writing for government officials, other professionals and for students: appropriate feedback-interventions on more complicated written interactions seem indispensable to revise the text on goal- and audience-oriented aspects. Further research to explore the revising of ‘problem areas’ in a more quantitative and accurate approach could deliver input for training of reviewers, writing coaches and writing center tutors.
Encouraging intercultural academic writing skills in binational writing partnerships
Melanie Brinkschulte (Göttingen University, Germany)
Ella Grieshammer (Göttingen University, Germany)
Annett Mudoh (Göttingen University, Germany)
Since March 2009, Göttingen University has been offering a university-wide program to encourage students’ intercultural skills. This project which is called InDIGU (Integration and Diversity at Göttingen University) is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and offers students of all disciplines the opportunity to gain a certificate. The certificate is awarded for an intercultural skills training and also practical parts in which students transfer their knowledge from theory to practice. One possibility for the students transferring their knowledge is to take part in writing partnerships for academic writing in German: A native and a nonnative student build an engaging academic writing partnership in which they develop their academic writing skills and learn to reflect on their writing process on an intercultural basis.
Students’ work in the intercultural academic writing partnerships is embedded in a blended learning concept which combines face-to-face writing tutoring by professionals with e-learning components. In a web-based learning management system participants get various tasks to write academic texts collaboratively, give each other feedback and are guided to reflect on their academic writing processes. The writing partners document and discuss their experiences in writing in another writing tradition and in writing in academic German in a shared e-portfolio.
This workshop will present the methodology of academic writing partnerships and illustrate, based on students’ text and feedback samples, how students can develop academic writing skills on an intercultural basis. Participants will be invited to try out some e-learning exercises in which they reflect on their experiences in academic writing in intercultural contexts. The results of these exercises will be discussed.
The workshop offers some ideas for participants who are interested in establishing similar programs for engaging students to reflect on their academic writing process in different writing traditions.
Using Wikis in Training and to Support Reflective Practice in the Writing Centre
Lynn Reynolds (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Kathy Harrington (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Peter O’Neill (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Savita Bakhshi (London Metropolitan University, UK)
The Writing Centre at London Metropolitan University was launched in 2006 as part of the Write Now Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (http://www.writenow.ac.uk). It is a high-quality scheme which uses peer mentoring and a non-directive, non-hierarchical approach to enhance students’ relationship with academic writing. Mentor training is compulsory and is delivered in short, intense sessions designed to equip trainees to quickly become competent and able to participate in a professional environment of ongoing reflective practice.
Since 2007, wikis have been used by the Writing Centre to support and encourage reflective practice and also to establish a virtual community where mentors may collaborate on the authorship of writing-related resources, presentations and newsletters. The wikis have consistently played an important social role for mentors who have often been unable to meet in person, and, among other unanticipated outcomes, have provided a space ideally suited to furthering disciplinary competence through ‘provisional’ writing.
This workshop will explore the use of wikis to support reflective practice in the Writing Centre setting. Writing Mentors will be present to discuss their experiences of using online technology in this way, and Writing Centre staff will share their thoughts on the challenges and practicalities of wikis as a training tool.
Additionally, delegates will collaborate on the production of a knowledge base of diverse ways in which wiki technology may be used to support training and writing development in different contexts.
“ ‘And, lovely, learn by going where to go’: Mapping the Faculty Tutor Journey at Vancouver Island University”
Dale Wik (Vancouver Island University, Canada)
The Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Project developed by Kail, Gillespie, and Hughes provides evidence for the benefits, both in a postsecondary institution and in the workplace after graduation, of tutoring in a writing center. But because peer tutors are students with a largely transient relationship to their Alma Mater, these benefits are necessarily personal rather than institutional. Faculty tutors, however, many with decades of teaching experience at the same institution, have a more permanent investment in the institution and its policies as well as some, albeit limited, ability to influence the direction of writing initiatives on campus. In other words, if tutoring in the writing centre transforms faculty tutors in significant ways (as it does peer tutors) the benefits are likely to be not only personal, a form of individual professional development, but also manifested in a wide sphere of influence in the writing centre and in the classroom, ultimately capable of shaping the writing culture on campus. This is the speculation that I set out to explore during the research leave that I was granted from Vancouver Island University in 2009.
I interviewed faculty tutors, most from the English Department, some from areas as diverse as Nursing and Criminology, many having tutored for a number of semesters in the VIU Writing Center, to determine three things: what they had learned about students while tutoring, how they perceived the tutoring relationship in comparison to the teaching relationship, and in what ways this awareness had informed and transformed their professional practice as instructors and as agents of change on campus. The surprise element, and possibly the most important discovery, came about serendipitously: I discovered that faculty tutors’ attitudes to tutoring had shifted over the semesters, from an orientation of functionality or instrumentality perhaps best described as a focus on the “business” of the tutorial, to an approach in which the tutorial relationship gains, and sometimes achieves, sufficiency: no longer a means to an end but an end in itself.
During my presentation, I would like to share details of interviews with faculty tutors, my analysis of research findings and their implications, and suggested areas for future research.
According to the Writing Center Research Project, professional and faculty tutors comprise only about 2% of all tutors in writing centers, excluding community college centers (Gardner and Rousculp). Given that centers staffed by faculty tutors are rare, one might very well ask whether there is any point in studying faculty tutors at all. I think that the field itself provides the answer in the subtle and subversive ways in which a field begins to explore the possibility of change: whispers of discontent, murmurings of dissent. With the challenge of an emerging field, writing center theorists and practitioners struggled for decades with the issue of marginalization. Is it possible that the next stage of our journey towards the center of the academy calls for a morphological or deep structural change to the way in which our centers are constituted? And could there be a quality of inevitability about it?
“”What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.”
Theodore Roethke, “The Waking”
Shaking Up and Waking Up: Reanimating the Writing Center-WAC Connection Through Tutor Training
Kathy Evertz (Carleton College, USA)
The emphases of many Writing Center tutor-training programs include basic instruction in treating writers professionally, talking about the writing process, asking generative questions, global and sentence-level revising, coping with difficult tutoring situations, and responding to writers with varied backgrounds and purposes for writing. The tutor-training program at our institution, a small, selective, liberal-arts college in Minnesota, also begins with these topics and issues.
However, we have found that these general issues are not entirely sufficient for supporting students writing across the curriculum. This presentation describes how the Carleton College Writing Center has connected to two important grant-funded, WAC-oriented curricular initiatives. “Viz” (Visualizing the Liberal Arts) aims to develop “innovative ways to address the challenges that faculty, students, and staff encounter as they work to create, interpret, and employ visual images, media, and models.” The focus of “QuIRK” (Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge) “is on how quantitative reasoning [QR] is used in the development, evaluation, and presentation of principled argument.” Both initiatives provide funding for faculty to develop new courses or redesign existing ones, and offer workshops to faculty in designing writing assignments for these courses.
To prepare our thirty-plus undergraduate writing consultants to work with and encourage students to think rhetorically when composing texts that either incorporate visual images or rely on quantitative writing to influence readers’ views of a topic, we arranged a series of tutor-training workshops led by faculty and staff involved in the two initiatives.
This presentation will discuss the logistics, pedagogical aims, and intended learning outcomes of these workshops. It will also address the significant challenge of sustainability in supporting WAC-related initiatives through tutor training.
Roses are red, violets are blue! Commonalities and Differences between European and US Writing Centers
Dilek Tokay (Sabanci University, Turkey, EWCA Board)
How tiring BUT exciting and satisfying Writing Center work is in European contexts, appreciating some US models in WID & WAC and growing with both local needs analysis and international networking!
For many of us in Writing Center work in European contexts, our past experiences in curriculum design, materials production, TA training, teaching, assessment/evaluation, and outreach help design activities, implement and evaluate them, and share the outcomes with other institutions and individuals, actively getting involved in networking for growth and international enrichment. The circumstances, needs, and approaches of each writing center may be different, but the ultimate aims are similar: to be functional at the crossroads of communities of learning for innovation, excellence in learning outcomes, and better oral and written, AND international communications across the disciplines within academia and beyond.
The focus in this session is threefold expressive of the functions of writing centers:
I. To present the steps in the formation of a SAMPLE ten-year-old university writing center in Istanbul with highlights on its composition, implementations, and SWOT analysis of 5 programs, TA training, and outreach
II. To collect the descriptions of the participants’ practice on a checklist and orally with a column: "In your Case", within the frame of the items presented in the SAMPLE SU Writing Center [distributed to participants in Focus I]: composition, implementations, and SWOT analysis, which would stimulate interaction on how the rationale, logistics, pedagogical strategies, and practice may have commonalities and differences
III. To review similarities and differences in the European and US contexts considering innovation, learning outcomes, teacher empowerment, and collect suggestions/action plans on any matter that seems to be a concern or an obstacle for writing centers’ growth on a "Resolutions Sheet" distributed to the participants.
Blogging to Learn: using blogs to develop academic writing
Halina Harvey (University of Huddersfield, UK)
Gillian Byrne (University of Huddersfield, UK)
New media, particularly social networking/blogging has exploded in popularity in recent years. In contrast with earlier manifestations of the web, which cast the user as merely the consumer of content, this new incarnation encourages, if not demands, that content be generated by “the people formerly known as the audience” (Rosen, 2006). This enthusiasm to express oneself in written form is tantalising for the educator who sees much reticence to do the same within an academic context. The challenge to educators therefore, is to harness this writing activity and to use it to promote skills development. Although this is still a relatively new technology, blogs are beginning to be explored within the Higher Education sector as a vehicle for the development of writing skills with some success (Mason and Rennie, 2008).
The literature has suggested, and our experience concurs, there is a positive developmental relationship between writing and thinking and learning. Regular writing practice ‘promotes thinking, learning and communication’ (Bjork et al, 2003, p. 9). The benefits of reflective thinking and writing in relation to skills development are also well documented in the literature (Moon, 1999; King, 2002). Indeed, the skill of reflection is highlighted with in the UK QAA benchmarking statement for postgraduate students (QAA, 2007). However, traditional models of Learning Development within our institution have failed to engender the practice of regular, formative writing. In order to address this issue, an embedded model was developed using new media in the form of a blogging tool. The aim was to encourage a culture of critical and reflective writing, across post-graduate courses in the Business School.
In collaboration with subject tutors, formative writing development closely linked to module teaching and assessment was delivered within subject specific modules. This process was supported by the use of a Virtual Learning Environment blog tool which was used to extend the classroom in order to provide reticent writers with the time and private space in which to explore their learning and develop their writing skills.
This presentation will describe and, through the use of student feedback questionnaires, evaluate this embedded model, suggesting that regular writing is essential in the development of skills and learning, especially amongst international student cohorts. Using illustrative examples it will detail and assess the use of blogs to support the students in weekly writing tasks encouraging both regular writing practice and reflection on themselves as independent learners. It will suggest that although many students are regular users of this technology in their personal lives, the transition to its use in education is not an automatic one. Issues surrounding privacy and unfamiliarity with the technology need to be addressed alongside explicit teaching that aims to scaffold the reflective writing process.
The Cyborg in the Writing Center: Online Tutoring, Kenneth Burke, and Donna Haraway
Doug Dangler (The Ohio State University, USA)
The advent of computer technology in the Writing Center has forced administrators, tutors, and clients to reconsider what they do and how they do it. The construction of a new metaphor for online interactions suggests better ways to interact online. To this end, this presentation presents the idea of the Fluid Cyborg, a combination of the theories of Kenneth Burke and Donna Haraway, as a means to explain and anticipate online tutoring behavior. The objective is to have tutors foreground malleable notions of identity when online so that they may more effectively aid clients. Tutorials are interpreted via Kenneth Burke's termanistic screens and Haraway's notion of the inevitability and ultimate desirability of the mixture of human and machine in online interactions.
This presentation will demonstrate the utility of applying critical theory from Kenneth Burke and Donna Haraway to online tutoring, specifically from Instant Messaging (IM) systems. Based on a year of observations of online tutoring, the results suggest that tutors with more fluid notions of themselves online were able to more readily assist clients online, whereas more rigid self-formulations led to more constrained tutorials. To this end, the notion of the Fluid Cyborg is presented, a construction that foregrounds adaptability and flexibility in tutoring.
Student/Faculty Views of Creativity: Implications for Writing Centers and WAC Programs
Julie Neff-Lippman (University of Puget Sound, USA)
Irene Clark (California State University Northridge, USA)
Cathy Hale ((University of Puget Sound, USA)
In Creativity and Beyond, Robert Weiner discusses the value placed on the concept of creativity, noting that “people from all walks of life and all economic classes—seem to want to be viewed as creative in some respect” (2). In the context of the academy, however, creativity is generally more often associated with the arts—music, theatre, painting, sculpture, and poetry-- than it is with academic writing. In the context of WAC programs and writing centers, we seldom if ever hear that students are being sent to the writing center or referred to a WAC course to improve their creativity. Many faculty and writing center professionals would claim that textual conventions and generic appropriateness seem to leave little room for imagination, innovation, individuality—all words associated with creativity. Nevertheless, recent, theoretical work in creativity and its relation to genre (the work of Bawarshi, Christie, and Devitt, for example) suggests that generic appropriateness and creativity are not incompatible, and that successful academic writing embodies and diverges from generic requirements.
Speaker #1: "Developing Notions of Creativity in Academic Writing: How student and faculty perceptions of creativity differ.” This speaker will report on surveys administered to first year students, seniors, and peer writing advisors about their ideas of creativity as it relates to academic writing as well as on interviews conducted with faculty from across disciplines. While each group claims to value creativity, the results of the surveys and interviews demonstrate that there are significant differences in the way in which the groups view how to achieve creativity in the academic writing. What do these differences mean for work with academic writing in the writing center and in WAC programs? How might awareness of these differences benefit students, peer writing advisors, and faculty as they negotiate the challenges of academic discourse? Using the results of the interviews and surveys, panelist 1 will attempt to answer these questions and raise others about creativity and genre in the context of writing centers and WAC programs.
Speaker #2: “Perspectives on Creativity from Composition and WAC Faculty,” will discuss the results of surveys administered to first year students enrolled in a generic composition course, composition faculty who teach the course, and faculty across the disciplines who assign writing in their courses. The presentation will focus on the extent to which faculty value creativity in academic texts on how these groups define creativity, and on the textual features that are considered significant contributors to a text’s creativity. In terms of composition courses, the presentation will discuss differences noted among composition faculty about the role of creativity in developmental writing as opposed to academic writing in general and advanced writing courses. Given these differing perspectives, should creativity be considered at all in writing center work?
Speaker #3: "What Students and Faculty Say about Creativity in Psychology Research Papers and Why They Say It" will examine the parameters of creativity in student research papers within the discipline of psychology, the format of which is highly defined and determined by APA guidelines. This presentation explores how creativity is manifested in student research papers from the perspectives of psychology professors and from sophomore and senior psychology majors. Based on developmental psychological theories, the presentation will examine developmental changes in college students’ abilities and attitudes toward creativity in writing, as well as offer an explanation based on research in cognitive neuroscience for these developmental changes. The panelist also will discuss the implications of this developmental cognitive neuroscience approach for academic student writing and for the roles of WAC programs and Writing Centers in fostering developmental changes in students’ creative writing.
Paving the Path to Transformation: Developing a Strategy to Launch WAC at Your Institution
Catherine Savini (Westfield State College, USA)
No two universities are alike. The unique culture of each university makes it difficult, even impossible, to codify a specific set of guidelines to develop a WAC program. How then does one go about getting WAC off the ground?
This interactive workshop will lead participants to develop a specific strategy to launch WAC in their own unique environments. Specifically, we will discuss the theory of path dependence and how it applies to the development of new WAC programs, consider the challenge of transforming our universities writing cultures, explore the potential of small changes, and examine the role of the writing center in implementing WAC. Participants will leave the workshop with the following: 1. a better understanding of how their institutions’ history might limit their current options; 2. a list of possible WAC initiatives, big and small; 3. a long-term strategy for implementing small changes toward transformation, including changes that can originate in the writing center.
An Assessment of Middle-Eastern Writing Center Tutorials
Maria Eleftheriou (American Univeristy of Sharjah, UAE)
The writing center occupies a unique position in education. In North America, most colleges, universities and high schools today provide writing centers to assist English native speakers or those who are pursuing English-as-a-second-language (ESL) programs.
Writing centers are still relatively new in the Middle-East, but they are starting to gain popularity. Many universities in the Middle-East such as the American University of Sharjah and the United Arab Emirates University, College of the North Atlantic in Qatar and the University of Bahrain have recognized the need for the type of writing assistance that writing centers can provide and have established centers to promote and improve student writing skills.
In keeping with current writing center philosophy, the American University of Sharjah Writing Center promotes a student-centred approach. The philosophical approach of Writing Centers has always been based on a student-centred or a Socratic model. This inductive approach assumes the students have the resources to answer their own questions, solve their own problems, and learn through self-discovery. Studies have shown this type of collaborative approach to be beneficial to students, but most of this research has focused on native speakers of English and ESL students in a North American context. Students who receive writing center assistance in English speaking universities in the Middle East are often not familiar with the rhetoric of English or with the type of active learning and discussion typically promoted in these tutorials and may require a different type of assistance with their writing than is typically given in North American writing center tutorials.
A qualitative study is currently being conducted on ESL writing center tutorial practices at the AUS Writing Center. In this paper, I will discuss the types of writing tutorial strategies that are successful with clientele in the context of a Middle-Eastern university writing center where the language of instruction is English.
It is hoped that a better understanding of the types of strategies that are effective with ESL students in the Middle-East will help writing centers in the region and in international writing centers provide improved writing assistance to their students.
Writing Centre Data: a means towards curriculum-based writing solutions
Wendy Smeets (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
Julian Brasington (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
The Writing Centre at Liverpool Hope University has, with the support of the Write Now CETL, run a writing tutorial programme since 2006. The programme is staffed by both professional tutors and peer tutors and has, since its inception in 2006, run over 2,000 tutorials and worked with 1,200 writers. With tutorials averaging sixty minutes, they provide an invaluable window through which to explore student writers’ engagement with academic literacies.
Highlighting conflicts of voice and identity, uncertainties over the purpose and handling of source materials, and epistemological insecurities as evidenced through discussions of task interpretation, as well as the more prosaic question of citation protocol, the tutorials have enabled the Writing Centre to feedback to departments as a means towards developing curriculum-based solutions. In order to formalise this strategy, a systematic analysis of tutorial records was conducted in order to identify aspects of the student writing experience which could be addressed institutionally and within departments both at Hope and, potentially, across the HE sector. SPSS was employed to establish correlations between student profile and identified needs, tutorial focus, uptake and feedback; emergent themes were then explored through thematic analysis of open-form comments on feedback and tutorial record forms in order to provide a richer interpretation of student satisfaction and tutorial focus.
Preliminary findings suggest that the one of the main foci for tutorials is task interpretation (30%). This information has helped explore a number of staff development initiatives as well as a Writing Programme Design Initiative aimed at improving student experience with regards to task briefs and task interpretation.
We hope this presentation will serve to illustrate how data collection and analysis can shift writing centres from the periphery to the centre of debate around curriculum and task design thus building a case for prolonged writing support at HE level.
Academic literacies versus rhetoric and composition: Creating and developing a writing tradition for an Irish higher education
Ide O'Sullivan (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Lawrence Cleary (University of Limerick, Ireland)
We tend to think of US and European writing pedagogy as springing from fundamentally divergent historical contexts. Consequently, it is not surprising that their pedagogical foundations are grounded in what are sometimes profoundly differing values. Given these competing traditions and the multiple and varied options available to those wishing to offer more systematic writing initiatives to their student and/or staff populations, writing support practitioners are confronted with many challenging decisions when choosing an appropriate approach to the development of writing. Ivanič and Lea (2006: 14) remind writing programme developers that choosing one pedagogical theory of writing over another “is always a political act”, even if it is rarely recognised as such. It is more than just quibbling about which feature of the writing process to favour (Berlin 1982: 765): “To teach writing is to argue for a version of reality, and the best way of knowing and communicating it” (766). In the absence of a writing tradition or models for responding to the writing needs of students, such decisions prove even more challenging in the Irish higher education context.
This paper explores the influence of these two seemingly divergent traditions on the development of a systematic approach to the development of writing in one higher education institution in Ireland, namely the University of Limerick, and uncovers how these two traditions, once seen as competing, can come together to facilitate the same end: respond to the multiplicity of needs of our student writers and produce scholars who are able to achieve their writing goals, thus developing a writing tradition suitable to the Irish context. This approach reveals much about the politics we advocate and the vision of reality inherent in our approach.
How to convince my professor of the importance of a writing center? The challenge of communication in a hierarchical context
Patrick Kowal (European University Viadrina, Germany)
Ariane Hoyer (European University Viadrina, Germany
Sebastian Schönbeck (European University Viadrina, Germany
Our writing center (at European University Viadrina) is aiming to work in an interdisciplinary way with all people involved of our three faculties. This shall improve the way our writing center is perceived and recognized by all students and lecturers. When trying to connect with lecturers in some of our projects, we were confronted with different kinds of understanding. While some lecturers are pleased with our offers for students, others react rather sceptically.
We would like to explain how this skepticism may have developed out of communication problems between writing tutors and lecturers who have not experienced yet the work and the aim of our writing center. Such communication problems occasionally arise within the so-called communication context, in which a student writing tutor introduces the work of the writing center to an experienced professor with the aim to explain the possibilities that can be used to improve a student's academic writing skills.
In such a situation the writing tutor should consider two issues. First, the interpersonal level. A professor who is well informed about the field of academic writing might feel insulted by a student tutor trying to teach him how to improve academic competence. The second issue is the semantic level. People involved in the same discourse often use certain vocabularies from that field and assume that their meanings are easy to understand. However, this assumption may lead to some misunderstanding if two experts from different disciplines meet to discuss a topic. It is possible that both are talking about writing, the writing process, the introduction and writing exercises but everyone understands these context related words differently.
To sum up, in our presentation we intend to sensitize writing tutors or other writing lecturers to discourses with lecturers from other faculties and the difficulties that might arise in such situations.
“(Re)Thinking Collaboration, Autonomy, and Control While (Re) Addressing Issues of ‘Marginalization’”
Crystal Bickford (Nichols College, USA)
Traditionally, American writing centers have voiced confusion (sometimes unknowingly or unwillingly) over issues of marginalization, autonomy, and collaboration. At one level, there are a variety of writing centers who fear marginalization and the perception of being placed in a location (both physically and intellectually) apart from the academy’s academic curriculum. Other writing centers embrace the autonomy that marginalization provides. After all, autonomy allows writing center directors to develop programming in their best interest with their available resources with little to no higher administrative pressures. However, if writing centers are truly based upon the motto of collaboration (Lunsford 1995; Childers 2004; Carino 1995; Smith 2003; Harris 1992), then achieving a sense of self-management and engagement with the institution is possible, and in many cases, encouraged. The goal of this workshop is to encourage participants to find a healthy combination of collaboration and autonomy.
This hands-on workshop will first encourage participants to examine how marginalization, autonomy, and/or collaboration are influencing management decisions within their own institutions. By defining and applying these terms to their own centers while reviewing texts that also explore these identity issues (Ferruci, 2006; Kinkead, 1996; Perdue, 1991), participants will be able to explore the benefits and disadvantages of these models and philosophies – both individually and combined. In short, this conversation can “…uncover and challenge the assumptions that we and others have about the role of the writing center and how this work and these assumptions tie in with the rest of what occurs at the college” (Gladstein, 2007, p. 212).
The presenter will then explore the benefits of fostering faculty/tutor relationships and then share several successful strategies used at Nichols College in Dudley, MA, where curriculum-based tutoring (including a writing consultants program), research projects including both tutors and faculty members, and facilitating administration/tutor dialogue has allowed the writing center to gain a stronger presence in school-wide curriculum and programming. Additionally, the use of writing center collaboration with other administrative offices (including the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, Vice-President of Student Services, and Admissions) will also be shared.
This participatory session will then guide participants through a brainstorming process. Working with one another, they will discover ways in which similar initiatives (as well as ones unique to their institutions) can be developed and implemented. This discovery process should provide a foundation that can be further explored with others (i.e., tutors, colleagues, administrative staff members, etc.) when they return to their home institutions.
Online Tutor Training: A Critical Reflection
Heather Lunsford (University of Phoenix, USA)
Ellen Wolterbeek Yarborough (University of Advancing Technology, USA)
With the need to help more distance students and to reach a wider student population across the globe, many writing centers have turned to the Internet to provide writing assistance. A few schools provide fully online writing assistance such as the University of Phoenix and the University of Advancing Technology. Online writing centers have many challenges with providing effective writing assistance. One challenge is the ability to find, train, and maintain good online tutors. This multi-presenter panel will identify best practices for training tutors who work in online writing centers, drawing from the experiences of two online writing center directors at widely different institutions. This session will address the hiring and managing of tutors, discuss types of tutors and the training processes, recommend training tools and performance improvement plans, review tutor schedules, provide options for dealing with tutor isolation, and recommend how to use tutors to create community through the use of the online writing center.
What can students’ literacy practices teach us about writing development?
Weronika Gorska (King's College London, UK)
What does it take to write an academic paper? Within the UK higher education, institutional answer and faculty advice on this question usually comes in the form of extracurricular English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes, study skills courses or 1:1 tutorials with a writing instructor (Scott & Lillis, 2007; Wingate, 2006). This approach assumes that a) surface text level, grammatical correctness and familiarity with referencing systems are key elements in academic writing, and that b) genres and disciplinary conventions can be taught separately from the subject content and then applied to any discipline in the academia. Having this in mind, it is interesting to notice that academic assessors are likely to have a different approach, and that in the first place they focus not on whether a paper is grammatically correct and neatly structured, but if it follows the logic and epistemological frameworks of a given discipline.
In the UK higher education, where writing is a major form of assessment, being able to respond to academic writing requirements is a matter of succeeding at university or not (Jones et al, 1999; Lillis, 2001). This research-based chapter challenges both current models of writing support provision and public discourses on low academic standards of international students. The theoretical background of the chapter draws on the social views of language and literacy (Barton & Hamilton, 1998; Fairclough, 1993; Gee, 1990; Heath, 1983; Street, 1984), and in particular it employs an academic literacies approach as a heuristic for understanding academic writing requirements (Lea & Street, 1998). The discussion uses data from class observations, interviews with students, faculty members and writing tutors as well as the analysis of students’ texts. The examination of these data yields evidence that international students, not receiving sufficient writing support from the academia, actively seek their own ways to cross institutional, disciplinary and cultural boundaries in order to write academically approved papers. It will be argued that rather than focusing on discourses of ‘falling standards’, it would be more appropriate to focus on how international students negotiate academic literacy practices and what can be learnt from their ways with writing. It is hoped that this chapter will provide insight for teaching practice, and that it may inform the development of academic writing pedagogy.
A student-run writing centre (work in progress)
David F Dalton (Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE)
The Power of Body Language in Written Communication
Tugrul Atasoy (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
It is generally thought that nonverbal communication has great significance in oral communication. According to a survey conducted on about 2800 mid-to-top level management participants in the US, 93% of meaning carried through in casual verbal communication is done so by nonverbal communication cues (Bovée and Thill, 2010). However, there is little on the potential power of nonverbal communication in writing.
Nonverbal communication, commonly known as body language in oral channels, refers to eye contact, mimics and facial expressions, vocal characteristics, gestures, posture, touching behavior, time and space, all of which are used to reinforce, sometimes replace, meaning transported through words. The question, then, is how can nonverbal cues be used in writing?
Surprisingly for many, there are many tools (nonverbal, but different from nonverbal as used for oral communication) which can be used in writing also to convey the targeted meaning or special meanings, some of which are mentioned and illustrated in this presentation. Often we see written work expressed in a complicated and confusing, or in a dull and unstimulating way, both of which can make the reader lose track of the message, or worse, not be able to comprehend it as it was intended. The work itself may actually be of value in content, but because of the way it was expressed, it may lose from its impact. Thus, a presentation, oral or written, enhanced by effective nonverbal cues may mean the difference between acceptance or rejection, like or dislike, comprehension or miscomprehension. The main objective of this presentation is to raise awareness of the many nonverbal tools that writers can use to communicate the exact message that they want.
Writing and tutoring in English: How do European writing centers cope with the consequences of Bologna?
Elke van Cassel (Tilburg University, Netherlands)
Two of the primary goals of the Bologna Declaration were to boost student mobility and to increase the international competitiveness of European higher education. European higher education has indeed become increasingly international over the past decade. As a result, European universities offer an increasing number of English-taught Master’s and Bachelor’s programs.
A great deal has been written about the effects of the use of English in a classroom setting, but what does this development mean for European writing centers? This development is central to the idea of a European writing center; it sets us apart from US writing centers, where tutors are usually native speakers working with students who are typically writing in their native language.
In this workshop I would like to present our experiences at the Scriptorium, the academic writing center at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Tilburg University is one of three Dutch universities that offer their students the services of an academic writing center where peer tutors assist students with their writing assignments.
As is true of most Dutch universities, Tilburg University has extensive international ambitions. Currently 5 of its 22 Bachelor’s programs and 41 of its 52 Master’s programs are English-taught and about 7% of the student body consists of international students working towards a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree (800 out of a total of 11,900). Tilburg University’s goals are even more ambitious. Eventually the university wants 25% of its Bachelor’s students and 50% of its Master’s students to come from outside the Netherlands. As a result, English is becoming the lingua franca at Tilburg University. We see this in our classrooms, in our campus newspaper, at the cafeteria, and at the writing center.
What does this mean for our day-to-day operations? Of the 293 students our Dutch tutors met with in 2009, a majority of 158 was writing in English. Of these 158 students, 112 were native Dutch speakers. These are students who are thinking in Dutch, but writing in English, which means that writing and thinking oftentimes become separate processes, a distinction that is augmented when students discuss their text in Dutch during a tutoring session.
Working with English-language texts has become a special point of attention in the process of selecting and hiring our tutors and in our tutor training program. We practice with English-language texts, we have a special handout with frequently asked questions, and we have a list of useful resources available at the Scriptorium or online.
The articles and books that we use to prepare for tutoring students who are writing in English have primarily been written for an American context. I hope that this workshop will be a starting point for developing our own materials, for a European context.
The aim of this workshop is to:
• Hear from you how your writing center copes with the consequences of Bologna
• Bring together our knowledge and experience
• Share methods and materials and learn from each other
• Find out how we can adapt US methods and experiences to a European context
Transforming the American Model: Rethinking the Teaching of Writing for the 21st Century
Diane Martinez (Kaplan University, USA)
Kara Vandam (Kaplan University, USA)
Susan Carlson (Kaplan University, USA)
A unifying theme of the 2010 EWCA Conference is, “Can the American model be exported to Europe?” While the traditional American model has strengths, true integration requires adaptation and innovation. This paper captures Kaplan University’s experience re-imagining the American model to create a Writing Center and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program which are individualized, inclusive, and effective. It further chronicles the parallels of this experience to that of the Bologna Process, specifically with respect to making degrees transparent to accommodate changing demographics, increasing cross-border mobility of students and faculty, better preparing graduates for the workforce, and supporting while managing linguistic and cultural diversity.
Structural Modification of First Semester University Programme in Regard to Academic Writing Criteria: Collaboration with the Language Workshop
Lisa Bjernhager (Malmo University, Sweden)
In spring 2008 a project for developing students’ generic skills in writing and oral presentation was initiated at the Faculty of Health and Society, University of Malmö (Sweden). The project was a collaboration between teachers at the programme Social Pedagogy with the Elderly and teachers of writing and oral presentation from the Language Workshop.
The first semester, fall 2008, the writing, my part, was not enough integrated into the curriculum, something we improved during the spring semester. Another issue that came into discussion after the experience of the first semester was the fact that the students after only four to five weeks at the university have their first take home exam. In order to get a good result on the exam, the students are expected to more or less know and follow all criterias for academic writing. Even if this batch of students had got to know about and work with some of the criterias during the sessions with me, most of what was demanded was still new and unknown for them. This gave raise to questions in the programme’s teacher group about possible alternative ways of working with and introducing academic writing for new students. The questions were further discussed in a seminar with the teachers, were I brought up all the demands and expectations teachers (consciously or unconsciously) often have on students’ academic writing.
As a consequence of the experience from the project’s first semester, new ideas came up, especially thanks to Mats Höglund, during the spring semester of 2009, and plans started taking form about changing the organization of the first semester of the programme. After further elaboration of the plans the new organization was approved by the University Council, and put into effect with the new programme start in September 2009. Instead of consisting of four modules, which is the most common at Swedish universities, the first semester now consists of five modules. While the first four modules each are examined by minor exams instead of big take home exams, the fifth module is examined by a case study essay were course material from all the first four modules is to be used. The first four exams only focus on certain criteria of academic writing at the time. The last exam is bigger and also has more demands when it comes to following academic criteria.
As a result of the project and the collaboration between the teachers at the Social Pedagogy with the Elderly and the Language Workshop, new students at the programme, due to the change in organization of the first semester, get a ”softer” start. It’s a question of learning/teaching the academic way of writing, a kind of writing that includes many criteria that are difficult for new students to handle at the same time. By the organization into the five modules, a new way of thinking has been built into the programme, a thinking that better may serve the students’ development in academic writing.
The presentation will elaborate upon the main strategies used to reorganize the first semester of a course programme, analyzing how particular academic criteria may be successively built into the examination format, and demonstrating how this new approach contributes to the overall development of the students’ academic writing skills.
Evaluating Students’ Needs and Expectations
Nadine Scholz (Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany)
(Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany)
Benjamin Knopp (Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany)
Since opening its doors in 2009, the TU Darmstadt writing center has tutored nearly 140 students. A major goal of the writing lab is to provide all students with adequate help and support for any kind of writing task or writing obstacle. To do so, we seek to understand the needs and expectations of the students, which kinds of tutoring sessions best serve their needs and how to make these services available to them.
For a truly tailored session, the writing tutors must be specially trained and familiar with the main consultation questions. Therefore, we need to know what motivates most students to come to the writing centre.
We hope to better inform students by targeted advertising through their preferred media. Are students interested in online consultation sessions? Do they consider it more convenient? Are students getting the help they are seeking? These will be points of focus in the newly established online sessions.
To answer these questions we will perform a combined analysis of the minutes taken by tutors during the sessions along with the questionnaires students take before and after the sessions. We will use these resources to assess expectations students had before their session, whether or not they were satisfied with the outcome and why.
Establishing a Common Language: Using models of feedback and the writing process to optimize feedback activities in a writer development
Sarah Haas (Leuven, Belgium)
This presentation is intended for participants who have an interest in improving in-process (formative) feedback on academic writing, and in helping students take control of their own feedback needs.
If feedback is “what pushes the writer through the writing process on to the eventual end-product” (Keh, 1990), it is in everyone’s best interest that response to writing be of a high standard. Elbow and Belanoff (2003) assert that response to writing is most effective when a writer takes control of feedback—by articulating the kind of response s/he needs at any point in the writing process—and when the responder honours the writer’s wishes. In order for feedback needs to be effectively communicated, however, the writer and responder need to share a common language for talking about feedback (Murray, 2006).
This presentation will discuss how one mixed-gender, multi-cultural group of MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) writers used models of feedback and the writing process as starting points to develop their common “meta-language” (Aitchison, 2003) for talking about feedback in the writing process. Data were collected via audio recordings, members’ reflective journals, questionnaires and interviews. Results indicated that a heightened awareness of both the writing process and different feedback types enhanced members’ ability to ask for and give effective feedback.
Developing Post-graduate Research Writers: Writing Retreats and Writers ‘Groups for PhD students
Sarah Haas (Leuven, Belgium)
The number of PhD candidates is increasing in Europe, and along with it, the demand for better pedagogic practices for postgraduate education. One of the areas needing attention is writing instruction. Mullen (2001) discusses the problematic lack of writing skill development in postgraduate writers. An emerging body of research suggests that writing retreats and writers’ groups are effective ways to improve the writing, and the educational experience, of postgraduate students (Aitchison, 2009; Badley, 2008; Chihota, 2008; Murray, 2009). The intervention under discussion, a “Writer Development” course, combines supervisors’ seminars, writing retreats, and writers’ groups. After supervisors are briefed in a two-hour seminar, students are taken on an intensive three-day retreat. Self-directed writing time, modeled after Murray’s (2009) ‘structured retreat’, is alternated with group discussions and input sessions. The purpose of the retreat is to not only provide students with tools to help them develop themselves as writers, but also to provide time and space to establish their ‘community of practice,’ which is intended to continue after the retreats in the forms of writers’ groups. Groups are organised by students, and meet regularly between retreats. The second retreat, held two or three months after the initial one, reviews and builds on the information from the first retreat. As this is a work-in-progress, conclusions have not yet been drawn. However, Initial data is positive. Reactions such as “I got more done in an hour here than I got done all week in my office” and “It’s so nice to know that there are others in the same boat. I feel so much less alone now” are encouraging. Should this intervention prove to be as successful as hoped, it might be a framework that could be adopted by other institutions, or by writing centres, whose role in supporting writers is ever-expanding.
Preparing Students for Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Writing: A Case Study in Criminology
Jane Creaton (University of Portsmouth, UK)
One of the key tenets of writing centre pedagogy is that different academic disciplines develop genres, discourses and conventions which reflect different patterns of knowledge production and representation. Teaching students how to negotiate the range of disciplinary discourses that they might encounter is therefore a central challenge for writing centres. This challenge is, however, particularly acute in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary subject areas, which may still be in the process of developing a distinctive disciplinary voice. Students may experience a range of difficulties both in navigating the terrains of the different disciplinary discourses and confusion about the potentially different expectations from staff.
This paper focuses of the specific challenges involved in teaching academic writing to criminology students. The discipline of criminology represents a particularly rich environment for the study of academic writing practices, as it encompasses a range of disciplinary, theoretical and methodological perspectives and a diversity of professional contexts. Although it draws on a range of cognate disciplines such as sociology, social policy, politics, law and psychology, it has also developed distinctive theoretical and empirical traditions which have taken it beyond these established disciplines.
This paper explores how lecturers construct academic writing through their discursive interactions with students and how these discourses are shaped by the specific personal, disciplinary and institutional contexts of a criminology department in a UK university. It considers the implications for developing students' writing across the curriculum and the role that institutions can play in assisting students and staff to negotiate multiple disciplinary discourses. Although the research focuses on a specific disciplinary, institutional and cultural context, the paper should be of interest to all those working in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts.
Critical Race Theory: Delgado and Crenshaw in the American Writing Center
Lauren Kopec (St.John's University, NY, USA)
Critical Race Theory is an innovative form of legal scholarship that emerged in the 1970s as a result of the inability of civil rights litigation to produce meaningful racial reform. Cornel West describes this theory as one that “compels us to confront critically the most explosive issue in American civilization: the historical centrality and complicity of law in upholding white supremacy.” Recently CRT has been explored for its pedagogical implications. However, currently its presence in education is limited to calls for the authentic voices of people of color, and to asking researchers to critically examine the institutionalized racism that is embedded in the American educational system. Major components of the movement have not been fully tapped for their educational influence. For example, Richard Delgado and Kimberlé Crenshaw write about theories of “storytelling” and “intersectionality”. Delgado praises storytelling for its ability to help build consensus and create a shared, communal understanding. Crenshaw’s theory of “intersectionality” explores the various ways in which different aspects of identity (i.e. race and gender) intersect to form a particular type of lived experience. My inquiries carry these ideas into the academy, to the writing center; a place that Stephen North believes should be “[a center] of consciousness about writing on campuses, a kind of physical locus for the ideas and ideals [of writing].” Working with this image of the writing center as the home of incredibly rich, productive, and influential discussions of writing on campus, how can CRT components like “storytelling” and “intersectionality” impact the writing centers across the globe? How can a critical awareness of race, marginalization, and the silencing of the “other” impact conversations about tutoring? What are the implications of incorporating CRT into tutor training? In “Critical Race Theory: Delgado and Crenshaw in the American Writing Center” we will examine the answers to these questions, as well as discuss the implications for further research.
My presentation will consist of a PowerPoint and accompanying paper that explores Critical Race Theory as an innovative and revolutionary concept to explore with writing center tutors. I want to begin with a discussion on the contemporary notion of “color-blindness”, and the dangers of pretending that a black President means the end of institutionalized racism in America. Then, I will introduce Critical Race theory and its basic principles. This will be followed by an explanation of the separate components of “storytelling” and “intersectionality”. Then, I will elaborate on their connection to writing and the work that occurs in various writing centers. My presentation will end with an emphasis on tutor training, and some possible directions for further research.
The bulk of my research comes from my own experience as a graduate level female tutor, who has recently immersed herself in Critical Race Theory. Additional informal interviews were conducted with colleagues who are currently bringing this theory to their work in both writing centers and the writing classroom. I will make some suggestions for incorporating this type of conscientious dialogue into tutor training. I will provide a handout of a detailed Critical Race Theory bibliography for anyone seeking to further their knowledge in this area.
Writing in the Disciplines at Queen Mary – reflections on institutional culture and change
Alan Evison (Queen Mary, University of London, UK)
Over the past decade, increasing attention has been paid to student writing at Queen Mary, University of London. Starting as a fixed-term project and evolving into an established area of work, Thinking Writing (TW) has raised the profile of writing development within the university and has recently become influential in framing strategy for teaching and learning. TW’s evolution has been shaped by diverse influences: from US Writing in the Disciplines practices – in particular, the John S. Knight Institute’s WID programme at Cornell University – to British Academic Literacies theories. Addressing the question of whether the US model of WAC/WID can be exported to Europe, this paper reflects on TW’s journey and considers how and why it has evolved as it has: in an incremental and ‘grass-roots’ way, rather than top-down and programmatically; primarily faculty-oriented and only recently student-facing, too. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and what is TW’s current position? What new developments are envisaged and why? And what are the opportunities and challenges associated with these?
Flexible consistency: Ethical Issues in Writing Centers
Laura Citino Western Michigan University, USA)
Jason Elkins (Western Michigan University, USA)
Meghan Dykema (Western Michigan University, USA)
Patrick Love (Western Michigan University, USA)
Writing centers often position tutors, directors, and students in situations that require ethical considerations and responsibilities. Certainly, directors should ensure their centers are operated ethically, and tutors should ensure they are acting ethically during writing center sessions. However, appropriate ethical decision-making is based on choice, circumstance, and personal judgment. How realistic is it, then, to expect a writing center with numerous consultants serving a diverse student body to provide consistent ethical choices?
This workshop will help participants consider the many ethical choices tutors and directors face on a daily basis and will offer ways to appropriately and consistently view ethical decision-making.
After a brief introduction, we will begin our workshop by offering four of the most frequently raised ethical considerations that occur in writing centers, including some dilemmas that may seem cut-and-dry on the surface. Sample topics we may offer include:
Plagiarism—What are appropriate consultant/director responses when a student shares a paper that includes plagiarized passages?
Student Confidentiality—What are appropriate consultant/director roles in relation to clients’ personal lives?
Teacher/Consultant Disagreements—What actions may consultants/directors take when they disagree with professors’ assignments or written comments?
Student/Consultant Belief Conflicts—What actions may consultants take when they disagree with the content of a student paper or find the content disturbing?
Cultural Differences—How should writing centers handle clients’ cultural differences and beliefs?
After each scenario we will ask participants for their raw impressions, i.e., the sort of decision they would make given the amount of time and dynamic pace of a typical writing center session. Then we will examine aspects of each scenario in depth to note a) what generates ethical questions in the first place, b) what specific responsibilities belong to each party involved, and c) how ethical responses can be determined in a consistent manner across assignments, genres, situations, directors, tutors, and students.
Our workshop will focus on the consistency of ethical decision-making tempered by flexibility. A reactive teaching style is a tenant of the writing center ethos; thus, reacting to situations with countless mutable factors (beliefs and pre-engrained learning of clients and beliefs, teaching styles of professors, societal factors affecting rhetoric and writing instruction, the ever-changing educational world itself, etc.) is built into our methods. We contend that a balance needs to be struck when ethical questions arise in writing centers. Clients should be assured they will find consistent treatment of their issues. However, consultants and directors need both the freedom and the tools to make ethical decisions—sometimes on the spot—that include all factors so they can create the best, most thorough, and most appropriate answer/s.
Participants will leave the workshop with copies of our scenarios, multiple perspectives on and approaches for each scenario, a heightened awareness of ethical considerations and liabilities that can occur in writing centers, and a greater appreciation of consistent and appropriate ethical reactions in our work.
From teacher-centered instruction to student-focused coaching: a writing curriculum and writing center in Germany
Shawn Kemp (University of Tübingen, Germany)
Linda Carlson (University of Tübingen, Germany)
Katharina Wiedmann (University of Tübingen, Germany)
In this panel presentation, we will explore the situation of writing instruction at the English Department of the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and how we are developing a writing curriculum and writing center based on U.S. models but tailored for our German student population. We will explore our successes and failures at changing the writing culture in our department and what implications they hold for adapting the U.S. model to fit the needs of a European context.
At present, German students enter the University of Tuebingen’s English Department with little to no concept of the conventions of modern academic writing in German or in English and few skills for independent learning. Panelist one, Linda Carlson, a lecturer in the department, will present samples of students writing pre-intake and analyze the teaching of writing in school and the conventions students are taught to follow in school. In order to succeed at University level, students need to develop into independent thinkers and writers who can clearly and concisely express themselves, and we have developed a writing curriculum in the department that moves away from teacher-centered instruction and toward student-focused coaching in an effort to foster these independent learning skills.
This curriculum includes academic English courses which focus on writing, tutorials that reinforce the conventions of academic writing for content courses, and an American-style writing center staffed by advanced students in the department offering one-on-one tutoring sessions and writing workshops for all students. Linda Carlson will present the current configuration of the writing curriculum in the academic English courses, the tutorials, and the content courses. Linda Carlson will outline the curriculum we have created and will present samples of writing from students presently in the department who are judged successful writers.
Panelist two, Shawn Kemp, a lecturer in the department, will present an overview of the writing center as it was conceived and how it is presently configured. An overview of our latest action research into the workings of our writing center will be presented: a statistical analysis of students’ perceived needs in writing (as reported in the academic English courses, the tutorials for content courses, and the writing center appointments) as compared to their actual needs will be given. Shawn Kemp will suggest ideas for how to implement this information into the writing curriculum across the department.
Panelist three, Katharina Wiedmann, a tutor at the writing center, will present first-hand experience of working as a tutor in the writing center for over a year. Katharina Wiedmann will complete the German Lehramt degree (qualification to be a teacher at the German high school “Gymnasium”) in April 2010, and she will discuss the relevant practical experience gained from working as a tutor. Anecdotal evidence of the tutor-training process, the actual tutoring process (as a non-native speaker of English for other non-native speakers), and successes and failures of the logistics of the writing center (i.e. securing a room, setting up a system of scheduling appointments, relaying information to all working tutors) will also be given.
In the end, we would like to open a discussion exploring the idea of a European writing curriculum in English, the idea of a European Writing Center, and in what way elements of our solutions may be useful in adapting the U.S. model to fit the needs of a European context.
Bridging Cultural Gaps in Teaching AW to Future Diplomats
Olha Ivashchyshyn (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
Nataliya Kashchyshyn (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
Oleksandra Ostrovska (Ivan Franko National University, Ukraine)
In this paper we offer suggestions for effective ways of teaching AW to international master’s degree students majoring in the field of diplomacy.
AW program (AWP) developed for this purpose and based on EAP methodology (Hacker, 2000; Yahontova, 2003; Tarnopolsky, 2005) proved to be effective in teaching diplomacy students how to write persuasively, brought fruitful results to socio-cultural aspects of this process and encouraged interdisciplinary connections.
Having chosen an evaluation essay (EE) as one of the most efficient genres of writing for teaching diplomacy students and having selected persuasive diplomatic documents’ templates for the analysis, we designed strategies constituting the basis of AWP. In its turn, the AWP implementation gave fruitful results in developing students’ writing skills and encouraged the improvement of their diplomatic competence through intensive use of terminology and practice with numerous versions of diplomatic documents (DDs). Moreover, AWP realization in international classroom environment pointed to cultural peculiarities as the main factor influencing students’ writing style in the course of EE writing process.
The research was conducted in a multicultural environment where the factor of culture performs a two-fold role in bringing-up a competent diplomat: on the one hand, it is a powerful stimulus for acquiring knowledge of AW and on the other hand, it helps to cherish cultural traits of style. The task of the teacher is to skillfully create a cultural harmony and in this way bridge cultural gaps in English AW classes.
The presentation will discuss the main strategies of AWP for teaching international master’s degree students whose major is diplomacy, analyze cultural impact on writing EE based on the analysis of DDs, demonstrate methodology for facilitating intercultural communication and bridging cultural gaps in teaching AW to future diplomats.
Educating Undergraduate Tutors: Integrating Theory and Practice
Jasna Shannon (Coker College, USA)
Aspiring writing center tutors are often reluctant to delve into writing theory. If writing center tutors are the expert resource in the tutor/student relationship, they should be able to call on a richer understanding of scholarly writing practice that exceeds formulaic and memorized techniques common to non-theory based training.
My intention is to make a case for integrating theory into undergraduate writing tutor courses. The challenge remains how to approach undergraduates and introduce them to theory without dampening their enthusiasm to jump right in and start tutoring.
Indeed, tutors need to make sense of what a tutor is, and they need to invent and reinvent themselves, and theory can help them provide an enriching environment to do just that. The key is to help undergraduates see theory as a positive source of information that will help them engage in conversations about writing and learning, rather than to view theory as intimidating and daunting generalizations that, in their eyes, have little to do with practical applications in the day-to-day tutoring situations.
Writing in English as an International Language and the vexed issue of proofreading
Joan Turner (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)
Language centres and writing centres, whilst different in origin and orientation, have commonalities in the area of writing development. The assumptions are broadly that students learning to develop their academic writing skills are also improving their ability to learn in and engage with their respective disciplines. In other words, a ‘facilitating learning’ approach is common to both EAP and writing centre practitioners. However, with increasing numbers of international students at UK universities, along with other European universities where the requirement is to write in English, offers of and demand for ‘proofreading’ proliferate. While most writing practitioners distance themselves from this practice, the issue is nonetheless one for us to consider. This paper will present the findings from a study on different perspectives of proofreading, conducted through focus groups with students, semi-structured interviews and mailbase postings by EAP practitioners, and semi- structured interviews with 10 faculty members in the humanities and social sciences.
The Copy Paste Reflex: Re-thinking plagiarism
Hulya Gorur-Atabas (Sabanci University, Turkey)
Writing is a skill that is usually met with discomfort and uncertainty. Thus it should not be surprising if learners resort to take various “shortcuts”, like adopting other writer’s ideas/works, and thus commit plagiarism.
But how can we assist our learners in gaining a sound understanding of what it means to plagiarize? Are codes of conduct, and various inexplicable rules and punishments, the only way to prevent plagiarism? Can we as educators do anything that has a more long-term effect and benefit on the learner? Do we need to go into combat with plagiarism detection programs (e.g. Turn-It-In) or is there a more peaceful way of solving this issue in the educational arena?
"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn," said Alvin Toffler. With this in mind, this presentation aims at sharing an alternative approach to dealing with “plagiarism” by looking at processes, materials, some research data, and insights gained from the process that Freshman students enrolled in the first year English and Composition course at a private English medium university went through.
A series of materials and activities, both for use in class and for independent study purposes, were devised and coupled with both instructor and student moderated workshops over the course of a semester. The collaborative learning and teaching experience that learners and instructors underwent, was coupled with aspects of blended learning and coaching our learners.
How do we generate ideas?
Mike Gould (Michael Gould Associates, Netherlands)
An important question in all disciplines is how can we generate and then select ideas worth pursuing. After presenting a method based on work by the mathematician Henri Poincaré (1914) and others, I would like to discuss participants’ own experience in this area. There appear to be five main steps:
1. Gather raw material, using an online research tool such as Notefish (http://www.notefish.com/index.php), in two categories:
a. Specific (related to the topic you wish to explore)
b. General (issues related to life and events that may reveal broader aspects of the topic)
At this stage you combine specific knowledge with general knowledge in a relatively unstructured way (kaleidoscopically), perhaps linking old elements in new ways.
2. You now enter the mental-digestive phase, which could involve mind mapping and putting tentative ideas on paper.
3. Then drop the problem and do something completely different (listen to/play music/go to a film/read/sleep on it). The conscious work is more productive if it is interrupted; the period of rest restores power and freshness to the mind.
4. The Eureka moment. Often after days of effort which may have seemed totally fruitless, the idea appears seemingly out of nowhere – from the subconscious. While valuable ideas usually emerge after a long period of unconscious work, the unconscious mind never supplies ready-made results. It offers a point of departure for further work, which involves rigorous scrutiny.
5. Subject the idea to criticism and test it against the real world. Elaborate the results of the inspiration, work out its immediate consequences, verify its validity, and plan demonstrations of its validity.
Investigating the Development of the Student as Scholar: A Writing Center/ Writing Program Research Collaboration
Kirsten F. Benson (The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
The extent to which first-year students are able to inhabit a “researcher” stance continues to be a matter of some debate in composition studies. Can students acquire and demonstrate strong competencies in conducting research that will be applicable to their assignments in later courses across the disciplines?
This presentation will report on a 2-year study conducted by the writing center and the writing program at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, which recently revised its second-semester first-year composition course to introduce students to a broader range of research methods they could make use of in later writing situations in disciplines across the curriculum.
The paper will discuss the part of the study that documents the ways in which first-year students learn and use qualitative methods, which are among the least familiar to them. The study investigates the extent to which student work demonstrates such key features of social science writing as identifying a research question about how people think and/or act, offering evidence-based answers to a research question, and referring to data as evidence to support the findings.
The discussion will focus on the ways in which first-year students acquire novice-level competence in research skills that could transfer across the disciplines and will suggest ways in which writing centers and writing programs can design supports that may lead to the better development of the student as scholar.
Positionality and the 21st Century Writing Center: Interdisciplinary, Transdisciplinary, and Cultural Border Crossing
Kathleen Shine Cain (Merrimack College, USA)
Heidi Wroblicky (Merrimack College, USA)
In interdisciplinary writing centers, peer tutors who work as generalists with students from across the disciplines may also serve as writing fellows for courses within their disciplines. In crossing disciplinary borders, these tutors contribute substantially to examinations of the influence of disciplinary practices on tutoring strategy and style. Perhaps more importantly, discussions of disciplinarity have inevitably led to discussions of broader issues involving crossing cultural borders. These discussions are especially pertinent to a director and a peer tutor, both Americans whose experience working and studying in Europe has led us to articulate a foundational question for all writing center workers: “How does who you are and what you know shape the way you view others, their writing, and the world?” This type of critical reflection is central to our presentation, the objectives of which include questioning varying assumptions and values inherent to border crossing in order foster a clearer understanding of how border-crossing experiences can help to transform the culture of writing centers and academic institutions. The session will be divided into two parts: 1) presentations on the concept of positionality, the distinctions between generalist tutoring and writing fellow work, and the impact of these dual roles on our assumptions and values, and 2) discussion among participants of problematizing questions regarding positionality and writing center work, with specific attention to evaluating the relevance to writing center work of disciplinarity, race/gender/class, and the influence of national culture on academic culture. By facilitating a deeper understanding of the significance of crossing racial, ethnic, linguistic, and other cultural borders, we hope to underscore the critical importance of international dialogue among writing centers as national and cultural borders become blurred through technology and globalization.
A Study of L2 Error Patterns of Faculty/Staff at Poznan University of Technology in Poland
Lilianna Aniola-Jedrzejek (Poznan University of Technology, Poland)
Diane Boehm (Saginaw Valley State University, USA)
The role of Writing Centers in helping second language writers correct their errors is often controversial, but for faculty and staff who wish to have their professional work published in English, errors are a serious concern. Our objective is to add perspective to this question of error correction through a presentation that discusses the results of a study conducted with 20 faculty and professional staff at Poznan University of Technology, Poland, all of whom use English for professional purposes. In our study, we developed a template for self-analysis of common errors in English that occur with speakers of Polish. The study, conducted via an anonymous survey, is based on common error categories identified by scholars such as Dana Ferris and others. The categories included both rhetorical and language issues. Based on our research, we believe a template such as this can be an invaluable tool for self-analysis; it could also readily be adapted for speakers of other languages who wish to develop greater proficiency in their written English. Thus the template could serve as a model for other Writing Centers in their work with faculty and staff.
Does the task matter in the process?
Lukasz Salski (University of Lodz, Poland)
It is clear that texts written in a foreign differ from those written in L1. Contrastive Rhetoric seeks explanation of this phenomenon in transfer of culture-specific text features, but research data show that other factors may come into play. The very fact that EFL students write in a foreign language must influence not only their texts but also writing processes.
This paper reports on a study in which think-aloud protocols were used to establish students' awareness and interpretation of a typical exam task. Drawing on previous studies (Skibniewski 1986, Skibniewski and Skibniewska 1988) the protocol analysis concentrates on typical elements of the writing process (e.g. generating ideas, planning, rewriting) as well as formal elements of task, such as word count or genre.
It is hoped that the findings of the study shed light on the peculiarities of foreign language writing and help principles for developing inspiring and involving tasks for foreign language writing practice and testing.
From Tutoring to Teaching and Back Again
Chloe de la Reyes (California State University San Bernadino, USA)
Gina Hanson (California State University San Bernadino, USA)
Deanna Hernandez (California State University San Bernadino, USA)
Erika Macias (California State University San Bernadino, USA)
One particularly interesting lens on writing center pedagogy can come from viewing its intersections with classroom pedagogy, a perspective that this session will offer. Four graduate students who occupy the simultaneous roles of writing tutor and classroom instructor, consider questions such as these: In what ways does writing center pedagogy inform classroom pedagogy? And, in what ways does classroom pedagogy influence tutoring strategies?
In this session, four graduate students who occupy these simultaneous roles will consider the ways in which their tutoring and their teaching inform each other, they will show how occupying these dual roles: (1) illuminates the ways different theoretical underpinnings influence their decision-making both within writing center sessions and in developing their classroom curricula; (2) informs their approaches to student texts in either space; and (3) complicates their various identities, primarily with regard to varying positions of authority.
We recognize that the model of graduate students occupying roles of both peer tutor and writing instructor may be a predominantly an American one; however, we believe that the perspectives that these peer tutor/writing instructor/graduate students offer may resonate with and be useful to conference attendees who occupy many of the differently configured positions represented at EWCA.
Beyond the Paper Review: Exploring the Possibilities of Media-Rich Feedback in an Online Writing Center
Diane Martinez (Kaplan University, USA)
Kara Vandam (Kaplan University, USA)
Susan Carlson (Kaplan University, USA)
The Kaplan University Writing Center (KUWC) strives to provide quality paper review feedback, allowing students to learn through their own writing experiences in a supportive online environment. Inspired by accessible technology and research into the effectiveness of audiovisual feedback, the KUWC is currently piloting a media-rich asynchronous feedback program which has encouraged a significant shift in student response and tutor approaches to feedback. The study found that providing media-rich feedback (audio, video, and written) fosters positive tutoring practices such as emphasizing global writing issues, projecting an encouraging tone, and engaging students in a writing dialogue. Data from this pilot shows that students are recognizing more holistic approaches to revision from their media-rich feedback experiences, moving the focus of students and tutors from the writing product to the writing process.